More Paradise (San Blas Islands, Panama)

“There’s a dolphin!”

Sure enough, a pod of dolphins frolicked around the boat as we ate breakfast.

We slept beautifully on deck being rocked gently as the boat swayed in the gentle waves. A steady breeze kept us cool.

Even so, I’m glad it’s not me who’s living on a boat. I can’t wait to get back on my bike…

We motored 2.5 hours to another spot in paradise – and have been anchored all day in a small alcove surrounded by three tropical islands. Shortly after dropping anchor, we swam to one of the islands and met a group of friendly Kuna Indians. Wow!

The San Blas Islands are home to the Kuna tribe, and we’ve been seeing the brightly dressed women selling molas for a few days now. But always, when we try to talk with them, they shun us. They are perfectly willing to take our money, but have no desire whatsoever to talk.

So today, when we arrived at the small island, I expected more of the same – but these ladies were completely different. Their smiles were plentiful and genuine, and they were genuinely interested in telling me about their lives and culture.

I spent 3 or 4 hours hanging around their camp – they are here for three days to collect coconuts to take back to their village and sell. It was fascinating watching them break open coconuts, grate the meat, and extract the milk for use for cooking rice. And all the while, they told me stories about their lives.

The family makes their livelihood by collecting and selling coconuts, harvesting lobster & squid on the coral reef to sell to exporters in Panama City, and selling molas to tourists. Most of their children have opted to live in Colon rather than the islands.

Today is our last day in the San Blas Islands – tomorrow morning we take off for 30 hours straight through to Cartagena. I hope I survive…

PS: I posted more info and pics of this day here and here.

I slept on deck to avoid seasickness

Local fisherman kept us supplied with lobster from the coral reef

We covered the bikes well and lashed them to the deck of the boat.

San Blas Islands

A group of Kuna arrive at the island


Ramon and Florinda

Florinda ties a traditional bracelet on my arm.

The Metacomet


Demelia  - you can see the camp behind her

I like my new bracelet!Demelia



Daryl in the San Blas

Daryl swims back to the boat


Showing off her homemade coffee ladle

Peeling a coconut with an overgrown pliers


The fishermen return

Smoking fish

Thr coconut shell fuel puts out a lot of smoke

Ship wreck - run aground on the coral reef

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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2 Responses to More Paradise (San Blas Islands, Panama)

  1. Paul August 2, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Plenty of more paradise to come yet, I guess.
    Looking forward to passing through myself in 2011. Will follow your blog with interest, might pick up some tips.

  2. Elias Perez October 17, 2009 at 5:00 am #

    Hotel corbiski ubicate in kuna yala have 6 private room is ideal for relaxing and contact kuna cultures .
    Discovery and enjoy paradise islands kuna yala.
    Elias Perez

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