We arrived in San Blas last Saturday after a four-day crossing from Aruba. In the first 24 hours we clocked 220 miles (partly because of very favourable current). The last three days went a bit slower and we were glad to see land after having to stand off on the fourth night. The reefs around San Blas are notorious and last year alone 14 yachts ended up as shipwrecks. On top of that, the charts are not accurate and therefore landfall can only be made when the light is good. We safely made our approach in the morning and anchored next to Taff Tumas who had made it in just before sunset the day before (lucky people!).
San Blas is exactly what one imagines paradise to be like. Little islands dotted all over the place with palm trees, white sandy beaches and turquoise water. The San Blas islands are home to the indigenous Kuna Indians, who have best preserved their culture and traditions out of all the tribes in the Americas. The Kunas are physically small people (rivaled in tribal shortness only by the pygmies!) and they don’t like to get their picture taken, as they believe it takes a bit of their spirit away. Kuna Yala (which means “San Blas” in Kuna) is a matrilineal society. The women control the money and the husbands move into the women’s family compound. The Kunas are friendly people. There are no pushy vendors like in the Caribbean and it feels much safer (and everything is a lot cheaper!). There are no other tourists here apart from other cruisers and some of them have been here for years. So how are we going to manage leaving here in a week or so? We want to get to Panama and keep making our way into the Pacific but on the other hand we could easily spend a few months exploring these beautiful islands. Our days fly past with schoolwork every morning, swimming and activities in the afternoon, fires on the beach in the evenings and even a camping trip for the dads and the kids one night (they built a hut out of palm tree leaves and sticks and slept in it one night).
Yesterday we sailed over to the nearest town (Nargana). People still live in huts here too but there is a hospital, a bank, some shops, a library, a school and a power plant (basically a very large generator that brings electricity to the entire village). The locals were very friendly and showed us where we could buy fruit, veg, bread and beer. We also managed to buy a SIM card for which we had to go to someone’s house. Wifi or internet cafes don’t exist here yet and life is still very simple. Today we went up the river Diablo with a Kuna guide to explore the jungle! We didn’t see any crocodiles (apparently they only appear at dusk) but it was stunning with plentiful wildlife and lush vegetation. We might have to do another trip at dusk to see those crocs!