Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sailing San Blas

I departed on a 6 day journey to Panama via the San Blas islands, an idyllic archipelago off the Panamanian coast. I booked the trip aboard the Corto, a 43 foot sail boat made in Canada and sailed by a French Captain, Michel. Michel has sailed this trip 12 times and has 7 years of experience as a Captain. There would be 8 other passengers aboard the boat.  The other passengers were 3 Irish (Paul, Kate, Noelle), 3 English (Katie, Sophie, Tor), 1 Swiss (Michael), and 1 Uruguayan (Pupi).  Everyone got along really well throughout the entire trip.

The first day and a half was spent sailing. Everyone got sea sick to varying degrees, the easiest solution was lying down and staring into the sky. While sailing Michel dropped a lure into the water and went trolling. He landed a Bonito and a Spanish Mackerel.

Fresh caught Bonito Carpacchio

After sailing for 36 straight hours from Cartagena we reached Coco Bandera, a grouping of reef protected islands to set anchor and spend a day. At Coco Bandera you could kayak to a tiny deserted island with two palm trees, or swim to a group of four slightly larger islands.

Bonfire on the beach

The Kuna sold us 5 huge spider crabs for 20usd plus two old beers.

The next day we moved to another set of island and had our second encounter with the Kuna, whom are the native inhabitants to the region and still live autonomously although still being in Panama. The Kuna survive off of coconut farming, tourism, and handicrafts. The iconic palms trees which cover the San Blas were originally planted by Kuna.
Kuna women selling Molas

We also got to snorkel at a man made reef made from an old shipwreck.

On our third and final day in San Blas we got stamped into Panama at what must be the most relaxed and beautiful border post in the world. Then we went to enjoy one final afternoon lounging in perfect turquoise blue water.

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