Posted by: vlbyers | February 25, 2013

Reminiscing

We are back to Rocinante after spending a day in Panama city with our friends and a day shopping and provisioning. The boat is fine and we are getting into some of our projects however we would rather be doing midnight swims and noodle parties with our family and friends.
Thanks for sharing such a special time with us.
Vicki and Larry

Posted by: vlbyers | February 23, 2013

Sharing Paradise

Daphne, Me and Larry on 'one palm'

Daphne, Me and Larry on ‘one palm’


There are times in your life when things just work out the way they are supposed to, well usually they do but sometimes they are just magical.
Having our granddaughter and our friends aboard in the San Blas was one of these magical moments. Once we learned when Marykay and her husband Scott and daughter Caryn were coming to visit I realized that Daphne would have her mid winter break the same time and could not think of a better place to have her experience than the San Blas islands. Like I said it all just worked out, her mother, my daughter agreed to the plan, I was able to get the same flight that our friends had made and the opportunity for our friends to bring her with them was just the universe making room for our plans.
Larry met them all at the Cruiser Casa in Panama City after their arrival. Once they made the trek in the 4 wheel drive out to Carti and the Panga ride to the boat I greeted them at our boat with more excitement than I recall having in a very long time. This would be an opportunity for us to share one of the more special areas that we have cruised.
Arrival in Carti, Panga in background

Arrival in Carti, Panga in background


As per usual for this time of the year there was a nice breeze blowing through the anchorage, I was on deck as the panga arrived after making lunch for everyone who I expected to be hungry. Our granddaughter Daphne was as excited as I was when they arrived, I knew this when she said ‘Nice hair Grandma’.
'Great hair Grandma'

‘Great hair Grandma’


Marykay, Scott and their daughter Caryn were amazed that the day arriving to Rocinante had arrived and there were many squeals of delight as we unloaded their luggage and our provisions from the panga to our boat.
After filling up on some tasty morsels and stowing their gear we donned swimming attire and snorkel gear and proceeded to snorkel to Banedup, one of the islands near our anchorage. Doing a little miscalculation we ended up snorkeling over some VERY shallow spots but ended up on the beach at Banedup and showed everyone the island.
Sand Spit, San Blas

Sand Spit, San Blas


On our way back from the island we went to Kokomo and asked Becky and Denny over for happy hour. It’s always fun with Kokomo but our guests were tired and so after our appetizers and visit we had dinner and retired early.
Oh, and the Lobster appetizers

Oh, and the Lobster appetizers


We stayed in the E lemons on Sunday, traditionally there is a pot luck at the larger anchorage just East of us and there are 20-30 boats anchored at this time. We chose to have a potluck on Yansalerdup with just a few of the other boats anchored near us, it was a bit more intimate and not so overwhelming for our friends. The Kuna family on the island had caught a small Lemon shark and called us over to see it. Not knowing my sharks well I commented that it was a baby nurse shark, the Kuna elder man, the only person who spoke Spanish, said that it was a Lemon shark. In my best spanish I explained that I liked nurse sharks because Marykay and I are nurses.
Later that evening the whole Kuna family came back to where we were gathered to talk with Marykay and I. He showed us his 9 month old grandson who had sores/bites all over his body. We questioned as to what it could possibly be, could not come up with a solution at the moment but promised that we would come back the next day to help. After returning to the boat the discussion continued and I even spent many hours that night thinking about what we could do that would at the very least ‘do no harm’
The next morning over our coffee Marykay and I discussed our thoughts. The only thing we came up with was that it was Chicken pox, admittedly one of the worst cases either of us has seen. We came up with bathing 3 times a day with baking soda and oatmeal, which I had blended to a flour consistency. Applying a tea tree oil infused oil on the skin, as tea tree oil is reputed to be beneficial to every skin problem. The grandfather understood all the instructions and we were happy to have been of some assistance.
We pulled the anchor up to motor to dog island to snorkel the wreak which lies off the beach. There is a very small anchorage only suitable in calm conditions and only for a few hours. We finally maneuvered the boat to pretty good holding and were off to enjoy the beauty that this reef had to offer. Larry stayed behind to make water, this is very labor intensive so I am thankful that he is willing to do this for us.
The girls found the jewelry and molas for sale first and when we couldn’t find them in the water we looked toward the island and saw Scott holding all the snorkeling gear under a palm tree and the girls ogling over the handmade items. Of course Daphne and I joined them, I found a bracelet, Daphne found several. We hauled our treasures back to the boat, stopping once more over the wreak, getting pictures of Daphne finding her own.
Looking at Lisa's molas

