February 2009

 Amaya, Adam & LindsayWe hear the roar of airplane engines and John jumps into the dinghy and races across the harbor to the small airport.   Ann watches the plane land and passengers unload through the binoculars.   About 20 minutes later, John arrives back at the boat alone.  “It was the wrong airplane for Lindsay, Adam, and Amaya.  The next one is due any minute.”  With that said, we hear the roar of engines again and John races off again to the small airport.  Lindsay jokes that the small hut they fly over is the airport as the plane lines up for landing.  She is shocked after landing to find out that her joke was the truth.  The highlight of our time in the San Blas was the visit from our daughter Lindsay, her son Adam (10), and daughter Amaya (8).  We had a wonderful time sharing the cruising life with them in the beautiful San Blas Islands of Panama .  We appreciate all the effort they made for their short visit.

Amaya, Adam & Lindsay

Nargana village

After traveling for almost 20 hours through four different airports, they arrived at their hotel in Panama City at midnight.  They awoke at 4:00 am the following morning to catch a 7:00 am flight to the San Blas Islands.  After a hot breakfast and a change of clothes, we went into the Kuna village of Yandup.  This village is more progressive than traditional Kuna villages with electricity and television, but it gave our visitors some idea of how different the Kuna lifestyle is from their own in the United States.

Walking in Nargana (one of the more progressive Kuna villages)

Adam snorkeling



Lindsay, Adam or Amaya had never been snorkeling.   We made a short trip to Green island and the kids immediately hit the beautiful, clear blue water.  Everyone had a quick snorkeling lesson and soon we were all swimming over the nearest coral reef and looking at tropical fish. The kids brought their own underwater camera and enjoyed taking underwater pictures.  After each snorkel, we looked at the fish identification book to identify all the creatures that we saw underwater.  At the end of the trip they made a list of all the different fish they saw during their visit.



Ann & Adam snorkeling

Amaya & Adam with starfish


During their short visit, we would usually snorkel in the morning; go to a beach and hang out for a while; eat some lunch; play cards in the cockpit, read our books, or play video games; snorkel again in the afternoon; go back to the beach for a late afternoon look at the sunset; and head back to the boat for dinner.  After dinner, we would go out on deck to look at the stars.  The kids were amazed at the beauty of the islands, since each new anchorage looked like a postcard.




Holding a starfish


The afternoon after the kids returned home, we were anchored at the island where they first went snorkeling.  We were sitting in the cockpit and looked out to see an 8 foot long crocodile swimming among all the boats at anchor.  We had never seen a crocodile in person and they certainly look a lot meaner than alligators.  We were both happy that we didn’t see any crocodiles while the kids were visiting.  I’m not sure that any of us would have gotten in the water!


The ugly crocodile!

We continued to enjoy the simple life of the San Blas Islands in February.  Our days were spent snorkeling, spear fishing, reading, buying fish and lobster from Kuna fisherman, and waiting for the arrival of the veggie boat for fresh fruits and vegetables. There are few opportunities to spend money in the San Blas and we spent less money in February than any single cruising month since we started cruising.  Perhaps that is a reason that many people stay in the San Blas islands for 5 – 12 years.

 Also during February, John became the proud owner of a used kite and kite board that he purchased from another cruiser.  One day conditions were perfect for riding and after not riding for almost a year, he was able to get up and ride for a greater distance than he had ever been before.  He is still a long way from becoming expert, however.

Portobello fort


As February ended, it was time for us to leave the San Blas Islands and head to mainland Panama.  After two months in the San Blas we stepped on the mainland of Panama for the first time in Portobello.  Portobello was founded by the Spanish in 1597 and served as the major Spanish port in Central America to ship out the gold and riches of South America.  The port was under constant attack by pirates and the British Navy.  Most of the city was destroyed in the mid-1700’s by the British.  Today the town is small and sleepy, but friendly.  Visitors can view ruins of the old fortifications, the customs house, and the cathedral which is home of the life-sized statute of the Black Christ.

Portobello fortification ruins

On March first, we left the peaceful harbor of Portobello and headed for the busy port of Colon, the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.