Memories of San Blas
Working a bit on the interior of our boat at the moment, I regret I didn't purchase more of these brilliant colorful slightly psychedelic artworks, hand sewn by the Kuna Indian ladies. I know I can get them in any tourist shop in Panama City but I'd rather support the designers right where they're made. Maybe we should make another trip to the beautiful San Blas sometime soon, it's anyway just a day of sailing away.
One day in one of the pristine anchorages over there, these guys rowed out to us to ask if we were going to Porvenir (the capital island), five miles away, any time soon. We were, as a matter of fact, going later that day, and these gentlemen asked if they could hitch a ride. Claro que si, we're leaving at two, where shall we pick you up with our dinghy? No no, the man said, we're bringing our canoe!
At two o' clock they returned and we tied their canoe to the stern of our boat. We realized pretty quickly it was easier to have one of the men staying in the canoe to steer it in right course to avoid a capsize.
The Kuna indians we met on our two weeks in the islands were all very kind, polite and friendly. As they try to keep their gorgeous natural islands calm and as simple as they've been for thousands of years, it is a bit of a shame the amount of charter boats packed with hundreds and hundreds of (often drunk) people that bring noise and litter with them. But on the other hand, the (good) yacht tourism gives the kunas an opportunity to make money from their molas, lobster and fishing. It is a tricky balancing act.
Later on, we became friends with the sergeant coast guard of the San Blas archipelago who told us that in a manner of maintaining a healthy environment for both nature and locals alike, they're trying to limit the number of yacht/charter visitors by raising custom and immigration fees, particularly so for backpacker boats.
It was refreshing to hear, not only from our friend Atentio, but from many other kunas we had the pleasure to speak to as well - that they do not care too much for neither the money potential visitors could bring in, nor for a modern progress in their society - but all they really want is to live in peace and harmony.
Who can blame them, with all this surreal natural beauty surrounding them.