The San Blas is evidently a hot spot for mom visiting. Last month, Vlad’s mom stayed with us aboard Bettie for a week, and this month my mom and Bob came for five nights (too short a time!!). We bounced from anchorage to anchorage, being amazed at the tropical locale, buying an obscene number of molas (hey, we were supporting the Kuna economy, right?) and taking pictures of the entire school band on Isla Tigre along the way. What follows are a few highlights of the trip.
The good food – First off, I would like to give a shout out to our friends Frank and Gretchen who gave us the scrumptious permit for our last dinner with Mom and Bob. Best fish ever. Here’s a quick peek at the tropical smorgasbord we consumed just to make everyone hungry. Fresh fish with cucumber and carrot salad and potatoes; fresh lobster with rice, tomato slices and cabbage salad; squash soup with hot-from-the-oven beer bread; an appetizer of calamari from Vlad’s first spearfishing success (more on spearfishing later); and finally fruit and coconut curry with the aforementioned permit grilled on the side. Also, Mom and Bob are now converts to Vlad’s excellent fruit and fresh coconut rum concoctions. They are pretty irresistible.
The good sailing – We actually got to sail in the San Blas, for real. It’s been our first time with decent wind in Panama, and my mom was aboard to experience it. Twice, we had 15 knots on a reach, and it was refreshing to be able to shake out the sails for more than five minutes, the usual time we haul out the main and jib only to have the wind change direction or die completely. Mom looked about as happy as she gets sitting on the deck of the boat underway, and she didn’t even throw a winch handle overboard like the last time she visited!
Mom as the Kuna school photographer – On our second day, our friend Deo from Isla Tigre invited us to attend the school parade for one of the many Panamanian Independence days. The event consisted of the entire school dressing up in either traditional Kuna outfits or in adorable marching band uniforms and parading down the dirt streets to the beating of snare drums and the claps of beaming parents. It also happened to be Deo’s birthday, and he asked us to take a picture of him and his son as a gift. What happened next was both humorous and sweet. Deo wound up conscripting my mom into the role of school photographer, leading her around pointing at various confused looking 8-year-old Kuna children for her to photograph. She took photos of every kid in the parade, culminating in a photo session in the main square that was exactly like picture day in elementary school. She and Bob are going to print out the photos and send them to Isla Tigre along with some school supplies they need. Who knew being a school photog could be so much fun?
The storm in Nargana – The day before Mom and Bob had to fly out we traveled the 10 miles from the Holandes to Nargana where they had to catch their plane. We left early because we wanted to take Bob up the Rio Diablo to check out some crocodile action, but as we approached Nargana croc watching wasn’t looking so good. Big storm clouds were rolling down towards the island, and we dropped the anchor right as the rain hit. We, then, dropped the second anchor right as the wind hit, all 40 knots of it. The rain was stinging, and the wind was blowing so hard it was turning the tops of the waves to mist, a weather phenomenon known as a horsetail. Vlad and Bob went below to drink beer and read the West Marine catalogue, while Mom and I had a blast playing outside in the rain. We collected 40 gallons of water, filling our tank, all of our water jugs and a five-gallon bucket.
I wish that Mom and Bob had been able to stay a few more days. I just felt as though we didn’t get to do nearly enough fun stuff – not enough snorkeling, not enough island exploration and zero croc watching. We didn’t even get the chance to put them to work scrubbing the bottom! About the only we did do enough of was buy molas. I guess they will just have to come back.