Loc: Channel island
Dist: 37,6 km
Start: 6:50 End: 16:45
Last night, I saw the local guys gathering in the distance and discussing me, as I heard a few words concerning my trip. But they all stayed at a reasonable distance for me to keep my privacy, just glancing over all the time. The *big* guy of the village, owning maybe the one and only motor cycle (I was guessing wrong – they still have road access here), drove over to my tent with howling motor, stopping just in front of my kayak and tent (glad his breaks worked…), and honked noisily.He surely wanted to show the rest of the guys how to approach and impress a woman! 🙂
Fortunately I already had pulled up my inner tent fly to be invisible, with just a tiny gap to peek out, and I didn’t give any reaction, pretending to sleep. He honked again, still no reaction from me…fortunately he gave up then and drove away. Unlike those two persistent guys in front of my tent in Punta Galera…
The local kids also were sneaking around my tent for a while, even peeking through my small window, but I could make them also understand I was very “cansado”. In fact, lying in your own sweat is not really refreshing.
The night was bright due to the street lantern (glad I had my sleeping mask), and the noise of the drums of some music lasted until midnight or even longer. And then, at 4.30 am!!! they turned on again full works of loud music! Can’t believe it! It was not as if the whole village got up and started to work, not at all! Well, lifestyles are different, and I was just a guest…
But when I was packing they watched all friendly, and one guy even called me by my name when I asked to top up my fresh water. Surely I was NOT planning to stay in a hotel in El Porvenir, and wanted to be full with water resources before heading out into the islands.
I passed a lovely holiday resort with six huts built on stilts out in the water for maximum coolness and no bugs, I assume, and it had a nice reef upfront with a buoy, where I hooked my boat for breakfast not to be drifting back. But no sign of any guests anywhere…
I soon reached the reefs of the headland, and decided to paddle inside where the water was dead calm, but occasionally very shallow. I found my way, and was feeling now happy to be in the Caribbean! Such beautiful reefs and beaches, even the mangrove channel I paddled along was lovely. Still the constant headwind was blowing…
The first local Kuna boat came, but not paddling, they had already a tiny engine on the traditional wooden boat – lazy bones!
Another one had a sail, but was not really making headway behind me going against the wind. Guys, get back to paddling! 🙂
The heavily inhabited 4-6 islands of El Porvenir came up, and I stopped briefly at the left one with the airport and the Senafront office to dig a new battery out of my bags. Many yachts were anchoring all around, and I spotted a German flag on a catamaran and pulled along side to have a small chat. I spoke with a crew member who told me he would muster off tomorrow, as he was not getting along with the skipper. In fact a grumpy old man just then came out, and barked for the passport as he had to see the office for the ZARPE (permit) – glad I am my own captain, not having to deal with crew members and even don’t need a ZARPE…
I planned to paddle up to the next group of islands, as here there were way too many people and yachts, and I was hoping to find an uninhabited one. I headed to the smallest, but a reef blocked the way, and I also saw eventually a small hut on it and a fisherman just upfront. I rather turned in to the left for a very beautiful circular one with airy palm trees and a white beach all around, also with huts on one end, but I would simply have to ask at the huts to be allowed to camp!
I knew the Kuna people living quite independent here at the islands of San Blas are a maternal society, and I was feeling all right when I saw a woman and a young teenie girl in front of the huts. I don’t think the old woman spoke much Spanish, but the young girl did, and I think they understood my question to be allowed to camp on the back side of the island for one night.I gave them my card, and the lady nodded, but also presented me some colourful hand crafted mask-like cloths to buy. But sorry, no room on board… maybe that was her “price” for me to stay here?
I started to put up camp, and soon a tiny Kuna man came by to watch and to help, obviously the husband of the family.He spoke some Spanish, and was smiling friendly when I asked again to be allowed to stay for one night. We even made some jokes, and he asked me if I’d like to stay in the (half broken down) hut in the middle of the island, told me I should take some pictures of his family! I understood the hut would have cost some $$, but that he also wanted to make money for the pictures I only learned later. But he let me do my business, and when my camp was up, two dinghies with yacht people came for snorkeling and surfing on the reef break. The tiny Kuna man waved to them very invitingly to come over! We chatted nicely, I gave them my card, and the Kuna man also got one with which he happily went off. I also snorkelled a bit on the very pretty reef, and the yachties invited me for dinner on their yacht. But my camp was already up and I didn’t wanted to leave things alone there too long, so sorry!
I just finished my shower, and was alone again, when the tiny man came up again, asked me if I wanted to sleep here, and suddenly said: “Ten Dollars” I said “No, yo no tengo 10 dollars! I come with a small cayuco, not with a huge yacht!”, “and the lady agreed on me to stay here and didn’t say anything about money!” I thought this was a bit late for him also to ask, as he watched and helped me to make camp without any $$ request! These people on this island seem to be too close to all those anchoring yachts, trying to make $$ on everything. Who can blame them… but the demand for permit and $$ didn’t feel right to me, so I retreated into my tent, said “Good Night” and he also went off, not without having kicked away three of “his” inviting coconuts in front of my tent. Not that I could open them anyway…
Fortunately the island with the palm tree forest was open enough to let the breeze through, so the night was not too bad. I just had to take care where I put up my tent and stored my kayak, as there were ripe coconuts occasionally falling down and old branches, which sounds a bit scary at night!
When I wanted to write my usual update on my computer, I noticed it had taken some water from the small puddle inside my front hatch on the edges of the obviously over time rubbed up Aquapac. Fortunately the water came only from a leaking water bag, and was not salt water, so I had some hope the now unreliable computer may do the job again next day after drying out! I literally hung it on a laundry line inside my tent, in the same position it was standing in front of the bulkhead inside the hatch where it soaked up a bit water. What came in, must come out…hopefully!!!