San Blas Islands – Panama

Monday 14th January 2013


There are said to be 365 islands and islets in this archipelago off the north coast of Panama. Most are merely sandbars and deserted but about 50 are home to the Kuna Indian people.

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They arrived here in the 19th century after being driven here from the mainland and have fiercely defended their autonomy, language and traditions ever since.

It is a matriarchal society and women run the ruling council (Vance says…Just like home then). After marriage a man moves into his wife’s household and girl babies are welcomed with more enthusiasm than boy babies. The women wear elaborate traditional dress – mola blouses, skirts made of colourful fabrics, jewelled combs and brightly coloured beaded anklets.

We arrived at the San Blas Islands at 8am this morning and although the tender service started at 8:30am we decided to have a lazy breakfast at The Colonnade and let the others go ashore before us.

At about 10am we took the next tender ashore and landed on these unique islands.

We had already been told that if we wished to take photos of The Kuna people we would have to pay $1 per photo. It was strange to wander the narrow village pathways to be met by these young children whose only English was ‘photo…$1…’

By now the temperature was in the mid nineties and the humidity was extreme.

After about an hour on the islands we returned via the tender to our home away from home and showered, jumped into the pool and dried off ready for our 12 noon beer followed by a long lunch on The Colonnade.

Tonight we dined again on The Colonnade the theme being Japanese. Unable to decide which appetiser to choose the waiter suggested both so we had Sushi of seared hamachi, tuna and salmon with wasabi and soy sauce and also lobster tempura. Both were fabulous. We followed with a main course of teppanyaki style beef tenderloin with fried rice and sautéed vegetables – needless to say neither of us could finish our main course.

Sarah and Paul joined us for a drink before we went to see the ventriloquist Brad Cummings. We thought it was going to be rubbish but he was hugely funny and had the whole audience in stitches.

By 11pm we were shattered so it was time for bed…again…zzzz

Techie bits: On the 14th of January at 7:30am we were:
9° north and 078° west
Travelling on a compass course : 190°
Speed = 5.5 knots
Wind speed = 3 knots from north west
Air temperature = 26°c (79°f)
Total nautical miles sailed = 2008
Depth = 28 metres
Humidity 68%
Sunrise = 6:36am  Sunset = 6:14pm