January 2015

Tuesday 13th

Santa Marta, Colombia

We have been in Santa Marta for almost two moths now and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Colombia has been a revelation, the people are friendly and welcoming and the women are probably the most beautiful in the world (Sheryl agrees!).  Two months is too long in a marina but unfortunately there isn’t a viable alternative here.

Tomorrow we are leaving for Panama and the San Blas Islands, reportedly a cruisers paradise.

There was, of course, a leaving party…

Left to right the skippers of EMMA LOUISE, CAPISCE, NELLY ROSE, MEZZALUNA and LUCKY SEVEN

And their mates!

Saturday 31st

San Blas Islands, Panama

The passage from Santa Marta took a little over 48 hours and apart from a rough stretch during the first morning was very pleasant and straight forward.

The San Blas Islands, together with a sizeable chunk of the adjacent mainland at the east end of Panama, are an autonomous region run by the indigenous Kuna people.  Their country is known as Kuna Yala and has, of course, its own traditions and language.  Spanish is their second language which makes it easy to talk to them, assuming you know some Spanish!  My Spanish is now good enough to hold a reasonable conversation with someone who is also not a native speaker.

The islands are about as “away from it all” as it is still possible to get in our ever more crowded and connected world.  Electricity, where it exists, comes from solar panels and is typically only used for lights and TV, no refrigeration for these people!  There are no ATMs so you need to arrive with as much cash as you think you’ll need for your visit. Panama uses the US dollar and small denomination bills are essential, the Kuna never have any change.

In some of the anchorages the local community levy a fee and come round to collect it…

In addition to simply charging, modest, anchor fees the Kuna make money by selling you things.  There are floating shops and fresh fruit and veg, eggs, wine and beer are usually available.  If they haven’t got it they’ll try and get it for you from the mainland.  They also sell handcrafts, molas being their most famous work…

This guy, Vanancio, is a self-styled “master mola maker”.  I think that actually he has lots of women sub-contracted to make them.  He seemed to have more for sale than one person could possibly make.  They are exquisite examples of needlework with many layers of cloth being cut and sewn together.  Dozens of hours go into even the most simple piece.  If you want more examples of the patterns made simply do a Google image search for “mola”.

For a slideshow of the San Blas look at February 2015.