Wednesday, May 2, 2012

“Negatives” about the San Blas Islands

A few weeks ago, a reader of my blog posted a rather “negative” comment to my “Why We Don’t Like Curacao” (December 2011) entry. She pointed out that I shouldn’t be so negative when I write and that I should move on when something disappointing or bad happens and not let “the whole world” read about those less than wonderful experiences and thoughts. Ha! Since this is my blog and I like to share the good and the bad and put things in perspective, instead of always raving about all things awesome, turning my life into an unrealistic tourism brochure, I don’t agree with her. So… here are some of the less nice or less appealing things about the San Blas islands. Just to keep the “perfect paradise” seekers at bay. After my last few blog entries (and the next), one might think Kuna Yala is paradise, and that all I write about are positive things! :-)

As I started writing about the different San Blas characteristics that might put people off from visiting with their boat or make them think twice, my blog became longer and longer up to the point where it was no longer a blog, but more like an article. It will be published in the Caribbean Compass magazine later this year. Just to give a little insight, the topics mentioned are: the difficulty to navigate reefs, dangerous lightning bolts and storms - like the one last week, and like the one that hit our friends Michele and Mark’s home last year. They were out of commission (read: stuck in a marina in Panama for repairs) for five months! - annoying biting insects (no-see-ums), the inconveniences of being here in regards to food and necessities, the cost for permits, the tricky anchorages, the many mola vendors, the lack of social activities and going out scene, the crowdedness of certain areas, and the difficulty of communication with the outside world. And, I didn’t even mention the stubborn sharks hanging around our boats and fishing grounds!

Of course, the positives in the San Blas islands surpass the negatives by a lot; otherwise, Mark and I would not be here for so long! More about that in future blogs…

Pretty beaches are not so attractive anymore when you are eaten alive by no-see-ums

Charging the cell phone of a Kuna Indian on Irie

Kuna Yala congreso members collect the fees for being in their territory


Pieter Kommerij said...

Hi Liesbet and Mark,

Indeed, it is your blog so you write what you want... I think we all (sometimes) kind of fall into the same trap: the mega vast majority of people live on land, and there is just a few of us that dont. So we are kind of outcast, nomads of the sea and all of that... We tend to only tell the real good stuff: the sunsets, the friends, the drinks, the dives, fair winds and waves, maybe to avoid the critics and comments from land: "I told you so, this was going to happen..".... and, "nobody ordered you to live on a boat" you choose and these are the consequences...and more of amongst those same lines.. you catch my drift..I guess, once you live on a boat, we all get those suck moments (related to energy (lack of), mechanics and/or hydraulics), insects indeed, burocracy, the weather.. all of this or a mixture can be at sometimes very challenging.. On the bright side: i then remember the hours i sort of lost in Sao Paulo traffic, the noise in the apartement building, the stench of the city...With that in mind, finding our way in new ports and anchorages, fighting of bugs... it is worth it, very much so... Take care, fair winds

Liesbet said...

Hello Pieter,

Thanks for your input! At least my cruising peers know what I am talking about... :-)

I think we want to keep telling all the great and beautiful stuff to keep convincing ourselves that we love the life we chose! And, most of the time, we still enjoy life on the water. I just don't like the fact that people living on land think that we are "fortunate" (it isn't luck, it's a choice) or that we are always enjoying ourselves in paradise. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way or more people would do it. When we're honest, of course, we would rather suffer from the heat and the bugs than being part of a routine in the "normal" world. Most of the time... :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Irie,

I came across your blog while doing research on the San Blas Islands.

I visited the islands last spring and was saddened by what I saw. I discussed this with my island mates, one of which had visited the islands the year before.

I want to write a story on the dilemma between the Kuna Yala people wanting to preserve their culture, but giving into the temptation of tourist money (which is understandable). My islandmates and I discussed the excess trash around the islands and witnessed one woman burning plastic bottles.

If you would be willing to speak with me more about this as well as sailing, I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you,


Liesbet said...

Hello Kaitlin,

Sure, no problem. I'd love to contribute to your article, by sharing some thoughts and experiences about Kuna Yala. Just send me a private email. The address is mentioned in the right column of our blog,a bit down.

I'm curious about what you mean with "your island mates"... :-)

Hoping to hear from you soon,

PS: On the islands, burning garbage is about the only way to "dispose" of it. Many Kunas in the villages just throw their (plastic) garbage in the water!