Aruba to Porvenir in the San Blas Islands was a difficult passage with sea condtions similar to the Bay of Biscay. Steep following seas, with waves rearing up behind Moonshadow and then miraculously, it seemed, instead of breaking over the stern, sliding under us with a jerk, throwing any unsecured objects in the air. The whole crew either were or felt seasick and it was not possible to do more than open a can of soup, for those who had the stomach to eat. We experienced 92 unpleasant hours before we were able to anchor in calm waters behind the reef in the San Blas.
The people of these islands are Kuna Indians, a self governing people with a rich culture, small in stature they are proud of their way of life. They live on islands on the raised parts of the reef. The island we visited had about 230 people living in huts with mud floors in an area about the size of half a football pitch.They fish from dugout canoes, visit the mainland to hunt wild pig in the jungle and collect fruit and building materials such as lianas for their huts. The women bring the water from the river back to the island every day in large jerry cans. Their needlework is colourful and inticate and is sold to the visitors with many smiles and much laughter. They sleep in hammocks and when they die the grave is large enough for their body to be buried swinging in a hammock.
We returned to Moonshadow after a meal of fish,rice and plantain cooked by the chief's wife and her albino son. They have many albinos who are called "moon children" and are highly valued. We all felt differently about our visit but we all commented on their strong sense of community and the apparent happiness of everyone we met.