Posted by: vlbyers | February 9, 2013

Beat of a different drum

Caribbean sea with reef in distance

Caribbean sea with reef in distance


The past 6 weeks have been full of adventure, sunshine, warm water, snorkeling and celebrating Christmas and New Years with friends. There is an obvious lack of world connection in this part of the world known as the San Blas islands in the country of Panama. Oh internet and cell coverage can be found but at times the effort needed to obtain connection is just not worth the slow and intermittent signal that is often achieved. Letting go has been difficult but with the letting go comes a different type of peace, a calm. Hence no update for the blog in a while.
The experiences that we have had have been something that most people will never have. At this time this is not a well known vacation destination, which may be changing. True you are able to book a trip to this part of the world, we have met many people who have stayed on some of the islands for several days, their accommodations huts, bringing only a backpack and enjoying the beauty of the islands and the underwater world as well as the people and the culture of the Kuna Indians. We have seen that food is prepared for them, they are taken on snorkeling adventures or to a Kuna village to experience the culture. At the end of their stay there are hugs and goodbys and the panga comes at its appointed time to take them back to the city.
Beautiful beach in San Blas

Beautiful beach in San Blas


Our experience has been of a much different caliber than the typical tourist. Why do I say this? Is this ‘better’, maybe not but it is different. We have been able to move from island to island wherever and whenever we chose, found snorkeling that only the indigenous people have access to, met and enjoyed meals and conversation with the families who inhabit the islands, enjoyed river tours and hikes in the jungle, shopped in the very small towns where you can really find only the basics, and sometimes not even the basics. Expectations of mine have been adjusted daily depending on nature and not based on what my wants or desires are. I have had the experience myself of not having instant access to full service shopping, wifi was not at my fingertips 24/7, the ‘veggie’ boat sometimes did not have many ‘veggies’ when it arrived at it’s sporadic times. If we were able to pick up a few necessary items at a small store on one island it had to be hand carried to our dinghy and then transferred to the boat. It has taken me several weeks to let go of the expectations that modern world bestows on us and to know, instinctively, that we will be taken care of, that even when we run out of fruit something will turn up. That when you feel like eating an apple the veggie boat may only have oranges.
Filling water jugs from fresh river

Filling water jugs from fresh river


There are unexpected surprises too, like 2 pears instead of one, even if one has a small childs bite out of it, he said ‘my son took a bite’ I said ‘that’s OK I’ll take it’. Like lettuce, tiny wilted heads of lettuce, that were transformed into a crunchy tasty salad to go with the lobster we bought from a fisherman that morning. Like the breeze that fills our sails as we move from anchorage to anchorage and that fills our tiny living space with fresh cool air as we sleep. Like a young Kuna boy shyly taking a maraca and keeping beat while we play and sing our rock and roll on one of the islands. Like a young Kuna mother of 2 as she makes a beaded anklet just the way I want it. Like the sight of the locals as they paddle their dugout canoes or ‘ulus’ or as they raise the sails making their way silently across the water, freeboard only inches from the sea, regularly bailing the water which leaks in. If they come close to our boat we wave and smile, I’m sure they wonder about us as we do them.
Sailing ulu

Sailing ulu


The tourist experience seems to be more like ordering appetizers at the local pub, ours has been the chef taking charge, planning our 8 course meal, trustingly tasted, languishly savored, some tastes unknown to us, some instantly enjoyed, at the end fully satisfied and happy for the experience.
So it goes, the rhythm of life of a life I have never known, one that I think I start to hear the beat of.


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