San Blas

Trip Start Sep 30, 2013
Trip End May 31, 2014

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Where I stayed

Flag of Panama  , Kuna Yala,
Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday 26th December, boxing day
After a 5am start we were back on the last section of the pan American highway before it stops abruptly at the Darian gap. Then we turn off the main road and climb steeply into some mountains and I realize why this trip can only be completed by a 4 wheel drive SUV. After a couple of hours we arrive at a river where some odd looking indigenous types are milling about.

These are the Kuna people who govern themselves in a coastal strip and the 400 San Blas islands - they expelled their Panamanian masters in 1925. Their quasi independence has much to do with the USA, for whom this is a key area in the War on Drugs. 

We take a half hour motor launch ride to Jacqueline - a bow man punts the boat through a shallow patch of breaking waves and then keeps a lookout for floating debris (coconut trees) and snorkelers. As soon as we get aboard we are instructed in the rules of the boat, served breakfast and told to relax. The first mate (a very nice Turkish lady called Rengin) goes ashore with all or passports to complete the immigration formalities and then we steam off to anchor close by one of these idyllic islands.


The islands truly are the stuff of picture post cards.
In the evening we party! At least most of the others do - I gave up drinking games quite a while ago. We have 4 Americans, 4 Brits, 4 Swedes, 3 Aussies a Swiss and 3 Germans in addition to the Turkish captain and his wife and 3 other crew. We are joined by 2 intriguing American sisters, friends of the captain, who run a similar enterprise, taking backpackers between Columbia and Panama. See
 Partying goes on till 2am, by which time we are well away with he fairies.
Friday 27th December

After a pre breakfast dip off he boat, I apply my water proof SPF 50 and take a post breakfast rest in the sun. Then the skipper takes us off to an archetypal desert island where we are marooned for an hour. It takes me 90 seconds  to circumambulate the island. It is held together by 2 coconut trees and a patch of scrub. The dense mat of coconut roots go deep enough to tap into the brackish ground water and bind the sand together sufficient to resist the relentless onslaught of the ocean waves. To keep cool I float around on the leeward side allowing the waves to wash me up onto the golden sand.  Close to paradise - for an hour or so.
11am, Sunday December 29th  - on board Jacqueline in the Southern Caribbean, position 9.34 degrees  N,  76.67 degrees W.
We are 18 hours into our voyage from the San Blas islands to Cartagena making 6 knots with little wind. It is a gentle crossing in hot sun though not enough wind to sail. Last night was rather rougher. Most (though not I) took skipper`s advice and some sea sickness pills, and even so some were sick as dogs. Marian and I took a watch for a couple of hours in the night. One has plenty of time to think on these long crossings....and plenty of time to prepare (offline) blog updates. 
...later - Sunday afternoon

Midway through the afternoon the wind came up and we had some glorious sailing making over 8 knots in a slight sea. As the sun dissapeared  over the horizon we chatted and reviewed the last few fabulous days. 


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Viv Sullivan on

This was my favorite blog entry I could really identify with what you were doing...we loved the picture of you both together x

simoncole on

Thanks Viv! What you don't know is that in cuddling up I sat on and broke Si's sunglasses. Oops! But it was worth the good pic in the setting sun!

Alice Cotgreave on

Hi Simon and Marian!
I have just been catching up with your blogs and it all looks incredible!! I'm sure you have heard but we are just coming out of a very big storm in Cornwall (LOTS of flooding and coastal erosion) so it's nice have a little glimpse of sunshine through your pictures and blogs.
Happy new year to you both! Enjoy the rest of your travels.
Alice x

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