Location: Underway to Colon, Panama
A pod of very relaxed dolphins decided to grace us with their presence this morning. As Argo is usually underway when a pod comes swarming in, the typical dolphin sighting is full of action-packed adrenaline pumping action. Old Flipper and his merry band are jumping, surfing, and otherwise trying to be the most rad dolphin on the sea. It was a treat to see the serene side of these otherwise rowdy creatures. We need more tranquil dolphins in the world. Dolphins that take it slow scratch their backs on the anchor chain and turn off half their brain on occasion.
We are beginning our second day in the land of the Kuna Yala. The Kuna are an indigenous people that have lived in the San Blas atolls for generations. In the 1920s the Panamanian government tried to exert control over the region and were met with bloody aggression. Several Panamanian authorities died in a rebellion, and the United States had to get involved to stop a full-blown war. The Kuna, while a part of the country of Panama, is an autonomous region that is entirely self-governed. There are many special rules and regulations all geared toward protecting their atolls, and preserving their way of life. For this reason, many of the reefs, rivers, and forests are all in excellent condition. They won’t even take an outboard engine up many of the rivers so that they may be kept clean for drinking water. Many of the rivers are teeming with gold, but again, it is illegal to pan for it, and the Kuna themselves leave the rivers in peace. They are very kind and welcoming people, and it is wonderful to see a more harmonious relationship with the natural world still present today. The students managed to get a snorkel underway and see the wonderful reef.
Unfortunately, poor Captain Bryant did not get to see much of the splendor of the San Blas as he tirelessly worked to get all 24 persons on board cleared through Panamanian Immigration. The Kuna were happy to allow us in their territory, but the Panamanians were a bit grumpy and not looking forward to processing 24 passports and all the paperwork that accompanies the process. The vessels that typically clear in here are cruisers with smaller groups, so the officials were less than pleased to see our cohort arrive. The first official wouldn’t even see poor Bryant and the second official went out of his way to grumble about the first and move as slowly as possible. A full 28 hours after arriving, we were still having difficulties getting cleared into Panama. For this reason, we decided to move to Colon a bit early, and get to a more developed location that would be able to easily process all the paperwork in an efficient manner.
We are underway now, setting the staysails and making for Coln. The San Blas has been beautiful, but I am excited to head to the mouth of the Panama Canal. It is such a monumental engineering achievement, and I am sure the engineers that had poured their pride and hearts into the project would be elated to know how well it is functioning to this day. To the Pacific, we go!
Pictured: Shots from our reef snorkel; Bianca and Amy getting back on Argo from the dingy Nopadone; Ivan/s lobster that he bought, cooked, and shared with everyone.
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