On Thursday morning, the 13th, we weighed anchor around 10:30 in the morning and made a four-mile, one-hour journey toward the mainland to Kanlildup, otherwise known as Green Island. The anchorage is known for providing good shelter and good snorkeling. To access the anchorage, one must enter through a relatively narrow break in the reef which protects the south side. I remind you, once again, that all charts are unreliable for navigating the San Blas Islands, so we had to navigate by sight. Fortunately the aerial photos in Eric Bauhaus’ cruising guide to Panama are very helpful, because visibility was poor. We somehow made it through the opening in the reef without even realizing we had done so, and this was done based only on the aerial photographs and a mental assessment of where we were in relation to the island.
We dropped our anchor in 30’ of water in a beautiful protected anchorage which was occupied by only one other vessel which belonged to a very pleasant couple from Spain with whom we were able to chat later in the day. After a quick lunch, we launched the kayak and paddled our way to the westernmost point on Green Island. From there we walked completely around the island, which was larger than any of the previous cays we circumambulated. The views through the palms and across the white sand as we made our way around were inspiring. When we returned to the kayak, we tested the waters for snorkeling, but found the sea grass so shallow and extensive that we soon gave up.
Instead, we kayaked the half-mile southward to a very small island graced with tall palm trees. It took us all of three or four minutes to walk around the beaches which circle the tiny cay, which is called Waisaladup. When we first arrived, their were a group of folks on a tour which had been brought over the mainland for an afternoon of relaxation. They had gone by the time we left, an hour or so later. On the way over from Green Island, we noticed some nice coral which might provide for fine snorkeling. So, we slipped on our flippers and pulled on our masks to try our luck on Waisaladup. We were not disappointed. Once we made our way through some shallow sea grass, the depths dropped off to about 6 to 10 feet which was a perfect depth in which to guide along the coral heads gazing at all manner of fishes. We saw lobster and rays and numerous varieties of angel fish. When finished, we walked around the island once more before kayaking back to Beatitude.
Cindy made her wonderful spaghetti which was accompanied by a delicious bottle of a Chilean Carmenere red wine. After dinner we sat on the foredeck in the twilight sipping the remainder of our wine and singing old hymns, the Lord’s Prayer and the Doxology. It was a truly wonderful evening whose only detriment was the invasion of an army of no-see-ums shortly after dark which forced us inside. The next day, when I took over some bread to our Spanish neighbors, I was told how wonderful the music was which emanated from our boat the previous evening (referring to our singing). I first apologized, hoping it wasn’t too loud, but they were effusive in their praise. I’m glad they enjoyed our singing, which we often do while sitting on the bow at night.
On Friday morning, we were visited first by Lisa, the “master mola maker.” The Guna women are renowned for their making of molas, beautiful appliqué shirts and fabrics intricately made by sewing and cutting different layers of colorful cloth. Each mola is unique, often of abstracted forms of birds, animals or marine life. Lisa pulled up along side our vessel with two other adults and two small children on board selling her wares. We bought a small pillow cover, so that we had something by which to remember the Gunas. “Lisa,” as he is known, is an infamous transvestite who visits visiting yachts to show off his merchandise.
After a visit by Lisa, we were visited by another Guna gentleman from whom we bought tomatoes, several $5.00 lobsters, and Guna bread, a delicious, round bread for which the Guna are well-known. The short stature of the Guna is striking. They are physically small, rivaled in diminution only by the pygmies. Fortunately, they are peaceful and non-aggressive. Crime of any sort is extremely rare in Guna Yala.
In the afternoon, I took the kayak out alone while Cindy remained aboard to paint once again. She likes to take advantage of the calm anchorages here in the San Blas Islands to paint in the afternoons. I visited a nearby uninhabited island, Kuigaladup, which, unlike most of the islands we’ve visited was difficult to walk around. The massive amounts of no-see-ums which attacked me meant my time on this island was short-lived. On the way over, however, I saw three small spotted eagle rays swim by the kayak in two or three feet of water over a sandy bottom. I then paddled to Waisaladup once again where I snorkeled the same reefs we had snorkeled the day before, once again enjoying the coral and the fishes, including three large squid hovering over a coral head.
Friday evening, for dinner, we enjoyed our lobster and Guna bread, followed by a wonderful time on the foredeck, once again watching the sun set and enjoying the cool breeze. My sleep for the next several nights would be fitful due to the over 100 no-see-um bites I had sustained in the previous 24 hours.