Feb 17, 2013

Atlanta 25*......... San Blas 91*


On days like this when the sun is shinning and the air outside is sharp and extra crisp and cold, cold, I think back on days like Sunday January 20th, when I was in San Blas, an archipelago of 300+ islands on the Atlantic side of Panama.  

The post I wrote the following day, Monday January 21st, which I could not upload due to the WIFI challenges, that follows below.  

San Blas Excursion - Republic of Panama

The San Blas Island Archipelago has hundreds of islands, some very large, some the size of a football field, some smaller. On Sunday we visited two, 
Isla Perro and Isla Joshua and we also swam in the middle of the ocean 
at a place called La Piscina or the pool.  

JoAnn, my niece took all the photos, I will post some later this week or make a video when I get home; the excursion was fantastic.  All the elements that make a great day "great" were present and accounted for, thank you God ! ! 

Family: Roger, Mari, Juan Carlos, Roger IV, Jaime, Cindy and JoAnn. Friends: Gabi, Fernando and their family. Food: Mari and Gabi packed coolers with all the beverages and snacks you can imagine and for lunch we had fresh corvina, coconut rice and fresh pineapple. 

And then there is San Blas, a gift from God, nature at is best, nestled in the Mar Caribe or the Atlantic side of Panama. We left Panama City which is on the Pacific Ocean side around 6am, drove "across the country" in about two hours to the Atlantic side to a very tiny port called "Carti".  You enter through a preserve called Nusagandi which is part of the Kuna region, Kuna Yala.  

You leave the city tall with skyscrapers, drive towards the Atlantic side of Panama through an area that is tropical, tall grasses, trees, ferns, green, green everywhere..... and you end up at a very simple port with two long cement piers where the "John" boats are waiting for you. The boats are fiberglass, with 5 rows that seat 4 adults and the front has a big area for coolers, etc. 
They have canvas tops, you area always in the shade.  The Kuna driving the boat is managing a huge outboard motor in the back. 

You pack your family and coolers in the boat and away you go.  We were in the water for about 30 to 45 minutes, we passed several of the small islands inhabited by the Kuna Indians.  Finally we reached our destination Isla Perro. It is maybe one football field in size,  you can walk around the entire island in less than 10 minutes and there you are in the middle of the sea under copious palms trees having a wonderful time.  

I sat next to Little  Roger on the way to the island,  the ride there was nicknamed the "Butt Smasher",   the boat was going super fast and in the 10 or 15 minutes we were in open ocean, it was like a ride at a theme park, without the cushions or the harness, etc.  Yes we did have life jackets for sure.  You had to be there, it was so rough for a bit we all just started laughing and got very silly. On the way out to Isla Perro we passed on of those beautiful WIND STAR tall sailing ships, it was anchored in the middle of some of the islands and their guests were going to one of the smaller islands via tenders to enjoy the day. 

On Isla Perro, we swam, walked around the island, lounged underneath an almost canopy of palm trees. It was wonderful.  The water clear as a swimming pool and warm.  And the taste of salt delicious  ............. I was in heaven. 

My favorite part of the day, well there was two, the firs one:  For lunch we went to a tiny tiny island, for sure smaller than a football field and the people that live on that island make lunch for visitor groups like ours.  We arrived on the island, the John boat pulls up on the sand, and you hop out.  We had a table under a canopy under lots of palm trees and the family is preparing the coconut rice and fresh caught corvina.  There are 3 grass types huts on the island, an elder couple, 3 or 4 children, 3 dogs and us.  It was amazing.  Paradise does not get any better.  After the wonderful lunch we had time to relax and hang out and I found several hammocks on the back side of one of the huts and for about 15 or 20 minutes I was in a place I will never forget.  

In a hammock, under several palm trees and the ocean, the breeze, the salt, the crystal clear blue water, the fresh air, it was all there - for those moments I was in the frame of a picture perfect post card inhaling everything I could: I was listening intently to an orchestra of  the most amazing wind and wave concerto.  The views, my eyes stretching to see more, every detail, every frame of the small waves caressing the tiny shore. I turned on the extra super duper recorder in my head, I will remember those minutes for the rest of my life.  And yes in this picture perfect moment I  saw a dog in the corner of my eye, he or she was looking at me with a dog kind of look that said... "Lady I know you are enjoying your time in that red hammock, so I am going to leave you alone."  I wish I had a telephoto lens, the dog, I swear was part CORGI.  It was a small dog, Maddie and Morgan would have been in heaven.  All I remember is the tail wagging.  The dog was one of three that belonged to an elder couple that lives on the island.  Some of the Kunas don't want to interact with visitors and groups like ours, 
we respected their wishes.   

My 2nd moment which lasted about 20 or 25 minutes was the swim amongst the star fish at an area in the middle of three islands, out in the open, called La Piscina.  We were in an area about 200 yards by 200 yards 4 to 5 feet deep in the middle of the ocean. The closest islands probably 300 to 400 yards away or more.  The water was clear like a pool, the temperature warm and there was a gentle current, one you noticed but were not concerned about.  I swam as much as I could under water holding my breath, my eyes wide open underneath the googles.  I swam to the edge of the shallow water, were the deep ocean was a swim stroke or two away.  The water got very dark, much cooler and the depth was hundreds of feet in instant. It was amazing. I ventured into the deep area knowing that with 2 or 3 strokes I could stand up again in waist deep waters.  It was incredible.  

I hope to come back to Panama soon and venture to San Blas again.  You can actually spend the night on Isla Perro, you have to bring a tent and all your provisions.  Or you can go to places like Yandup Lodge.
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