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Anthem Adrift
Mayberry Not
01/18/2010, Nargana & Corazon de Jesus, Kuna Yala

January 18

Since only a trifling further than Isla Tigre and sail was magnificent, ended up at Nargana, one of two connected islands that have given up traditional ways. It features television, bars and crime. Highly skeptical that felonious behavior fills it, but there's a jail just in case. No sign of Aunt Bee. Also at hand are a bank, internet (dubiousness reigns) and really loud generator to supply power for all the nifty civilization.

Skimpy skein of skivvies demands depositing duds in local laundry lest numerous noses notice. Turnaround time determinative. May move manana.


Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock
01/16/2010, Tannaquetupu, Kuna Yala

January 17

SSBed this morning with Aussie friends, Bristol Rose, arrived 14th from St. Lucia. Got the stink beat out of them for eight days, particularly north of Colombia. Good thing about going with a group (they sail with the World ARC as far as Australia) is support. Bad thing is weather windows be hanged, you go when they do. Likely this will be their worst passage of the trip. Should cover 50 NM or so to their location by Tuesday.

Motors are prohibido past a certain point up the Mono River (old guy whose riverbank access to his territory is across from sign didn't seem so happy to see us), so most of tour was spent with three paddles dragging my Caribe. Perhaps this limitation is to give crocs a passable shot at those who encroach on their territory. Never saw one, they are said to be rare, so acquired no knowledge of their taste for hypalon or stringy old human. Also no contact with Tarzan, but did experience some of the movie soundtrack.

Finally replaced old Dahl fuel filter with shiny new Racor this afternoon. Unfortunately shiny new fittings are wrong barb size so it's ballast for now. Budget Marine in Panama City or West Marine in St Pete will enjoy my infusion of dollars. Typical boat project took three times plan and requires unavailable parts.

Isla Tigre tomorrow, Lemon Cays Tuesday, clear in to Panama at Porvenir Wednesday morning. Muck about San Blas for a few more days then head for internet to prepare for return home February 1. Next several weeks will not allow wallowing in seven deadly sins, particularly sloth, with possible exception for gluttony.


Two Piles of What?
01/16/2010, Tannaquetupu, Kuna Yala

January 16

Expecting slightly better wind angle, unwrapped main in anticipation of using some of that really expensive sailing stuff with which boat was built. Not today. Wind backed and weather guy's dire sea-state forecast, unrealized yesterday, was a touch more applicable today. Concern mounted, for awhile, that Anthem would fling off uninsured dinghy and motor, clinging desperately to davits, but stern (one may disregard minor pun) reprimand and judicious trimming of appropriate straps quelled nascent disaster.

After exhaustive deliberation, strategy was formulated to visit island village of San Ignacio de Tupile (two-PEE-lay) this afternoon, then explore river manana. Ubiquitous Colombian trading boat was on small town dock making dinghy mooring a challange, but high skill and perseverance paid off yet again. Several citizens were eager to help and almost did. Arecio (erase-e-o), who speaks nearly as much English as I habla Espanol showed us around. As there is basically one street on this very narrow island, it didn't take so long. Again struck by ingenuous friendliness of Kuna. Purchase of very nice mola punctuated tour.

Molas, for the uninitiated, are intricate, hand-made appliques depicting, mostly, abstracted local flora and fauna. Prices rise as proximity to cruise ships around Porvenir increase. Today's unique purchase is map of Panama with previously discussed accoutrement.

For those wondering where one 'goes' in a densely packed town completely surrounded by water, outhouses stick out over the shoreline everywhere. Nobody swims near home.

And so, with this much anticipated (will not embarrass Bob or Cal by mentioning them... oops!) scatological comment behind us, adios for now.


Kuna Megalopolis
01/15/2010, Ustupu, Kuna Yala

January 15

Another day, another island. Each one as freshly captivating as the last. Ustupu, the big city, contains 8000 people not counting mimis (children). Looking like an Amerindian Venice, north end is traversed by numerous canals spanned by bridges. Apart from several plazas and a few wider avenidas, the place is chock-a-block with houses separated by narrow paths. Built with vertical bamboo walls, dwellings have packed sand floors and frond roofs said to last 15 years and not leak. Hammocks are the sleeping accommodation of choice.

A Colombian trading boat, "El Nino Jesus", has apparently off-loaded and is awaiting return cargo, probably coconuts (previously used as money, they now go for about 25 cents). Kuna Yala is lousy with the trees and each and every one, no matter how inaccessible, is owned by a Kuna. You don't mess with the fruit, even aground. Using OPM after personal funds were depleted, purchased bread, intricate mola, feather painting and dinner with cerveza.

Want to stay awhile in every village, but uncivilization awaits, so tomorrow should find ILs and me further up the chain in San Ignacio de Tupile (Tannaquetupu). Eric Bauhaus in his guide suggests the ideal way to see nearby Mono River and its "very large crocodiles", is by kayak... Uh huh. Think I'll take dinghy with fast motor.

Apologize for travelogue. Will try to limit future aberrations.


A Sanguine Soiree
01/14/2010, Isla Pinos, Kuna Yala

January 14

Visualize having a 12 year old daughter who just had her first menses. You paint her black and perhaps other colors, cover her in clothing from head to ankle and invite everyone to a party for her using the largest building in town. All the guys, several at a time, get to dance back and forth with another set of guys who then hand each one a large bowl of alcoholic beverage which he chugs. It's like a ronde that repeats for hours. (Apparently Kuna don't usually indulge in alcoholic beverage, but when occurring, the activity proceeds until they fall over) The separated women, at least in this village, don't seem to have as lively a time.

Later in the evening a four foot curtain is erected and young men stand in line to peer over followed by a line of women. No personal knowledge, but assume debutante is behind wall. The object of all this splendid attention, finally, is given a new name as she has now become an adult. What newly post-pubescent American girl wouldn't just love it?

Cruising guide indicates the sacred "chicha" ritual is held once or twice a year and requires a month's preparation. Suggest anyone interested in a more detailed and almost certainly more accurate version check Google.

Ustupu (oos-TOO-poo), largest village in San Blas, looks to be tomorrow's stop, thirteen miles of unprotected beating. Seas, still a boisterous 10 or 11 feet, shouldn't cause great angst or, at least, not for long.


An Event of Note
01/13/2010, Isla Pinos, Kuna Yala

January 13

Eventually, a few projects need to get done. Watermaker filter wants replacing and a second Racor, to replace the execrable fuel filter/water separator from Dahl, has been neglected in a locker since St. Maarten. That forgetfulness thing can sometimes work to advantage, but I really ought to free up the space and chuck the junk.

Half the trip to Isla Pinos (Kuna call it Tupbak for the whale it resembles), being in the lee of several islands, was mostly unaffected by the nine foot northerly sea. One may rightly infer at this point that the other half was a tad lumpy. Anchorage, not well protected, is also subject to some motion. Good sleeping if roll remains minimal.

Seven boats here have been invited to some sort of drinking party at the local village. Spirits? Didn't know Kuna indulged. Something made from sugar cane was the cryptic comment. Rum? Maybe it's just sweet water. Report to follow.

- Later

The stuff is called chicha. Cooked and fermented in partially buried ceramic pots with ground coffee beans, it leaves one a drunken insomniac. Abstinence at this celebration, which purpose will be elucidated on the morrow and would be inconceivable at home, was scarcely an option.

Suffice, for now, to say that it was a fascinating (there's that word again) experience and perhaps a rare one for non-Kuna.


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