Panama – San Blas – in Paradise with some Ups and Downs

Sun set in Chichime
Sun set in Chichime
sun sets are often coulorful...
sun sets are often coulorful…
...and there are enough clouds around to make them look interesting
…and there are enough clouds around to make them look interesting
enjoying the morning in Chichime, Reto takes pictures while I am running
enjoying the morning in Chichime, Reto takes pictures while I am running

Well, the original plan was to get to know the “other San Blas”, where less tourists and a lot more traditional villages can be found, further to the east as we have bee so far. And normally in December the dry season also should start.

But what is normal, so we understand that also in December daily rainfalls and every two days a thunderstorm can be quite normal. We improve our techniques in collecting the free water coming from the sky and and the same time learn what is important to protect a boat when getting hit by a lightening strike. A very interesting topic, but of course we have to improvise a bit in order to improve without having a hardware store at hand…

and continously everything is getting full with mold, especially the leather but also everything else..
and continously everything is getting full with mold, especially the leather but also everything else..

Unfortunately also the mold is not getting any less, every other day I discover another corner or items that need to be cleaned, not even once through, I can start again from the beginning… Best would be to really get rid of everything!

You want any lobster or crab? sometimes the local fisher men come and sell their catch of the day
You want any lobster or crab? sometimes the local fisher men come and sell their catch of the day
and on to the next boat...
and on to the next boat…
this ones Reto caught himself by throwing a line, interesting his straw baite
this ones Reto caught himself by throwing a line, interesting his straw baite

Also for two weekends in consequence I miss the vegetable men and so the vegetables slowly get rationed until even Reto asks “what ? I should not have eaten that salad all at once? then you should bring only half of it to the table…”. Even though usually he states that running out of vegetables is a pure women problem ;-): Men could live on chips and other not so healthy stuff just as well…

But in the end I am happy that he really likes the raw vegetable salads, since also the cooking gas reserve is coming to an end…
Luckily we have a hand table charcoal grill, so quite some self caught or freshly bought fish lands on our grill.

Borja and Peter with a large Barrakuda
Borja and Peter with a large Barrakuda
a little later prepared for the grill
a little later prepared for the grill
waiting for the fish underneath the palm trees ;-)
waiting for the fish underneath the palm trees 😉
surrounded by an nice setting...
surrounded by an nice setting…
then the fish is ready, hmm how delicious!!!
then the fish is ready, hmm how delicious!!!

Of course the highlight is when our Brazilian friends Peter and Borja catch a nice barracuda and short time after Peter prepares it on the charcoal grill underneath the coconut palms. With great company one of the best fish we ever tasted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a family from the neighbor island come to sell molas, the mother Eneida with daughters Eneira, Fabiana, Eleini, the name of the son I forgot
a family from the neighbor island come to sell molas, the mother Eneida with daughters Eneira, Fabiana, Eleini, the name of the son I forgot
the molas are real pieces of art, here a nice one of our favorites from Venancio
the molas are real pieces of art, here a nice one of our favorites from Venancio

Then the Guna family comes up to our boat and mother Eneida wants to sell us some Molas. Seeing her with her 4 children in the boat of course I cannot say “no” and have to buy one from her. As she asks me for some rice, of course I have to give her also. In return I ask for a picture, but easily recognized, most Gunas do not like cameras and prefer to look the other way.

 

 

 

in the western Cayos Holandeses we are all by ourselfes
in the western Cayos Holandeses we are all by ourselfes
the  sand islet is great for swimming and snorkeling
the sand islet is great for swimming and snorkeling
another beautiful seastar
another beautiful seastar
many beautiful and divers corals
many beautiful and divers corals
a calamar, funny animals, they seem to swim backwards and always look at you ...
a calamar, funny animals, they seem to swim backwards and always look at you …

We continue to explore the Holandes Islands and visit two ( at leat still at this time of the year) little visited anchorages where we finally enjoy the snorkeling from the boat and also with the dinghy. When it doesn´t rain we snorkel up to two times one or two hours a day, great!

Reto's first self caught Lion fish
Reto’s first self caught Lion fish
good concentration is necessary when taking the spines away
good concentration is necessary when taking the spines away
the lion fish number 2 and 3, the 2nd being by far the largest so far
the lion fish number 2 and 3, the 2nd being by far the largest so far
just enough for two persons
just enough for two persons
the sun set being watched from the hammock ;-)
the sun set being watched from the hammock 😉
our regular navionics charts don´t help anything here, in blue the real track, in red what we went in lrelation to the map
our regular navionics charts don´t help anything here, in blue the real track, in red what we went in lrelation to the map
ulu with sail
ulu with sail
Reto relaxing in the Dinghy...
Reto relaxing in the Dinghy…
...while I do many turns aroung the island
…while I do many turns aroung the island
some burn their garbage even with glas and metal...
some burn their garbage even with glas and metal…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Reto catches his first Lion fish and learns to put into practice of how to handle and clean them. As a resumee I would say “don’t touch as long as he still has spines on him…”

We love the place but the sandflies make us crazy so after 3 itching nights we have to move on.

Next destination is Green Island, we anchor and do an extensive snorkel around the anchorage for one hour just to get to know (it is not especially pretty right there). Coming out of the water Reto takes a look at our communication and immediately reads a mail from a Canadian couple we know from Bonaire “ we don´t want to scare you, but few days ago there was a 2 meter croc next to our boat in that anchorage”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without any discussion we decide to go on the Coco Bandeiros the next day.  We already know the way in, that makes it easier ;-)…

There we spend some beautiful days exploring the islands on land and in the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, also that beauty brings some ups and downs.

On every most little island there is plastic garbage coming from the sea, we assume it comes as far as from Europe, Africa, the other Caribbean islands and of course also Panama itself.
On Guariadup we collect the garbage of the island within half an hour and make a pile of it so it shouldn´t fly away. Since we already have 4 weeks of plastic garbage on board we cannot take it on board as well. We see the rests of others burning garbage and wonder how they also try to burn glass and metal, which for sure would be better off in the deep sea instead of on a beach.

Since we also have seen the garbage disposal in Nargana which is in the mangroves on the other side of the town, we know that the problem is big in Guna Yala.

sad to watch the continous erosion...
sad to watch the continous erosion…
and many palm afterwards fall over into the water
and many palm afterwards fall over into the water
or are cut down
or are cut down
I am happy - the vegetable man comes by finally
I am happy – the vegetable man comes by finally
here the buy for USD 25.-
here the buy for USD 25.-

It is almost full moon, the tide is high and we literally see the sea taking away the sand under the palm trees. Like this one after the other palm tree looses its ground and falls over into the sea, the islands becoming smaller and smaller.. It is just a question of time. Who wants to read more, here a link a Panamanian sent to us:
www.bbc.com/travel/story/20161213-the-350-islands-set-to-disappear

We are happy to still be able to enjoy the islands. With the first constant north easterly wind we move back to Banedup in the East Lemmon Cays in order to pick up my little sister Flavia two days later.

Also here a lot more Gunas come by to sell something and we are happy to meet Geraldo again who gives us the possibility to stock up with vitamins again.

Just after his visit I come back into the kitchen and see that Reto has completely emptied one cupboard while he was looking for the egg trays. “What happened here” I ask – “Well, there were some cockroaches fleeing from the plastic egg trays…” These must have been infected with the last eggs and now we have some small guests in our boat.

We clean all the critical places, spray Bop and put some boric acid and hope to keep them under control…
Then we also get ready our guest cabin and look forward to my little sister – Juhui!

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