Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rio Diablo: An Abundance of Fresh Water

The summer season in the San Blas Islands has started, more than a month too early. It means: no wind, massive storms with lots of rain, bugs near the mangrove islands and … no more sailing. Even in the anchorages, whatever breeze might be present is often overpowered by the current, which in turn decides how the boats are positioned; not into the “wind”. This phenomenon causes sweaty nights, followed by another hot and humid day. Our found paradise is lost and we hope it will return one day. Maybe in six months? Maybe in eight. The good news is that Mark and I don’t have to worry about our freshwater supply anymore. No more trips to Rio Azucar to buy drinking water and no more visits to crappy wells for shower water. We are home free and could even splurge with a pressurized shower on deck, if we choose so!

Collecting water not only means there’s enough to drink and cook, but also to keep up with the dirty laundry. Most of that is now done on Irie by hand. Except for a few specialty items… Mark and I have been “looking forward” to another visit up the magnificent Rio Diablo river to wash the cushion covers of our dinette area. The thought of an unending supply of wash and rinse water urged us upriver while back in Nargana, Kuna Yala’s biggest “city”. Daily, many Kuna men row up the river in their dugout canoes to fetch a week’s worth of water. It is a never ending scene: paddlers going upriver with empty buckets and barrels along the banks where there is less “flow” and returning with almost submerging ulus, in the middle of the river, where the water pushes them back towards the mouth and their house.

Just like the last time we did this trip by dinghy, Mark and I thoroughly enjoyed the green scenery and waved to every Indian we passed. Once we reached the best laundry spot, we went to work for a few hours on one of the nicer, sunnier days. When the sweat started coming, we just made a few steps towards the middle of the river and had a refreshing dunk. We finished the chore with a long, fresh (!) water shower and returned home to have the hot sun finish up the laundry task we had started. By nightfall, we had “shiny” 13 year old cushion covers again. Guests to Irie will now not only have to wipe their feet when they enter, but also their bums! :-)

From Irie we see Kuna men come and go to fetch water upriver.

The river entrance is a bit tricky and shallow.

Time for some long planned laundry in the Rio Diablo.

Kuna woman filling barrels with water; a heavy chore, mostly done by men.

This Kuna is poling his way through the shallows to get to the fresh water "source".


Anonymous said...

Great post! If you could share a bit about your water collection system many of your readers could be enlightened...myself included!!!

Liesbet said...

Good idea! I am planning on writing a "serious" article about this subject one day, but I will post a short blog about our water collection systems in the near future!