Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Chapter Comes to a Close

As I compose this article it is Easter afternoon and we are back in Colon, Panama. Sue and the kids are playing Mexican Train Dominoes (a Sunday tradition) with the other cruisers and I am enjoying a little quite time to do a bit of writing. We arrived back here last Wednesday after two great days of sailing from the San Blas Islands. It seems odd to be back where we started this little adventure 80 days ago. In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago and in others just minutes seemed to have passed. In either case we are adjusting to our new life and doing quite well.

Monday morning March 17 saw a significant chapter come to a close for us. As Sue and I navigated through the outer barrier reef of the San Blas Archipelago and into the open ocean this past Monday March 17th. I was reminded of the words of Steinbeck when he writes upon departing Baja California, "Adios mi Corazon". We turned the boat from our northern heading onto a due west run and with the main set we flew the Genoa in 15-20 knots of wind and soon the San Blas were behind us. These wonderful islands and their people were fading on the horizon and we were saying goodbye to the place that will always be the first chapter in our cruising adventure. Adios mi Corazon.

One of our last memories of the San Blas will be of receiving a huge Mangrove Snapper as a "regalo" or "gift" from our friend Raphael that we had met the previous week on the island of Mamitupu where our kids ran and played with the Kuna kids. Raphael found us as he was heading from his island to fish near where we were anchored and we quickly took the opportunity to give him a bag of some extra things we had as well as some juice and cookies for his two girls that were going fishing with him. We never expected anything in return. What we have received was more than just a fish big enough to feed us for a few days. We received the gift of friendship from someone that was grateful that we had taken the time to visit his island and spend time with his people. We have left a little of ourselves and our hearts in the San Blas.

Our kids have also been impressed by the islands and their people. Here are a few excerpts from Amy and Marshalls logs. Amy says, "Our trip to the San Blas was an outstanding adventure but a whole different world. The way the Kuna live is so different to that in the U.S. but they seem happier than us most of the time. The kids all play together and think life is great without IPods, TV, DS, computers and all the things we have". She continues,"Another moving experience has been the pets. They cannot take care of pets like we do with no vets and very little food. I saw how the kids looked past the skinny shape and into the hearts of the animals and loved them for what they are".

Marshall writes,"It was so amazing in the San Blas. We saw the Kunas and how little they had yet they did not complain and we have so much and still want more. It was so cool to see a Kuna paddling out in his dugout canoe. It was really weird when we went to one island with a lot of kids because they act like we are a rockstar. I am writing these paragraphs in Colon and yesterday we went to Panama City. Wouldn't you wonder the adventure for a Kuna family going to Panama City for the first time? They would be like what is this knob thing and they would turn it and water would come out or they would walk into a building and it would be air conditioned."

What an amazing place these islands are. Beautiful sandy islets covered in coconut palms with wonderful reefs to dive and sites to see. The Kuna Indians are a warm, happy, welcoming and content people that taught us much in terms of being thankful for what we have and not wanting what we neither have nor probably don't need. We remain grateful for the opportunity we had to explore this wonderful part of our world at such a relaxed pace. Upon leaving Amy asked, "Daddy, can we come back here before we quite cruising?" I sure hope so sweetheart.

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