Friday, August 30, 2013

Scenes of San Blas

After obtaining our clearance papers to leave the San Blas Islands as we prepare for the transit of the Panama Canal, we realized we had checked in almost exactly three months before.

Mainland Panama
Besides standing out as one the places we've stayed the longest, Kuna Yala (the indian name for this beautiful place) will remain special for us for several reasons.  

While here, we found a new slow pace where the days were filled with, well, sometimes nothing.  Other times we read, napped, snorkeled, swam, explored, chilled out, and just took in the beauty everywhere about us.  We found a state of existence that is so far from tired and exhausted, we just don't know what to call it.

A short description of this place would mention hundreds of islands a short sail apart, like scattered jewels on a turquoise sea with stretches of white sand beach and unbelievable coral reefs teeming with thriving colonies of vivid healthy coral and spectacular sea life; populated by the Kuna Indians who are proud and polite, kind, and industrious as well strong stewards of their heritage, traditions and culture.  

But really, the pictures say it better:
(click photos to enlarge)

Typical Kuna home with the car parked out front

The Kuna Ulu is a canoe dug out of a solid tree, usually mahogany, which, to us at least, represents the Kuna Indian's stubborn retention of their culture and traditions.  Sure fiberglass pangas and outboard motors exist here and are used daily for transport of people and supplies between the mainland and the offshore islands. But these modern powered boats are more like the public transportation system here.  Individual families all have an ulu, many passed down from previous generations, and use if for every part of their life from getting between islands, to fishing, to selling items to cruisers.  But often at the end of the day, you'll see Kunas out for a sail in their ulu just for fun.  

can you see the stingray?

A Green Flash...

...and a Green Splash!

We often know when the time has come to leave a place, usually with eagerness to learn about the destinations ahead.  But we leave Kuna Yala with a melancholy feeling that comes from the realization that we'll probably never be here again.  True, we may never return to most of the places we've been on this adventure, but as we put Kuna Yala in our wake, we realize how glad we are to have come this way and it's a little hard to say goodbye...

A Conch Shell Salute to the setting sun
...but don't shed any tears for us.  We've still got the whole world in front of us with many sunsets yet to enjoy!

Good bye Caribbean... Hello Pacific!