Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Blue star on top

Na from Panama!

"Na" is hello in Kuna, the language of the indigenous people in whose autonomous territory we have now entered. We said good-bye to Colombia yesterday morning and motored around the corner and along the coast to Puerto Escoses, or Scottish Bay, where at the end of the 17th century, some Scots arrived and established Fort Saint Andrew. Unfortunately, due to malaria, yellow fever and plain old starvation, 3000 people arrived over two trips, and 2000 of them died here. Four years later, the project was given up for good and those still living escaped back to Europe.

We have had our yellow fever vaccines, are far enough off-shore to be mosquito free thereby avoiding malaria, and ate chicken curry for dinner to ward off starvation, so I expect our fate will be different from the poor Scots!

We saw dolphins approach the boat as we turned into the bay, so I am also taking that as a good luck sign. Otherwise, there is not much here. There are a few Kuna huts, including some that are built about 50 metres off shore, a lot of palm trees and jungle and I expect quite a few fish on the reefs. It is VERY quiet.

We have seen a couple Kuna in dugout canoes, including some that came over to chat. In basic Spanish (which I suspect was not his mother tongue either) we manage to discuss how long we were staying, that they caught a turtle in the mountains and are having it for dinner and that they will come back to sell us fish and maybe lobster. Not bad for our language skills and an inter-cultural exchange.

The plan is to work our way up the Panamanian coast this week, sailing during the day (or motoring depending on the wind) and stopping to anchor for the night. The "paradise" part of the San Blas is at the west end, although I can't say this is half bad.

PS. Blue star at the top refers to the Panamanian flag. We accidentally sailed most of the way today with the flag upside down. My fault, the Captain guessed blue star on top and I second guessed with red. He was right - I guess that's why he gets to be Captain!

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