sailing through paradise
22.07.2013 - 25.07.2013 30 °C
To say we were excited about the next few days would be an understatement. After so much time in the snow and travelling around the mountains we could not wait to go to the San Blas Islands and enjoy the sun, the water and the coconuts. We woke up early and after a little breakfast, walked down to the pier and got on our first boat (more like a canoe) that would take us 20 minutes around the headland to the border town in Panama called La Miel. There we would meet up with Fabio, our captain, and board our boat for the tour, Green Moon. We were also able to pick up some cheap duty-free rum for our nights on the islands. After a short stop in La Miel we were soon on our way. The first leg of the trip was about an hour and a half long. The water was quite choppy and we sort of bounced along in our boat, but no one was sea sick so it was ok. After about an hour we began to see the islands we had come to visit. There were only a few at first but as we travelled further we could see more and more. They were all different shapes and sizes, some had little villages built on them, others were nothing more than a handful of palm trees on a sand beach. They looked amazing, like a scene out of a movie. The water beneath the boat was very clear and bright blue. The first island we stopped at was one of the bigger islands we'd seen. We had lunch and unloaded our bags, because we'd be spending the night there, before having a little explore of the village. The village itself was a traditional Kuna village, where everything was built out of timber, married women still wear tradition dress, everyone sleeps in hammocks, and they still poo directly into the sea. We too were going to be staying in hammocks! We then set off again in the boat to a nearby paradise island. The island looked like a scene out of Castaway. It was quite a small little island, with a reef just off the beach, and lots of coconut trees leaning right out over the water. The water was incredibly bright blue and shimmered in the sun. We lazed around on the island for the afternoon, spent a bit of time snorkelling and climbing the coconut trees. That night we returned to the village for showers (by bucket) and dinner. We then spent the evening sitting out on the deck over the water, drinking cocktails and chatting to the rest of our group.
We actually slept suprisingly well in the hammocks, but were woken by a huge storm at about 5 in the morning. The islands run up the coast of Panama, roughly in line with an area known as the Darian Gap jungle. This jungle is one of the wettest places on earth, and the islands seemed to get a lot of the same weather, with storms and heavy rain every night. Fabio also pointed out that the area of jungle is used by the drug traffickers trying to smuggle cocaine from Colombia to the US. Indeed drug boats are known to leave the Colombia and sail up the coast to the area we were visiting, where the drugs are dropped off and then carried by foot through the jungle, until they reach the Pan-American highway. As a result the area is strictly patrolled day and night by the USDA, and at night you can hear the police planes and boats patrolling up and down. Luckily we had no contact with any of this!
After breakfast we set off on a mammoth journey in our boat, and after about 5 hours of choppy sailing we eventually arrived at our home for the next 2 nights, Franklin Island. The island was absolutely tiny, you could walk round it in about 3 minutes. There was a kitchen and eating area, a bar, a volleyball court, a few huts built on the beach, complete with sand floors, where we would be staying, a few coconut trees and that was it! It was beautiful! We spent the afternoon lazing around on the beach and swimming in the warm sea. After dinner I went out fishing on the boat, but sadly only Nico caught a fish while Anna stayed behind. After fishing we had another chilled out night playing card with the rest of the guys and relaxing in the hammocks on the beach.
The next morning I woke up really early and went for a swim in the sea. It was lovely being able to wake up and almost roll into the sea! We spent the morning enjoying the island, playing frisby in the water, bat and ball on the beach, making human pyramids on the sand and taking silly photos. After lunch we got back in the boat to visit a few of the other islands. We stopped first at a natural swimming pool. It seemed to be in an area between two reefs and it was full of bright orange starfish. After that we stopped at another island where there was a shipwreck from over 60 years ago. We snorkelled around the wreck and sunbathed on the beach. It was great. Our last stop was another island that had a long spit of sand, where we took photos and enjoyed the beach. It was a brilliant afternoon, on some of the most beautiful islands I'd ever seen. That night we had a spontaneous toga and pirate party and a bonfire on the beach. It was a wonderful way to end a fantastic few days.
We spent our last morning on the island relaxing by on the beach. After lunch we boarded our boat for the last time and headed back to the mainland. There we were met by jeeps and driven along the worlds most undulating and bendy road (we had to stop after 20mins because we were all feeling sick) to Panama city.