05 February, 2011

Problems In Paradise

Position: N 09 35.059 W 078 41.092
Location: Naguarchirdup, Lemmon Cays, San Blas, Panama

We've been here for two weeks now, and have really been loving it. It's a tropical paradise. The wind has been mostly North or Northeast in the 10-20 knot range. Since we're behind a barrier reef most of the time, we've been doing a lot of easy, fun sailing in relatively calm water - a sailor's dream come true!

Downwind sailing
Life here is not all fun and games, however - we have problems to deal with, too. Some examples:

After you hook that 28 inch king mackerel you not only have to land it, you also have to fillet it, skin it, and then clean up the mess!! Sheesh!
Same with the giant crabs you buy down here for $3 each. They need to be cooked and cleaned. Then you still have to actually make the crab cakes and bisques and other yummy treats.

Most nights it rains around 3 am. This means you have to reach up and close the forward hatch, or the bed gets wet. Then, as soon as you close the hatch, it quits raining.
Every couple of weeks you have to do laundry. There is no laundromat so you have to do it by hand. Since you wear so few clothes down here this usually consists of a couple of pairs of shorts, a few tee shirts, and a couple of towels. Then you have to hang it all from the rigging to dry. And don't forget to take it back down before the 3am rain!
There's no curbside trash pickup here in paradise. When the trash builds up, you take it in to a beach on one of the islands and burn it, usually in conjunction with other cruisers, also usually involving beers and swimming. The actual trash burning takes less than an hour, but the "chore" usually requires at least a few hours of your time.

We give aluminum cans to the locals for recycling. But there are no facilities around that can handle glass bottle disposal. Because of this, you're unable to simply enjoy a wonderful sail. Whenever you're in deep water you have to haul up buckets of seawater and fill any empty bottles and non-aluminum cans with it so they will sink to the bottom when you drop them over the side.

There are very few grocery stores in the San Blas, so shopping here can be a real challenge, too. You have to sit on the boat all day reading, waiting for the veggie boat to come by. Then you have to decide which vegetables, fruit, fresh chicken, eggs, wine, beer, and other stuff you want.

Local dugout canoes called "ulus" come by all the time, too, with molas, limes, bananas, pineapples, fresh fish, lobster, crab, and other delicacies like octopus. Same thing - you have to pick what you want and lift it into the boat. Then you have to pay for it!
Out of over 300 islands there are only two that have Internet access. The one we have been to is a small bar and restaurant with three network cables connected to a painfully slow satellite system for $3 / hour. Going in to use the Internet usually involves having to consume more beers while waiting for an open cable. Once you have a connection, you then have the privilege of waiting most of the first hour for your email to download. The next hour is spent waiting for the online banking pages to load. More beer required. It seems like a pretty good business model. Sorry still no pictures on the blog yet - this connection is w a y t o o s l o w f o r t h a t.

As you can imagine, we've been very busy dealing with all these problems. But no need to feel sorry for us. We've also been working hard to keep our spirits up despite them. We walk around sandy palm tree covered islands almost every day.

We snorkel on reefs full of colorful fish and coral almost every day. We do happy hours on shore or on various friend's boats nearly every night. We read, talk, and nap.
Reunion with friends from the Bahamas - Better Days and Osprey

It's a tough row to hoe, but it's working - we're still happy.

Livin' the god life.....