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March 26, 2013


It has been about 2 weeks since my last log went out.  We sent one just before my niece and her husband Jon joined us here in the San Blas.  We have been busy having fun ever since so I didn’t have much time for this log or even answering e-mails.

I have gone through the picture files and it looks like I have way too many to share to do it all in one log so you will get some pretty close together so I can catch up.

To get ready for Terri and Jon to arrive, we went closer to the arrival docks in the place we picked up Peg and Vic.  It is a quiet secluded anchorage for the night.  Finally, much later than we had anticipated, Terri and Jon arrive by launcha.


It is a short boat ride from the docks.  I had sent a pretty good shopping list ahead of them so they had a lot to unload but not quite as much as Peg and Vic did.


We got it stowed away and then set sail back to Gerti, the island that we have adopted.   We wanted Terri and Jon to experience some Kuna culture and thought that while it was overcast and windy was a good time as we hoped there would be good weather for snorkeling later.   As it turned out, that was a good call!

Jon and Terri have been on board with us several times over the years and being boaters themselves, they get right to work.  Jon removed the jib sail and got it ready to go.


Terri is supervising!  Note the Christmas lights still up in the back.


They have their own solar panel so take nothing from the boat batteries.  They look cheery from the back and it defines our boat at night so we have left them up.

We took Terri and Jon in to the village and we met some of the other boaters that were there in the anchorage.  There were a lot at that time and many were having work done on their boats by the two local guys who do this work there.  It was a good week for them.

One of the things Justino (one of the guys who works on boats) does is to give tours.  The boaters decided to take one that went to a Kuna inland village.  Terri, Jon and I went.  Rob had a tender knee and didn’t want to stress it so stayed on the boat.  I certainly got exhausted on the hike.  It was about a 30 minute boat ride to the river and then a short ride up the river to where we began hiking.  Most of the ground was flat until you got to the village.  It was about a 1 hour and 45 minute walk each way.  Not that long but the pace was consistent.  We had about 12 of us with Justino and 2 other guys who drove the two boats.

After falling off a short bridge over a ditch last year and breaking my arm, I was not too happy that there were three bridges to cross.  Each was different.  One was a wide sturdy long flat plank and I did fine with that one.  The next was strange.  It was two narrow pieces of flexible metal and you had to walk with one foot on each piece to cross.  One gave more than the other.  Luckily, there was a place to cross walking in the shallow creek to one side of the bridge which was what I did.  Terri and Jon crossed on the bridge.


The next bridge was three long logs next to each other.


We all went this way as there was no real other option.

The only real challenge was to get to the village which was on the top of a steep hill.  Luckily, the path had steps carved in to the hillside which helped.  We got the the village which was like what the island ones look like except that there is more space between the houses.


You can see the houses are built about the same and you have many solar panels but what was different here was the playground equipment.  We don’t know who provided that.  It obviously had been there awhile as some of the things were in disrepair.  It was located in about the middle of the village and near the school


From this part of the village, you could see another part of the village across the river and on another hill.  In this picture you see a splash of yellow.  Note the tree with yellow flowers.  The hill is covered with fallen blooms which make up the splash of yellow.


They had a tienda where we could get snacks and cold soft drinks.


This is the only shopping place for a long distance.  It must have been work to carry supplies like cases of soft drink or beer to the top of the hill!

One of the things this village had was lots of pretty plants.  You can see the row of hibiscus along these houses.


While things are not “landscaped” as we think of it, they did use plants for beauty.  Of course this is in the jungle and things are pretty lush with growth.  One of the plants of interest is called a lipstick plant.


We have seen it before on our travels throughout the Caribbean and it is used as a color source.  The Kuna use it to make the red paste that they put on their faces.  If you remember the picture from the Chiacha ceremony, they had put some on my cheeks and nose.

One of the things we bought was fresh baked Kuna bread.


Here is some ready to go in to the oven.  It is small, and sold for about 10 cents each.  It is best fresh.  They used to bake this in a barrel cut open on both sides with a suspended rack and a fire at one end.  Some places still use that but more and more we are seeing butane ovens in the villages and even on some of the outer islands with only one family living there.

We went across a shallow river to the village where the yellow tree blooms were on the ground.  There was not much there although they had cleared a place to relocate some of the other villagers who wanted to be closer to the river for the water and not on the top of the hill.  We found a place to rest and eat our packed lunch.  It is a church but we didn’t find out how often they have services or what kind of services it is.


If you read the bible you will see that the verse that goes something like, COME TO ME  HEAVILY BURDENED AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST, really had meaning for us that day.  The Kuna have little in the way of furniture.  They have stumps and a few plastic chairs for sitting but otherwise use a hammock for everything else.  Few tables are available and there is not much for outside public use.  There was no place to sit in the village and we were all a little foot weary from the trip.

We did get to “cool” our tired feet when we waded across the river again.


You can see the first village from the water.


It was another steep climb back up and then down on the other side to the path leading back to the boat.

It usually seems shorter to return when you have in mind the route already but I don’t think it seemed that way this time.  I had blisters and put socks on with my crocks and it was such a blessing to be back at the boat.  I was in the slower group and the faster ones had their rest waiting for us.  Since Rob was not with me, I was carrying the back pack all the way and I am not used to that!  It was a wet ride home going against the wind and waves but it was good to shower and relax.  I managed to stay on my feet long enough to make dinner.  I really enjoy cooking most of the time but there have been a few days I miss being able to order out!!!!

This is only the first two days of Terri and Jon’s visit but I will stop here and give you a rest too.  Expect some logs coming in pretty quick order for awhile.

Hope your are planning a blessed Easter.  That is a big holiday here, even for non Christians.  I expect that the beaches will be full of campers and swimmers.  Not sure if the boaters will have anything yet.  I may see about putting something together.

May the blessings of the Resurrection fill you with renewed energy to face this glorious life in the most full way possible.

Fair Winds,
Sue and Rob
Aboard Catalyst
San Blas Islands, Panama

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