September 18, 2006

San Blas Islands 2

Leslie has quite a collection of molas, from various islands, and of various qualities. Some mola sellers are pushy and some are friendly. They all drive hard bargains. Going prices seem to range from $5 to about $20, with the highest quality ones going for $40 to $80, though we never bought any of those. The things to look for are fine stitching, intricate patterns, and lots of detail. The better molas are on bright high quality cloth, while sometimes old molas that are faded can be bought at a discount. Sometimes you have to wash them to remove the strong smoke smell (the Kunas use fires for cooking and light).

I'm not a mola expert, but I enjoy looking at the interesting designs that represent various aspects of Kuna life. After you've seen the peaceful Kuna Yala, with tall, swaying palm trees, sweeping sandy beaches, and protective coral reefs, you can better appreciate the stories and images within the molas.

A typical day in Kuna Yala begins with us waking around sunrise. After breakfast, Ian and Heather break out the books from the Calvert system. Hopefully, school is done around lunchtime, or a bit later some days. Then it's off in kayaks or dinghies to the reef for some snorkeling, or to Starfish Island for a game of tag on the beach. In the Coco Bandero Cays we were anchored so close to shore that we frequently just swam in.

When we had a 56-knot chocosana (wind from the mountains), that closeness was rather scary. Boats dragged all around us, and we were 50 feet from a reef, but our Bulwagga anchor held, backed up with a Fortress anchor that I dropped in the middle of the night as the lightning approached. Minke was one of two (out of eight) boats that didn't drag anchor that night.

Out here we're on our own when something like that happens: no Coast Guard and no Sea Tow. Insurance wouldn't do you much good either--there's nobody to spend the insurance money with. You'd better spend the money on heavy anchors, chain, and rope.