Sunday, March 21, 2010

San Blas- Part III

Tara left while I was away so now after two weeks in Ustupu for High States we too are on our way with a small semi-okay weather window travelling with IMSIM. We continue to not have much sunshine. We’ve got a real choppy swell with a lot of vegetative debris in the water---Something??? hit us so now we are both on duty watching the seas for more potential threats.

By 01145 the sea is looking a lot more turquoise but not clear enough for swimming. We decide to stop and anchor off Ailigandi. We say good-bye to IMSIM who have headed further west. There is one other boat here…Andrea &Andreas on board AKKA come by to say hello. They are from Germany. We have seen their boat off and on since Cartagena but had not officially met.

Ailigandi is our first rolly anchorage in quite some time. Going ashore to explore and check in we come across one restaurant. We make plans to meet AKKA for lunch; the menu today is fries, fried chicken and salad. Total cost including drinks 9.50.

This is the first island we have seen Kuna women drinking beer….and not just one.
We met Joseph digging out two canoes. A sign of the times; if we want a picture we have to pay.

We learnt out of a population of 1400 people only 20 actively continue to farm on the main land. The church minister said to AKKA the island is plagued with drugs; an easier way of life for the Kuna to earn a living.

Plus the locals have approximately 500 family members working on the mainland sending back money. To-day we saw a Colombian boat arrive to the dock and then surprisingly did not stop; just turned around and left… We must admit this has not been one of our favorite Islands. That's the beauty of cruising...If we don't feel comfortable we just move on.

Having decided to head for Mono Island we are fortunate to have a long narrow reef on our starboard helping a bit to protect us from the high seas that are hitting us mid-ship and of course the wind is on our nose. We have only a bit of head sail out and the motor is running at 2200rpm….
One and a half hours later we are already anchored with 9.7 feet under the keel two miles SW of Tupile. We had a nice surprise with AKKA arriving shortly after us. It looks like we have a good half knot current running into the anchorage. We are somewhat concerned with two unfriendly signs stuck in one of the reefs. Basically telling us for our visit we must use a Kuna guide and if we disrespect these rules our goods may be confiscated???? This mangrove lined anchorage is not inhabited. Sure enough around 1500 hours an ULU arrives and collects ten dollars from us. We feel there should be no problem staying here now for a couple of days.

Each day we spend time planning potential waypoint co ordinates for stops along our way further west.
One evening we went ashore with Andrea and Andreas to burn garbage. Randy dug a good size hole with our machete.

On our way back to the boats Andrea thought she saw a Caiman so that evening Randy and I sat patiently on the bow of High States watching and waiting. Sure enough we see a long “branch” heading to shore against the current. We can only assume it was a Caiman.

We’ve got a much brighter day today. We decide to wait until 0900hours to let the sun rise higher in the sky for our next journey to either Aridup which is out on a reef or Snug Harbour.

By 1145 we’re off Aridup, a truly beautiful spot if calm conditions. We feel its too rolly so we decide to go into Snug Harbour.. Initially we try one bay that is picture postcard perfect only to find it is too deep.

We move on to a bay to the East, the entrance between two easily visible reefs and anchor in 25.8 feet. Originally I did not want to stop at Snug Harbour as I thought it was going to be so busy. Imagine my surprize to find we are the only boat for a day until AKKA arrives.

An ULU comes by offering lobster so tiny we say “No, come back tomorrow with “Grande” and we will buy”. Later another ULU arrives with lobster and says the other boat will not be by tomorrow as the men are working at the new hotel. This man wants ten dollars for ten lobsters. Again they are way too small. He will also bring us ten loaves of bread tomorrow for one dollar and six mangoes for one dollar. We buy the ten lobsters throwing them back into the sea. We can’t keep doing this as it will cost us a small fortune. Tomorrow we will be stern and just say NO!!! Before this gentleman leaves he asks for a magazine; then a hat; we give him both….Kuna definitely are not shy….

Snug harbour is a gorgeous well protected anchorage. We anchored off Apaidup.
We dinghy down to Playon Chico to ask about burning garbage. The surrounding shoreline water is full of garbage. We were led to the church where the pastor spoke English. In fact he was from California and as luck would have it the Village elders were also here. After a lengthy discussion between the elders we were told we could burn anywhere we pleased.
Here again the children kept asking for their pictures to be taken. Of course we oblige and they excitedly look at themselves. One pulled on my arm..$1.00…I was surprised to say the least and gave a firm NO. Reading the cruising guides we understood the adults do not like their picture taken and that is why unless they ask us to take their picture or we ask first and receive their permission we respect their wishes. But the children; they constantly follow us around asking to have their picture taken so they can see themselves on the screen.

Heading back to High States we came across a Hotel " Sapibenga” perched over the waters edge on the small island of Usoup. We stopped to see if they were open for lunch. They said yes and of course our next question always is: Cuanto cuesta (how much). Lunch is 10.00 each with beer and wine an extra $1.They will serve chicken, beef or fish. We explain $10. is too much, what about $8. Plus AKKA arrived this morning so there may be four customers instead of two. We agree on the $8, confirm with AKKA that they would come along then dinghy back to confirm we will want lunch for four. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, the food okay. The meal even included fresh fruit for desert.

We decided after four days we were ready to move on. Saying adios to AKKA we’re on our way to Nargana. We in fact have worked out three options depending on weather conditions.

Feb. 9 By 0820 we’ve got the jib out with a good breeze. We’re in four to seven foot swells travelling 6-7.4 knots. We’ve had a few squalls along the way and while anchoring at Nargana it is pouring with rain. High States had a good wash through the squalls so we start to collect water. An hour later the two boats in front of us pick up anchors so we move up.
Nargana (Yandup in Kuna) & Corazon de Jesus (Akuanustatupu) are two islands joined by a steel bridge. We did not see many women in traditional dress of molas and their wini beads as the islands have decided on a more Western lifestyle. There now is running water on Nargana so we managed to get 200L for $3.We also bought gasoline at $4.50 a Kuna gallon. The diesel generator plant runs 24 hours a day and is easily heard in the anchorage.

We met Federico who takes garbage for a small donation. He is trying to teach the young Kuna to be more environmentally aware not throwing their garbage in the water. He introduces us to his brother who owns one of the grocery stores. $4 for a litre of wine, not bad, and he had a good assortment of fruits and vegetables.

Then up the Rio Diablo to do laundry, We found the river not nearly as impressive as Sugandi off Ustupu however it was a great spot to do the laundry, literally dragging the sheets behind the dinghy for their rinse. We swam at the local sandbar watching for Caiman.

Entering and leaving Rio Diablo is not only a challenge due to its shallowness but also full of fallen trees. We’ll probably head for Green Island tomorrow, also known as Kanlidup.. Rumour has it, the snorkelling is good.

We met Drew & Shelley (RAPID TRANSIT) from Australia. They graciously went around the anchorage sharing their Macarel.
Pouring rain is beating on us again. No time like the present to collect more water. Within half an hour all the tanks are full again.
One of the many Colombian trading boats.
Unfortunately what fresh fruit and vegetables we do not have much shelf life. On new grapefruit is full of worms...

We managed to trade books with Shelley and Drew before heading into town, one last trip for more fruits and vegetables. Slim-pickens today….Only managed to find watermelon and 2 garlic. By 1045 we’re heading the short few miles to Green Island. See Part IV

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