September 18, 2006

San Blas Islands 3

The San Blas continued to get better and better for us, as we learned to understand and appreciate the Kunas more. The scenery remained amazing--like living in a calendar.

Leslie wanted to see some dancing so we went to a Chicha festival on Nalunega. This is where everyone gets smashed on the local brew--Chicha-- to celebrate the arrival at womanhood for one of the family. The earlier parts of the festival were off limits in a giant thatched hut, but we could pretty much tell what was happening by the way people staggered out of the hut.

The dancing came later, after dark, and was accompanied by chanting, clapping, and flute music that sounded very much like American Indian routines. There was a brief scary moment when Heather disappeared, just at dusk and in a village with no lights, but she was just running around with some other Kuna children. Heather was a big hit in the village as she was recognized by some of the Kuna children from an earlier visit. Heather gave one of the kids a stuffed animal, which was a much appreciated gift. When the father learned of this he had us all visit his house, meet his wife and extended family, and partake of fresh drinking coconuts. We reciprocated by taking and printing up a photo of the family (bring a small printer with you), which I was able to deliver later that day.

Another highlight of our San Blas visit was the time we spent in the Holandes Cays near the Swimming Pool anchorage--a spot popular with American cruisers. The Swimming Pool has some of the clearest water in the San Blas, tons of snorkeling opportunities, good fishing, and a sheltered anchorage. Though, again, we rode out several strong chocosanas, but with no trouble. Just be prepared for 40 or 50 knots from the southeast, and you're all set for a "choco."

Heather and Ian had fun with two girls on the catamaran Chewbacca. We all enjoyed Monday night potluck BBQs on aptly named BBQ Island. Surprisingly we rarely anchored with more than six or seven other boats around, and usually less. It was the rainy season, with lots of lightning and storms, but most of the time the weather is great. This has to be one of the best cruising areas in the Caribbean and almost nobody is here!