Thursday, April 25, 2013

Carti Sagdup Island—San Blas Islands Continued...

Monday morning, Martin and David took the tender in to clear us through Panamanian immigration so that we could go and visit some of the islands in the San Blas.  There are over 120 small islands in this area, and most of them are uninhabited.  There are four main islands (yet small) that a lot of the Kuna Indians call home. 

With Martin and David at customs, Sue and I got busy cleaning up the boat.  After six days at sea, there were linens to be changed, floors to be cleaned and showers to be scrubbed.  I have found my kindred spirit in cleaning, as Sue loves a good scrubbed sink as much as I do.  We were all too happy to get Amara back to her lovely self again.  After we had done some laundry and were getting ready for lunch, Martin and David returned.  We promptly pulled up anchor and headed for the island, Carti Sagdup.
Passing through a house to get to the
main street from the dock.
Now, I don’t mean to sound naïve, but I was preparing myself to go to a bunch of stores on Carti Sagdup to buy the local handicrafts.  What I wasn’t prepared for, until we set foot on the island, was how primitive it was.  

There, we were met by “John” who was an older fellow who said he once helped in the building of the Panama canal back in the forties.  John was also a snide entrepreneur because the minute he saw us driving up in our tender, he ran out to welcome us to the island and “invite” us to his home.  While walking from the dock (which was hardly a dock) we had to walk through someone’s home to get to the main street.  John turned us left, and then right, and then left again.  Winding us down alleys until we finally made our way to his home. 
John's home.  This is a typical Kuna family home.  Sand floors, little to no furniture with hammocks.  The roofs are made of palm fronds and keep the hut dry even in the harshest of tropical storms.
Purchasing  traditional "Molas" from John's wife.
I was in a bit of a shock when we got to his home to see that he and his family were actually living on a dirt floor with hammocks as beds.  I was more than happy to purchase some Molas from his wife as well as some long-strand beads that the women use to wrap their legs in daily.  John was very proud of his large and spacious home and even pointed out his satellite television to us.  I let him give me a tour, still in shock at how primitive these people still live. 

The Kuna's have a matriarchal society, where the woman handle the money and the men move into their wife's home.  Most of the women in the village were dressed in traditional Kuna Indian clothing.  They take the Mola’s and fashion them into shirts and wear a colorful sarong around their waists with the beads around their legs and feet.  Of course, I was mesmerized by the fashion of these women.  I had just come from a swim in the ocean and was still in my tank top and shorts and felt severely underdressed standing next to them.

Walking the dirt alleys of this island called Carti Sagdup was very humbling, yet what I noticed was that the kids were just kids having fun in the streets.  Mothers were reading to their children in their huts.  Children were attending school and everyone was going about their daily lives.  
The local school where the classroom was
outside as well as smaller classes being held inside.
Children playing in the streets.
Of course, Lily in her stroller was a big attraction to the local women and children.  Everywhere we went, the children would run up to Lily and say, “Hola!” and then I would tell the children in Spanish that Lily couldn’t walk or talk.  They were very silent as they just stared at her.  We would then go on to the next house to see the handicrafts and then come back out to see even more children had gathered to see the little girl being pushed in a stroller.  
Three little girls especially loved seeing Lily in her stroller.  We watched them as they eyed her and looked at the specifics of Lily's stroller.  Then they disappeared.  Sue and I thought that maybe they were so interested because they had never seen a stroller.  However, we were tickled when they came running around the corner with their baby doll in her stroller!  Then they started laughing as they came over to me and pushed their baby as I pushed mine, all the while smiling and laughing.
We walked all around the island and went from house to house looking at their crafts.  Sue and I purchased several Molas as well as some purses made from a Mola pattern.  

Pretty soon we were “Mola-ed out” and decided it was time to start heading back to our tender.  The problem was that we had twisted and turned so many times that every time we thought that we had found our way to the dock, we would end up in someone’s living room.  I know it’s hard for most to understand how we would end up in someone’s living room.  However, most of the homes were part of the ally as well.  
The bathroom cabinet.  
One point, I ended up at one of the many outhouses that the Kuna’s use to bathe and use as a restroom.  I really was set back by the filth on the outskirts of the island, but found the people trying their best to keep their homes as clean as possible when living on a tropical island with a dirt floors.   It was very humbling for me as it would be for anyone that came to visit these people.
Traditional dugout canoes "pangas" and behind
them are the local outhouses.

When we returned to the boat, I told Martin that I was sold on our new cruising lifestyle.  I loved our little adventure and only wished that more of my family and friends could have been with us to share in this experience.

I am sure that through the course of our journey and through this blog, I am going to say over and over again about how blessed we are.  However, let me make it clear that being “blessed” can be relative.  For example, some people are blessed with health.  Others are blessed with healthy children, and others are blessed with the opportunity to have the kind of experience that Martin and I had today.  I believe that the Kuna’s are blessed because everyone we saw, old and young, appeared to be happy, surrounded by family, and were very proud of their heritage.   It was such an amazing experience for all of us.