An inside look at the Kuna – New issues for an emerging culture

Palm Trees at dusk

Dusk in the Kuna Yala

Here again to talk about why and how various rumor is about. Rumor about difficulties of operating yachts for trips in the San Blas (Kuna Yala). It is June 2012 and I was only this week again in the local congresso ‘hall’. (A quaint place where three or four ‘elders’ lay in hammocks and smoke, and presumably listen, but also every so often erupt into dialogue with no one in particular.)  There does seem to be a point to the proceedings somewhere, but any one discussion moves from one evening to the next with the focus being more on how much can be said on the matter. Still, where we come from perhaps we have learned impatience?

So some time in the past, like more than 2 years ago, a few island ‘cabana’ owners, or hotels as they call them too, became a little jealous that some visitors chose the relative comfort and freedom of seeing San blas from a yacht. Since the incumbent older congresso members appear to be unseat-able (or unhammockable) they eventually have felt pressured into speaking up on behalf of these hotel owners. (-by the way I have several hotel owner friends and allies out here) So – the way of all bogged down political structures, slowly more and more congresso members have defaulted to the line of least resistance and verbalized that maybe its better to discourage the yachts from operating here.

Thing is, all those Kuna people around me, that I see almost daily, include the most active younger business men, one of the customs officials who issues boating permits, several hotel owners, and families of congresso members not only poo-poo the subject (as in ‘its so much talk’) but in fact I do not know of any actual control mechanism with respect to which vessels are unwelcome. In fact on the contrary, they ask me when my next trip is!

We have a mixture of old style Kuna and new Kuna. So I said ‘new’ Kuna. That’s what’s happening in San Blas. The real progressives are making good lives in a stunning landscape. They are doing business. Of course, however these are the guys who try and find something of more value than settling into political positions and pointing fingers. As I say -they are doing business -not just putting their hands out for money. (I stop at naming the well know location) Rumors abound too. Like Guna Yala and Kuna Yala. Who wrote that on the web? None of these locals know anything about that.

Anyway, back to being here…these fellows I mix with do not show the resistance to gringos or yachtsmen or the like. As I see it they want to do business, not just put their hands out for money. (un-like some other well know locations). So what’s wrong with that?

Up to early last year I was operating yachts for trips in San Blas. This year I return with much bigger and more comfortable craft. Wow! It was nice. (but what is nice?) What is nice is that despite all the talk I am welcomed with my plans. I don’t really understand people who face open resistance? What of it? We run excellent trips here. We use the local transport. (and that’s also ‘nice’, these guys I knew who worked doing fairly menial stuff for me last year, now have their own lancha businesses. Wouldn’t you? )

So as an ex Civil Engineer I give the local Kuna people real technical help on their much needed water projects. Twenty thousand dollars and no design from a well meaning open sandaled, Europe based ‘fundacion’, is not going to work.  (Though I applaud the sentiments) It needs the correct grade of pipe to be used.

Anyway I am getting to the point soon………

…and the point is………..we do great trips in the (web rated) 5th most unspoiled place in the world. We do yacht trips of three, to whatever, days… tailored to suit your but also very ‘digestible’, since we offer several options like your choice ‘cabin fill’ or charter the whole boat. For digestible read ‘value for money’.  We do great trips and darn if I am not fazed by any talk.  (see above) Have you picked up and browsed Eric Bauhaus ‘Cruising guide to Panama’ recently? I have. Actually I use it every second hour. Why? Because it’s brilliant. Also because he is a pioneer and I like to go where the other yachtsmen don’t bother to read. Hey – German mapping! It’s like German engineering.

So come on out and join us!  We have many San Blas cruises available for this summer.  The San Blas is a magically wonderful place to experience – the idyllic coco-palm lined islands, tranquil and transparent blue seas, a culture of wonderfully friendly peoples, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Cheers and hope to see you soon!


Cuisine while cruising…


Girls with Lobster

Catch of the day

Check this out.  When we all thought it was quiet… out of the water comes the original and best lobster and crab from San Blas.  Just ask Randall, Angela, and Mari’ and Joana!  We have been lucky, and of course i put the poor – still live – creatures straight to their culinary heaven.

Well I don’t know if that’s what seafood thinks when it’s being put to the knife…but it sure tastes good.  Apart from the ‘regular’ seafood above we had on board some rather hefty bellied Bonito and several snapper in there various shades and species, with some large red snapper, soft crisp white flesh.  (i do the shellfish ‘al ajo dulce’ (con lima) and I like to do the whole line fish grilled, it all really works well)



crab dinner on cruise in san blas




Believe it or not another addition the Latina Lady Lu freezer this month was fresh Carti Prawns. Still wiggling in the bag as i pushed them into the icy depths of the freezer. Anyone feeling guilty yet?  I doubt it.  ha ha.



snapper fish

snapper dish


So what else has happened out San Blas?  Well my beloved yellow canoe took a beating in very strange circumstances and will need a major repair (here comes West Systems epoxy…) so I was very unhappy about that (Darn just after the coffee press incident and all)

All in all we had another really fun trip but was relieved to drop anchor back at Nalunega just in front of their great little beach and the ‘old’ Hotel San Blas…so i could take stock again. Very pleased about my man Eric and his team who’ll wisk you off in his brand new lancha directly from their ‘muelle’, just in front of our anchorage, out to jeep pickup  at Carti, and on to the city.


Panama City

Panama City


Talking about the city I have just arrived here for about 5 days to get specialized materials for Lady Lu, and took this great shot. I have to say the noisy hot city does grow on you and has some great aspects to it. Panama generally grows on you…come out and visit us.  Next trip from the 20th april. cheers for now.