Tuesday, April 3, 2018

YOLO Panama border to Ustupu

Colorful paintings on feathers.
We motorsailed from Cartagena, Colombia to the border of Panama.
We were boarded by the Colombian Armada three times within a few hours near the border town of Sapzurro.
 The big navy ship hailed us on the radio and told us to stop.  They wanted to board us for a routine check.
The young men came aboard and looked around and asked a few questions.
 They kept their RIB handy for their transport.
 They took pictures of everything with their phones rather than have to fill out lots of forms.
A penguin painting on a building in Sapzurro.
Just a funky stick sculpture stuck in the ground.
Nicely painted boats here.  Many are now made of fiberglass rather than trees.
A clinic here had used bottles in their walls as an artistic touch.  More photos further down.  I like the use of bottles in walls.
Creating a mosaic sidewalk to look just like the walkways in Copacabana, Brazil.

One piece of tile at a time.  Tedious work.
Steve at the lunch spot in Capurnaga, the next town over from Sapzurro.  We had to go get some paperwork signed from the Port Captain/Immigration guys there for the Armada man who last boarded us.
Karen chugging a local flavor of soda pop.
We sailed around to Puerto Obaldia, the first town in Panama.  It was a very rolly bay with big swells coming in to keep us rocking.  We had to spend the night as we didn't get completely or correctly cleared in on arrival.  We sent the captain alone for the first time, but a lack of communication meant we had to go in again.
Jason resting on the stoop of the only 'store' where we bought some rolls and Cokes in Puerto Obaldia.
Jason and Steve standing in the middle of the runway for this tiny town.
 Pretty painted conch shells holding down the tablecloths in this new beachfront bar/restaurant.
Steve and I had a cold Balboa beer while we tried out his drone camera for the first time.
Steve setting up the drone to fly.
The island of Ustupu is one of the most densely inhabited islands in the San Blas. It is at the far east end of the island archipelago and doesn't get many yachts visiting. An artist on Ustupu, we were impressed with his talent.  The scenes of women in molas and traditional life didn't really interest us as topics, but the colors were vibrant and his depictions were quite good.
 The artist, Alejandro.  He painted the feathers in the top photo of this blog, too.
 Jason helping Steve find the parts of an impeller that had disintigrated in his heat exchanger.
 They finally found all the blades of the impeller and put a new one in.
Construction of a new deck just outside the public bathrooms and shower, where we got our water on Ustupu.
 Typical Kuna dugout canoes, called ulus.
 The garbage piles up on the shores here.
The trash is so thick you can walk on it.
The trash doesn't stop the kids from playing, though.  This one was flying a little kite made from a plastic bag, while sitting in a dugout on a beach littered with garbage, much of it plastic. 
Jason admiring the trader boat, especially the topless figurehead on top.
 In a front yard of a Kuna home, these three dolls were hanging out to dry.  Cute.
 Andreas' sister was sewing this mola when we visited his family.
 Andreas, with his English-speaking father in front and his mother sitting in back.  His mother is the daughter of a very famous Kuna 'spiritualist' (political warrior and leader in the revolution) who is written up in the guide books and is buried on a small island just behind where we anchored.  His father has met four US Presidents in his lifetime.  Very few folks speak English here and Andreas asked us to come speak with his father when he heard us speaking in the local store.
 Andreas came back to the boat to see it and get his photo taken as if he was driving it.
 A pile of coconuts being protected by an old plastic tub we found floating in the water.  That's a pile of money in Kuna land.
 Karen enjoying Ustupu.  A little boy took this photo with my camera.  He was keen to see the photos on my camera.
 Karen taking a stitch in support of the Kuna Independence.  Kina was making a new flag for the celebration of 93 years of Independence. That's Barry from Gaiamar in the background, the only other yacht that came into Ustupu while we were there.
 Andreas and Kina, the flag maker.  Kina has on a necklace of jaguar teeth.
 Jason even took a stitch in support. The independence celebration Feb is a big deal here.  These men are fiercely proud that they are the only indigenous Indian tribe to obtain their freedom and independence and gain self-rule.
 Alex put his first dollar earned (and signed by Karen and Steve) in plastic for preservation.  We told him he should post it on the wall or ceiling but they felt it would just get stolen if left out in public view.
 Karen, Andreas and Steve on the dock in Ustupu.  Andreas had had a few drinks and was feeling no pain. You can only buy alcohol Fri-Sun on this island.  The Kuna don't hold their alcohol very well.
 A patchwork sail, but it moved the canoe with the wind.
 Lobster tails we got from a Kuna who approached us in a dugout canoe.  Small but tasty, but we didn't like buying the little guys.
