“Oh shit, we’ve lost a Guna.”
“What do you mean we’ve lost a Guna? How can that even happen?”
“Well, he went skinny dipping with you guys and no one has seem him for a few hours. We only found his clothes.“
“Shit. I hope he’s ok.”
“Yeah, I’m not too worried, he’s a good swimmer, they all reckon he’s the best free diver in the village.” This from Adam, the Kiwi tour guide, who was characteristically chilled out about the whole incident.
“Everyone back in the boat!” he shouted. “It’s time to go.”
We scouted the island and the ocean on the way back to the village, shining headlamps and calling out every few seconds for the missing man. To everyone’s relief, our missing friend was asleep safe and sound in his hammock. For some reason, he had decided to swim about 1km home. In complete darkness. Naked.
The short flight from Panama City to Cartagena is ridiculously expensive, so for marginally more dinero we hopped our way through the beautiful San Blas Islands, from Panama to Colombia.
We travelled with a great group of people and the trip surpassed my expectations. This time of year is when the seas are the roughest, so the boat rides were like a roller coaster, while constantly being blasted in the face by salt water. I popped dramamine religiously, so for once I didn’t join the unfortunate souls throwing up overboard.
We even had a “wedding” (symbolic, not legal) on the island. These lovebirds had met about six weeks ago in Guatemala and had decided to take the plunge, matching outfits and all.
This wasn’t the only celebration though, there were also a number of birthdays. Two boat loads of people dubiously piled into one boat, and guided by head torches we slowly made our way to a deserted island to party. This was also the infamous night we lost the Guna.
One of the highlights for us was being able to visit the Guna villages. The indigenous Guna people living on the islands of San Blas migrated to there from the mainland after Spanish colonization. What is remarkable, is that they have been able to establish political autonomy and govern themselves. This was gained through an armed revolution in the 1920’s in response to the Panamanian government’s attempts to suppress their customs.
The Guna women are particularly beautiful, and for the most part continue to dress in their traditional fashion.
Sea drop toilet. I always looked down and never saw anything. Apparently the fish are quick.
When the tour finished, we still had two boat rides and two bus rides to get to Cartagena, but in the company of new friends, it didn’t seem so bad.