16 February 2019 | San Blas
We are anchored off the densely populated islands of Nargana and Corazon de Jesus joined together by a large bridge. These two communities have given up the traditional Guna way of life and the villages are a mixture of block concrete buildings and traditional huts. The roofs of these buildings are all sporting satellite dishes for the flat screen televisions. We’d heard there was to be a carnival but on arrival we learnt the carnival had been postponed as it clashed with a major basketball match! Village life is still quite basic but we found a small restaurant, bank and a few shops selling fruit and veg. We also managed to pick up a Digicel SIM card so at last we have some internet, although reception on some of the islands will be sparse. They also have a good medical centre and a police station but there are still Sailas or chiefs in the communities. The people are friendly and we felt comfortable walking about.
We are cruising the San Blas islands with our friends Patricia and Julian from A Capella of Belfast. Yesterday we decided to be the intrepid explorers and take the dingy down the Rio Diablo. We had watched the Guna Indians in their pangas and ulus head off down the river and were curious to know why. We were also suitably dressed to walk the water pipe trail that leads you deep into the rainforest until you reach the source, a small lake and waterfall.
We followed the river down for about half an hour taking it cautiously due to shallows, sometimes having to lift the outboard motor to paddle, and avoid submerged tree trunks but also enjoying the kingfishers, herons and numerous other bird life.
The forest was dense and diverse with patches of banana cultivation along the edges. We concluded that much of the Guna activity was collecting fresh water as we watched them fill their plastic barrels and containers from the river.
We reached the trail and tied up the dingy. We had been told the forest had poisonous snakes and frogs, black panthers and crocodiles. Julian was prepared with his machete and grisly bear pepper spray to hand but in reality it was a well used path and the chances of encountering danger we thought was small.
We walked in the heat and high humidity for over two hours following the white plastic water pipe, until we were having to zigzag across the river and guess where the path went next. We didn’t reach the water source deciding best to turn around and not to get lost. It was a great hike which we all enjoyed although now a little fatigued. Safely back in the dingy we headed back towards the mouth of the river and then got the fright of our lives when we saw a 10ft crocodile slip into the river just a few feet from our flimsy dingy! Get me out of here........