 Fish for sale from Arequin, a Kuna in a dugout ulu who brought us bread from his home island nearly two miles away when we were anchored in Snug Harbor.
These are the 'commercial' fish for sale.....still pretty tiny...
 and these are the 'family' fish.  They eat whatever they can catch.
 An older Kuna woman in traditional dress.  The headdresses are always red and yellow.  The blue line down her nose and the gold nose ring are considered signs of beauty.  The blouse is made of two molas, one in front and one in back, with sleeves of colorful material sewn to them.  The arm and leg bands are made of colored beads.  Once a woman has gotten married, 'known' a man, and had a child, she adopts the traditional mola dress and the arm and leg bands are put on and worn for the rest of her life. They rarely allow photos of themselves to be taken; this lady wanted a dollar for taking her photo.
 The husks of coconuts outside a home in the village.
 Mormon missionary 'elders' on Ustupu.  They come for up to two years at a time and live amongst the Kuna, making converts.  They must wear long pants, shirt and tie, but they do roll up the long legs to be a bit cooler. They were friendly and were some of the few we could talk to in English about the island and its inhabitants. They were a wealth of information about the island.
 We happened by Arequin's home and he invited us in to meet his family.  His daughter here was sewing this mola with stylized iguanas on it.  I bought it.  I could now avoid future mola salespersons and I paid very little for it.  Arequin was thankful that we were helping to support his family.
 Steve with some crabs we bought for dinner.  Not much to eat in them and they just weren't worth the effort.
Back in Sapzurro, a fancy wood beach bar/restaurant surprised us.
 An egret stalking a fish in a shallow area on the island.
 A damaged fishing net becomes trash on the shore of Capurnaga.
 Bottles make up part of the walls in this building.
 Walls inside and out incorporated glass bottles into them. This is a clinic in Sapzurro.
 Cap Tiberon (Shark Cape).  What a nice curler wave out at a point near Sapzurro.
 The name of the border town between Colombia and Panama is Sapzurro.
 An old church in Sapzurro.
 The men gather along the seafront to repair their fishing nets.
 Outboard motor repair seems to be done by group consensus on the street, too.
 At the far end of the town, this scene reminded me of an English garden.
 Steve's first attempt to lift his dinghy for night storage.  It's important to fit a lifting bridle properly ahead of time so the dinghy doesn't look so stupid.
 The huge anchor chain links form the stand for the menu at this hamburger joint where we ate lunch.
 Across the road we could've had a 'sandwish'.
 A sidewalk in the border town.
 Typical housing here.
 Outdoor cooking certainly takes its toll on the pots and pans.  This was the army post outdoor kitchen.
A Colombian trader boat at the dock in Ustupu.
 The waterfront homes on Ustupu.  The bits that stick out over the water are the outhouses.  No plumbing here.  Travel is by dugout with a paddle or sail.
 The locals bring their coconuts to the trader boats to sell.  Coconuts are their currency here and every one belongs to someone.  You must never take a coconut without paying for it.  Going rate is $1/coconut, but I think the Colombians buy them for 4/$1, and they only accept them if they can still hear the liquid sloshing inside.
 The outhouses along the shore.
 Paddling across the water builds the muscles in these guys.
 The tall, moldy green structure is the water tower for the town.
 Rips and holes in a sail don't make it unusable here.  Every day the men head across to the mainland to tend their crop of bananas or coconuts.
 A simple sailing ulu crosses in front of the trader boat, loaded with bags of coconuts.
 A sign outside a hut that has the numbers in signs, as well as letters in the local language.
 Canoes parked along the shore.  They are like your car to you.  The sticks keep it from washing side to side when waves come in.  They pull them up over the logs to keep them from slipping back into the water when the tide comes in.
 More canoes along the water.
 Each canoe is unique.
 Just cruising under the bridge and into an inner lagoon.
 Little kids still play marbles in the dirt streets here.
 This part of a road is actually a series of filled bags of concrete that have hardened in place.
 A Portuguese Man-O-War, dangling by the dock in Ustupu.  The pink bubble sail and the purple tentacles make it a pretty, but dangerous jellyfish.
 The back of a Kuna woman's mola outfit.
 Alex paints these gorgeous scenes on feathers.  He has them taped to a piece of cardboard to be sent to Panama City to sell.
 Steve in Alex's new 'bar' that he just opened behind his house.  Steve and I were his very first customers ever!
Alex, Karen, and Andreas with the first dollar earned in Alex's new 'bar' behind his home.
 Boys hamming it up on the dock in Ustupu.
 Karen, a drunk Andreas, and Steve on dock in Ustupu.
 Typical beach growth, mangroves, mangoes and palms
 This house on Ustupu looks like it could be in danger if a big wind blows.

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