|Kuna Indian women coming to sell their molas|
We crossed the finish line outside of the San Blas Islands at 0718 on January 18th. Unfortunately for us, our chart plotter was not showing the details of the area. Initially I thought I had failed to purchase the correct chip. I recalled looking at the coverage area on the South America and Brazil chart chip and seeing the Panama Canal. When it did not show details, I concluded that I should have purchased the Central America chip.
As a result, we used the iPad Navionics app and old fashion paper charts to guide us through the islands to an anchorage. At times it was tense as we were not sure where we were going and what obstacles were in our way. We desperately wanted to avoid Sail Rock which has taken out many a sail boat!
|And beads. At least they don't haggle with you!|
Without the detailed Navionics electronic charts (which Noonsite claims are inaccurate by 100-200 yards – a big issue!), we actually anchored a long way from the island we were trying to reach. We needed to check in at Porvenier but discovered later that we were anchored in front of Palm Island (actually there are many islands there named Palm!).
Before we were even anchored, the Kuna Indian ladies arrived in their dugout canoes filled with handmade items for sale. They were selling lovely molas and strings of beads that they wrap around their arms and legs like bracelets. Their native dress was very colorful and accessorized with beading. One of them wanted to board the boat, but Vicky and I decided we might have trouble getting her to leave so we declined her offer to bring the goods on board!
Then the young men come by selling fish and lobsters. These two only had two lobsters so we bought them for a grand total of $10 USD. I sauteed them and managed to feed five people!
The dugouts were most interesting. First they were very large and looked to be extremely heavy. They are truly dug out trees and the sides are several inches thick. Everyone seems to have a canoe of some type. Even young boys will paddle up in a smaller one.
As for the ladies, one woman paddles in the front and one at the back, usually with a small child in the middle with the wares. I think the child’s presence is two-fold: 1) you can’t leave her home alone and 2) sailors have a hard time resisting the cute shy smiles of the little ones. After our purchases, we gave them some Jolly Rancher candies. The little girl did not waste any time trying it.