Looking at Lisa’s molas


After lunch we headed over to Salurdup, it was Monday and we planned to have Lisa take us up the Sidra river for the tour on Tuesday. The winds were up a bit to about 21 knots, the seas had been stirred up as well so we had a wild ride as Scott helmed Rocinante across the channel, Caryn was at her favorite spot on the bow and as it got rougher she decided to make her way to the cockpit just as a big wave came over the bow to soak her.
Scott at the helm

Scott at the helm

Thankfully we were not the only ones laughing as she got to the cockpit with a big smile on her face. After sailing several hours, our snorkeling in the morning, and anchoring we were content to swim around the boat a bit, take the dinghy to the island of Salurdup for a little exploration and hang on the boat for a wild game of Uno. Daphne was the victor for the evening and we were in bed again before 10 pm, resting for another adventure.
Tuesday we went to the river, Lisa came to get us right from the boat and we made the slow trip to the river.
we

‘Red Flower’ lipstick
we is beautiful

Our hike to the top only took about an hour so we were a bit sweaty and couldn’t wait to take the plunge into the cool, fresh water. Some of us bravely jumped from the 10 foot rock into the pool, and some were a bit more chicken and jumped from a rock quite a bit lower, hey we all got into the water to cool off and that’s what counts. Lunch was satisfactory and filled our stomachs, enjoyed the rest sunning on the rocks and then began the return trip which takes us through the river, another high jump which we ALL jumped from, a slide or 2, continued trekking through the jungle past several Kuna gravesites and back to the panga where the adventure of the day began. This day was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we were ready to relax on the boat.
Daphne trekking rio Sidra

Daphne trekking rio Sidra


Our first thought when we were planning the time was that we would sail to another anchorage called Gunboat island, it is only a 5 mile or so sail but we knew that changing anchorage would take at least 3 hours and the anchorage was reported to be a bit rolly so we decided to stay where we were to explore the area. Waking up at about the time to listen to the ‘net’ which comes on at 0830 every morning on the SSB, leisurely enjoying our coffee and breakfast and chatting about our experiences from the day before we prepared to go on our outing. We piled our gear into the dinghy and I took everyone to see what reefs we could find. Our first stop was disappointing as we only found one coral head so we jumped back in the dinghy and headed a bit further. Between two of the islands I could easily see the breaking waves of the reefs that extended off each island, I found a sandy spot to drop the dinghy anchor and we jumped in. First look told us we had found a special place. Snorkeling right next to the breaking waves was a bit surgy but once we were out a bit from the sand the visibility was wonderful. Before we got caught on the outside of the second set of breaking waves I suggested we return to the dinghy and explore 3 palm island.
3 palm island is a bit of a takeoff from 1 palm island, which there are several of these so named islands scattered around the San Blas. We anchored the dinghy off of the island a bit and snorkeled the reef all the way to the island. The girls found many treasures on the island to show us, pictures to remind us what a treasures we have found and explored together were taken and we headed back to the boat.
Surprised that we had been gone 2½ hours we showered thanks to Larry filling our solar showers and had a late lunch. We knew that a rematch at UNO would be in order that evening and the Ausenhus’s were hot to take the crown from Daphne. I knew that there was one experience they could not leave the islands without and that was the famous ‘noodle happy hour’. Having enjoyed a mojito with our fresh mint the night before I set out to make enough for the younger women to have their version and share in the festivities.
Once the mojitos were made everyone got their ‘noodle’, which are the Styrofoam straw-like water toys and I gave an example of how you get into the water with your noodle and drink in the glass to enjoy our ‘noodle hour’ floating in the cool Caribbean sea. Marykay said she is going to tell her mom that this is the way she wants to have pupu hour from now on. We laughed about when we come back to Seattle they will have us over for ‘pupus’ and have noodles on the couch or in the bathtub and we will remember their time with us.
Marykay at the helm

Marykay at the helm


The next day was Thursday, we headed back to our original anchorage at Salurdup, the wind was 12-15 knots, main and jib were set by Larry and Scott and Mary Kay was at the helm for the great sail. The girls were a bit nauseus but they quickly recovered once we were out of the channel. Safely anchored we got a visit from our Kuna family, the grandfather happily reported that the baby was much better and thanked us for our ‘medicine’. The girls contributed to the islands economy by purchasing some of their beaded bracelets and we waved goodbye as they paddled away in their ulu.
Road from Carti

Road from Carti

Enjoying Ceviche

Enjoying Ceviche


Marykay, Caryn and Scott in Panama

Marykay, Caryn and Scott in Panama


Soooo good when it's hot

Soooo good when it’s hot


Shopping

Shopping


Caryn at Casco Viejo

Caryn at Casco Viejo


Friday morning came early as we had to take the return trip to Panama City for their flight on Saturday. The panga came as expected, we piled in, they said their goodbyes to Rocinante and we arrived at the Cruiser Casa before noon. This day was spent exploring some of the sites of Panama City, the canal and Miraflores locks, the fishermans wharf, and Casco Viejo. We ended the day enjoying dinner and a traditional dance demonstration at a nearby restaurant. It has been such a wonderful adventure.
Thanks to Marykay, Scott and Caryn for visiting us, allowing us to share this magical place called San Blas with them, thanks for the unforgettable memories and laughter they have shared with us, we will relive this time over and over. But most of all thanks to them for allowing our granddaughter Daphne to have an adventure of a lifetime. For this we are eternally grateful.

