Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!

February 11th, 2016 the sail to Puerto Perme did not start out very good as the winds were blowing from the north, on the nose and the sea was confused…We had to tack into the wind and this proved to be more difficult than expected. We did not manage to move forward so that the coast guard from Sapzurro came to make sure we were not in trouble. We reassured them that we were OK and confirmed we were sailing to Panama over the radio. Once we were out of the zone with the confused seas we were fine although the waves were still high and the skies were grey. After 6 hours of sailing we were happy to arrive at Puerto Perme with a bit of blue skies. There was a Columbian supply boat already there and they were all amazed we arrived with this “mal tiempo”. We did not think it was that bad, but nevertheless were happy to anchor safely in the bay.

Guna Yala territory. We started all the way on the bottom of the map and sailed over a period of 2 weeks to Porvenir at the top of the map, which is about 100 miles.

The Guna Yala is an indigenous province in northeast Panama and is home to the Gunas (Indians). The capital of the province is Porvenir. An archipelago of 365 islands is around the coast, of which 36 are inhabited. They say, an island for each day of the year.

Guna Yala flag.
The Revolution Flag from 1925 during which the Guna Indians fought the ruling Panamanian authorities, whom were attempting to force the Indians to adopt Hispanic culture by military action. During this revolution the Guna Yala territory seceded and operated as the short-lived Republic of Tule. Following mediation by the United States the Guna re-united with Panama. The Gunas with the support of the Panamanian government, created an autonomous territory called the Guna Yala district which they would rule themselves.
The Gunas at the supply boat where they can get vegetables but also order chairs etc. from the mainland. This boat came from Columbia but there are also boats from Panama.
A Guna family which came to visit on the boat. Unfortunately the girl did not wear their typical dress. They came to sell bananas, coconut and a bracelet.

Typical Ulu, dug-out boat. The Gunas go everywhere with these in any weather !
Collecting a 10 USD anchor fee. They first wanted 20 USD but during our visit of the village they had said 10 USD so we refused to pay the 20 USD. Stefan made good by giving fishing line and a hook. The women do not like to have their picture taken but here the man wanted the picture…The woman is wearing the typical mola (blouse) and a red scarf on their head. They have beads around their wrists and ankles.
The streets in a typical Guna village. A lot of the houses have small solar panels (see in the back of the picture)
Happy and proud with his homemade kite.
Typical street in the Guna village.
The villages were always clean and built with respect for nature.
A lot of the Guna indians will have to move to the main land if the water level continues to rise. There are already moving plans for some islands.
As a visitor you are not allowed to take any coconut as they all belong to someone. Even the ones on the ground cannot be taken.
Gunas are very curious and when you arrive with your boat they always paddle their ulus to come and see.
A Guna with plantains.
Not always all happy faces. Big sister taking care of the little ones.
A luxury toilet in stone instead of in wood, on isla Tigre.
More typical village streets.
Life is good in the Guna village. Definitely no stress here!
A Guna flag and a revolutionary flag (with the swastika).
The molas, form part of the traditional outfit of a Guna woman, two mola panels being incorporated as front and back panels in a blouse. In the Guna’s native language, “mola” means “shirt” or “clothing”. The mola originated with the tradition of Guna women painting their bodies with geometrical designs, using available natural colours; in later years these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panamá. The price for a mola ranges from 10 USD to 60 USD.
The full costume traditionally includes a patterned wrapped skirt (saburet), a red and yellow headscarf (musue), arm and leg beads (wini), a gold nose ring (olasu) and earrings in addition to the mola blouse
Not all islands are inhabited. Although even on this small island, Corgidup, there was one hut ! Dup means island in Guna language.
When we arrived in the Hollandes Cays the sun was finally out and the colours of blue were just incredible. Far away you can see the waves breaking on the reef. We anchored in crystal clear water !
The Coco Banderas.
With Cathi and Bill from Calgary, Canada enjoying a meal on the beach of Barbecue island (Morodup). We sailed together till Hollandes Cays and met them briefly in Shelter Bay Marina. They will have sailed around the world when they reach Calgary in July. They are now headed for Galapagos and Hawai. They had such great stories !
Stefan with his Code Zero sail. So great when there is not a lot of wind. Hope to have more pictures when we sail the Pacific !
Ready to check-in at Porvenir with all the boat documents, passports and cash dollars. For 2 people and a boat, 500 USD. We had to help out some french who thought they would be able to pay with Euros or credit card but only dollars are accepted in cash. Luckily we had enough USD left to change to EUR.

IMG_2002 I really enjoyed the Guna Yala although I missed the blue skies from Colombia. It was very difficult to take pictures from the women in traditional dress as mostly they do not want you to take any pictures. Some will ask 5 USD to have their picture taken. I wonder if the Guna Indians will be able to keep to their strict traditions with more and more tourists visiting these villages. It is such a fine balance to profit from the tourist money but also to keep the youth interested in this remote life. The sailing was not always easy but we learned a lot about navigation through reefs which will help in French Polynesia.

We visited the following villages : Anchucunda, Carreto, Suledup, Mulatupu, Ustupu, Bahia de Gollondria (Alligandi), Niad, Isla Tigre, Tiadup, Hollandes Cays, Corgidup and Isla Porvenir. Next stop is Portobelo.