San Blas at last

Tue 20 Nov 2007 14:33
Position 08:44.21N 77:32.68W
Date: 20th November
Sorry about last week's hurried mail, and spelling mistakes etc. I was late for supper ashore, and to cap this quite usual occurrence the new outboard stopped and refused to restart just as I left the boat: a half mile row to the dock, and I arrived very sweaty. This is a BAD thing to do, especially at 6pm, just getting dark. Despite anti spray I was covered by mosquitoe bites, and spent a miserable hour in the eatery picking at myself and causing self harm!! The theory is that mosquitoes don't so much see you as smell you: feet especially. (I hope Olivia washes her trainers these days!).
I did have success with the fishing rod last week, and we had fresh tuna for a couple of nights, which is always pleasant; although the bloodbath in the cockpit is a bit wretched, and has to be cleaned up carefully, otherwise the smell lingers.
The overnight sail to the Panamanian border was really without major incident, sailing was only possible for a few hours, but this was a bonus, as the grib files were still showing adverse or no wind at all. These files are not so much help in coastal waters. For food I had Pina Colada Korma Curried bananas with cashew nuts. Must have been hungry because it tasted delicious, but then it was my reciepe!. Have also discovered Jello: American stuff, mix with cold milk. My favourite flavour is pistachio. Also blueberry muffin mix: add water, put in oven! Cordon Bleu or what!? 
Yesterday we travelled to Obaldia to clear into Panama: a frustrating and hot experience, although most poeple were very friendly. It is the pointless nature of the work itself, coupled with the slow work rate that frustrates. Anyway we are now armed with forms aplenty, and in triplicate, and have started to collect our Kuna receipts: every time you anchor in Kuna Land the Local Village Chief sends someone in a canoe to collect the fee: seems to be 10$, though the guide books said 5$: inflation everywhere!!
We only paid 5$ for the doubtful privelige of anchoring in Obaldia, but then it's really an administrative outpost from the Panamanian Government. Rolly anchorage, no dinghy dock, ugly houses, but a shop that sold most things from petrol to food and clothes. Nothing fresh however. Local fresh food doesn't seem to be distributed via shops at all. In Immigration there were two computers, but no mains electricity: all the offices had banks of 12 volt truck batteries and inverters to run the equipment: but 'our' inverter was broken! The Zarpe man relied on his trusty tyewriter, and carbon paper: wise guy, wait for the new technology to prove itself, I say. If the NHS can do without linked computers, so can Obaldia.
We got away from Obaldia in the early afternoon, and sailed to Puerto Perme: a real 'Tropical Anchorage in Paradise' at last. Palm fringed bay, completely protected, very lovely. Make you jealous if you look at google earth! Last night broke an oar, which immediatly sank. Must try to construct something serviceable this morning from my store of 'found items'. Also heavy rain overnight, so I got up and collected a bucket of rainwater, saving my watermaker, and it's energy supply! Slept well afterwards, as rainwater is the coolest thing by far around here, much much cooler than the sea.
Swam down to the keel yesterday afternoon, despite increrasing trouble with my right inner ear which is blocked. There is very little damage from the encounter with the coral a few days ago: the outer gel coat has been rubbed down in several areas, but I can feel no exposed underlying glass fibre ( which absorbs water over time), so no real problem. Loads of barnacles however!! Having paid my 10 dollars, I'm going to the local Village (Anachuguna) today as a visit is included in the ticket price: I suspect that the catch will be 'Vendors'.
Vicky has sprained her arm playing hockey, so it is good to have another ailing member of the family to trade illness behaviour stories!! I also got Olivia's first email from Oz, sounds great, and I hope things will go well for her.
Hope all is well with anyone else who reads these things, they have become my own diary now: I used to keep a seperate written log, but found that I never got round to tidying it up. So if it's not in here it didn't happen!!