Goodbye Real World, Hello Island Paradise
08/27/2011 - 08/30/2011
Sorry it's been a while since the last post, I was 'stranded' on an island in paradise.
So there was a pretty large rain storm so we didn't end up going to church on Friday. Ortega is a big Yankees fan so we just watched the game at his house. One of the pitchers, Mariano Rivera, is from Panama so they televise a lot of the games. There are a couple other Panamanian players in the MLB so they cover a lot of them. As I said earlier, Ortega's wife is a indigenous Kuna also and decided to redo her leg 'bracelets.' All of the older Kuna women wear them on their legs and arms. I haven't done any research on them but it appears that they wear them from a young age and when you look at their legs, you can tell that it has some effect on their bone and muscle growth as a lot of them are bow-legged. Early in the morning, she took the two chairs outside and started the process. First she took off the existing ones she had on, then started putting the new ones on. A little later, one of her friends came over and helped her. The process takes almost the entire day and is apparently pretty hard on the back. The patterns are pretty intricate and colorful.
While we were out touring the City, Ortega bought his daughter an umbrella and his wife some fabric for her native clothes she made. I found it a little wierd as he showed me a couple times that the sandals he wore were torn and he didn't have money to get new ones. Later in the night, he was packing his stuff into a cloth sack as he was going back to work in San Carlos the next day. I had a small day backpack I didn't need anymore so I gave it to him so he could use to take to and from work. He was happy and thanked me...then gave it to his daughter. She already had two backpacks but he didn't even think to use it for himself. His daughter had nice clothing and new shoes and it seemed that even though he, more than once, told me things about him being poor, he did have opportunities to get himself things he needed but instead chose to give his daughter things that may not have been necessary. It's hard to explain in words but i've been struggling to understand this over the last couple days.
Was pretty tired from the long day in the City and knew I had to get up at 4am so went to sleep a little early. I forgot to mention that the night before, I was awaken by a pretty loud noise outside at around 4. Not sure what it was but as I tried to go back to sleep, I heard some noise at the trash can behind me. I did not want to look because I was pretty sure it was mice or rats coming to feast on the food in there. This was one of those times where I had to shake my American mentality and realize that this was just the nature of their lives and something that I had to deal with. I finally put in my earplugs and went back to sleep. When i got up to the next night around the same time I heard the noise again. I flashed my headlamp in that direction so I didn't get any surprises when I turned on the light. Ortega got up too and waited while I finished packing up my stuff. We headed out to the main road to wait for my ride. When they arrived, I thanked him and gave him $20. While he was thankful, I got the feeling that he considered it a payment and not a gift. I wonder if that money will go to buy something they need, like a table or shoes, or if he will use it to buy stuff that is not a necessity. Is it my business to care? maybe or maybe not but it's something that bothers me...and something that I may not ever be able to understand.
My ride in the 4x4 was about 2 hours through some windy and hillly roads. I felt a little car sick a couple times and was thankful to finally arrive at the boat port. I paid my $2 fee and waited for my boat to arrive with the other people that were arriving that day also. The boat ride was about an hour long and was pretty amazing. After slowly manuvering through a small canal, it opened up to an awesome ocean view with small islands dotting the horizon. I've never seen anything like the water, it was navy blue and seemed so clean and clear. There are 360+ islands in San Blas, mostly really small. We passed some that were no bigger than a normal yard in the US and even a couple that only had a couple palm trees and a hut or two. I took some great pics, will post them later, so you'll have to see them for yourself. We arrived at Isla Igua, and pulled right up to the beach. There was a girl reading a book on a chair partially submerged in the water and people chilling on hamocks. The island was maybe the size of a football field and only took about 15 minutes to walk around. Half of the island was for other 'resorts' and the other half was the inhabited by about 30 Kuna people. In terms of facilities, it made Gilligan's Island look like a 5 star resort. All the houses and faclities were made out of palm, there was no running water, and only a couple hours of electricity at night coming from a generator. The 'bathroom' consisted of a toilet with a large tub of water. After you tinkle, you fill up a smaller bucket and pour it in the toilet. The shower was next to it, and consited of a huge elevated tub of water with a pvc spicket. They did both have concrete floors.
They got my bags for me and situated my in my palm-covered hut. There were 3 beds in there with mosquito nets, a small table made out of palm wood and sand floors. I got my trunks on and headed for the beach, which was pretty much outside of the front door. Later in the day, we took a boat to another island and did some snorkeling, volleyball, and beach chilling. We headed back to our island and I took a great little hammock nap after a great shower. Some of the other people headed off to 'town' and came back with my dinner, lobster! There were two Iraelis and a Bolivian woman who were together and apparently they didn't like what was offered for dinner so they asked for some pork. They paid the money and the people from the 'resort' headed back off to town. At first, we thought it was a joke but they came back a little while later with the meat...ok it was actually a live pig!!! My canadian friend, Sophe, and I didn't care to watch them kill it so we headed to the other side of the island to watch the sunset. My dinner was amazing and we spent the rest of the night watching them try to get a fire going and cook the pig, which they strung up over the fire. This was their first time so it took quite a while but finally it was done. I couldn't help but have few bites *sorry Nikki.
The next day, I woke up, had breakfast and found a seat on the beach. I dig my chair into the sand in the water, put on my music and comensed what I like to call a little hard-core chillin. I spent most of the day there just soaking up the sun. We headed to town a little later, which was basically a shanty town where a lot of the Kona's lived. There was a basketball and soccer game going on at the basketball court but the main attraction of the day was a ceremony, similar to a quineneta, where there was some ceremonial purcessions *sp?, food, drink and lots of people. We didn't partake but was were able to see some of the goings on. It was pretty cool to see. I had my camera but didn't take any pics as I didn't want to be rude. As we walked through the town, people were very friendly and kids would come up and say hi. We headed back to the island after they picked up my crab for dinner. The israelis left and I realized that I had the whole place to myself for the night. There was another resort place next to us and one on the other side of the island but my place was just for me. Some of the locals decided to have a party on our island so a bunch of us sat around, listening to music and drinking beer.
Woke up early the next morning and took the boat back to reality. The ride back to the city after the boat, seemed longer than before but a couple hours later I got to Luna's Castle. It is a pretty large and popular hostel in the middle of a historic neighborhood. Didn't do much once I got here as I was pretty tired. I leave back to the US tomorrow so going to scope out the bus route for tomorrow and maybe do a little shopping. Enjoying my last hours in central america and trying not to think much about heading home. Until next time my friends...