Posted by: Lare | February 23, 2013

Larry’s Album Now Available

Well, it’s taken a while but now my album is available at CDBaby.com and iTunes. Here’s a link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/larrybyers . Just copy and paste it into your browser or go to either site and search for my name. Thank you to everyone for your patience and support.

 

This is an island in San Blas, Panama.

This is an island in San Blas, Panama.

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.

Posted by: vlbyers | January 26, 2013

San Blas take 1

A beautiful San Blas island

A beautiful San Blas island


Upon awaking and seeing the beautiful blue skys, calm water, and hardly any other living souls around I knew it would be a great day.
There is so much to write about, I don’t know where to begin. We are in the San Blas Islands, east of Panama, north of Columbia, World. It is beautiful here, much different than what you see on the charts. On the charts there are lots of colors which look like land but which are really under the water, close enough to hurt the bottom of your boat, but not easily seen as you are sailing along. So coming into this watery area of beauty can be daunting, we had our waypoints and made it in just fine, greeted by our friends on Kokomo.
Careful lookout for reefs is necessary

Careful lookout for reefs is necessary


The water inside the reef is calm, there is some little wave action enough to keep the boat moving a bit but no rolling. The first night Kokomo made dinner for us, we had been traveling the last 2 days and were tired, they knew that, after our wonderful dinner I said it was time to go, thinking it must be after 10 and when we got back to the boat it wasn’t yet 8pm. I forced myself to stay up till 9 just cause.
The next day it was a little cloudy, we did some projects on the boat in the morning and did a little snorkeling in the afternoon at the wreck. Even with the low cloud cover the boat wreak at the bottom is covered with colors that are just unbelievable, it looks like a fabulous artist conjured up all the textures and colors and dropped them there.
Mangrove islands

Mangrove islands


Our trip after snorkeling was to Banedup, where we met the ‘owner’ of the island, there is a ‘bar’ and some little ‘hotels’ there, see pics. This little island is the cutest thing, do not imagine a big 2 or 3 star hotel, noooo, there is an outhouse though, the bar plays music from 6-9pm and he said all the people come and dance and drink and have a great time, and they make fresh bread sticks there. We also were able to make arrangements for me to get to Panama City next week here. In all of San Blas this is the only ‘happening’ place, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
One of the one palm islands

One of the one palm islands

Today we awoke to bright sunlight and blue skys. An early morning snorkel was in order so off we went with Kokomo to a great reef (there are so many). Becky took some pics with her underwater camera(I need one of those), and then we went to another island to look at some molas. Becky bought one for her aunt, I looked at all the wares the lady had for sale, her baby of 8 months, and after talking and laughing in our Spanish, promised to buy some when I figured out what I was going to need for my quilt.
Lisa greeted us as we returned to the boat, Lisa is actually a man dressed and looking like a woman who makes molas too, she says she is the master mola maker. I let her know that I didn’t need any today but that I would buy some when I returned from the states. She said the others from the other islands will try to sell me some molas but tell them that I am waiting for Lisa. I said OK.
Surrounded by reef

Surrounded by reef

Well it is quite magical here, I have been getting up and doing yoga every day, then doing some projects on Rocinante and then getting some flute playing in before our swim or snorkel. I think tomorrow I will swim to the 2 rocks that are close to our stern, not in harms way of course, and then to the shallow spot where there are lots of sand dollars. Which is covered by about 3-4 feet of water. It is so surreal to look out on to the Caribbean sea, nothing between us and the sea, and be in such protected waters, amazing. The project I worked on today was to re-seal my dive mask, I also found one of the skirts that goes around the back of the cockpit, to give a little privacy, and put that on. While I was doing that I met Chester. Chester and I are now good friends, you can’t have too many friends. Chester is 4 legged, has a cute grey tail and the tinest little padded feet you could imagine. Chester is a Gecko. I told Larry, ‘did you see the little lizzard’? His answer was guarded, ‘yes I saw him in the head but I didn’t see any harm in him, I wonder if it is the same one?’ I asked him if the one he saw was named Chester? Well he didn’t know of course, we laughed. We have a gecko on Rocinante and I couldn’t be happier. Geckos eat cockroaches and although Chester has a way to go to take care of some of the roaches I have seen lately, I am more than happy to find out the proper care and feeding of a gecko.
San Blas
Vicki

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