Sunny in San Blas

Tuesday, April 08, 2014
San Blas Island, Guna Yala, Panama
My friend Thomas told me that visiting San Blas Island was one of the best things he has ever done and told me I should go. And I did. Yesterday was my day on Iguana Island of the San Blas Islands. These islands (325) are inhabited by the Kuna tribe and are completely independent of Panamanian government. There was no wi-fi or phone reception, so I knew I would not be posting to Facebook or checking email. haha

I checked out of my room and waited outside to be picked up by LAM tours . Once I was picked up, I was taken to their offices, paid my fees, given a wristband and went to the nearby grocery store for a few waters and snacks. LAM is one of the oldest places to offer tours to San Blas. You pretty much have to work through a tour agency to go. Seven of us were then scrunched in a 4 x 4 jeep to the port of Carti. We had to bring our passports, as they were checked before we got to the port. Next to me in the jeep was a nice couple from Venezuela, who also confirmed how dangerous it is there right now. After arriving in Carti, I was matched up with two men and another couple also going to Iguana Island. There are several islands to choose, but I chose Iguana because it looked quiet and tranquil and not "Party Central" like some of the others. Hanging with a bunch of 20-somethings backpacking would not be my cup of tea.  

We got in the small, rickety boat and made our way to the island. We had to stop at another island for gasoline. Nina and George were from Barcelona, and we were marveling at how crazy all of this felt . As we approached our little island in the middle of the Caribbean, we were in awe. White sand, palm trees, turquoise water....the stuff you see and hear about, and we were here.  

We gathered our things (I only brought my small day bag with a towel, extra shirt and a few toiletries), climbed off the boat and "checked in" with the son whose dad "owns" the island. I chose a dorm room with several beds, but luckily I was the only one staying there. Apparently, 7 people live on the island, and they usually don't see many Americans. It was the size of two football fields, more or less, and absolutely stunning.  

Once I checked into my hut, I strolled the island and took a dip. The fee includes your meals, so Nina, George and I were called to lunch with a conch shell. That was pretty cool. We had chicken, rice and salad. The island has a small snack shop where you can purchase water, beer and soda. After lunch, I took a siesta (same as Nina and George) and swam some more . The sun was strong, so I stayed in the shade and made my swims pretty short. Another Spanish couple came to the island, so that made 5 visitors total. There was two "bathrooms" with actual toilets and 2 showers. When I did use a bathroom, I noticed some tiny iguanas on the wall, which quite frankly, scared the crap out of me.  

Last night during dinner, one of the members climbed up a palm tree to shake down some coconuts. Like, he climbed the tree. The only time I saw someone do that was on Sesame Street many years ago, and now I got to see it in person. Unfortunately, my camera was in my room. We had fresh fish for dinner, with mashed plantains and more salad.  

During the night, all I could hear was the wind and waves lapping up against the shore. It was really peaceful and surreal. This morning, I combed the beach for shells and took a "bath" in the Caribbean. At 9 am, the same boat came for me, I climbed aboard, and we headed back to Carti and then back to Panama City. This afternoon I again stayed with Monica and David. I went to an Italian place for an early dinner, shopped for some souvenirs and did a load of laundry, I have some bites on my ankles and really do not want to know what might have been crawling on me as I was sleeping or anytime I was there. But, the bites were worth it. I would totally go back to Iguana if I ever want to truly "get away."Thomas was right.I wish I could've stayed a few more days. What a great place to unwind ! 

Tomorrow I head to Colombia and hopefully my bus ride to VIlla de Levya goes smoothly.  
Hasta luego!




joe feliciano

that looks like heaven on earth. and i remember that sesame street episode!

Scott Bader
2014-04-11 that Hawaii? :) Where are all the v-ball courts? How are you going to get in any pickup games? :) Looks like a beautiful island!