With the water of a freshly machete-opened coconut dribbling through my beard, I sat alone on the white sandy shore, a cool breeze rustling the palm leaves over head. I watched the aerodynamic plunges of hungry brown pelicans as the sun lazily began to set. It was a moment I called on all my senses to record and promised myself never to forget.
I was in the San Blas archipelago, reclined on 1 of 368 pinch-yourself paradise islands located in the North-West of Panama. The vast majority of these palm tree lined islands are uninhabited with some of the larger home to the friendly and welcoming indigenous Kuna (pronounced Guna).
The night before we had anchored up by the Dutch Island (No link to the Netherlands!) and paddled ashore in a raft, 5 at a time for the most incredible dining experience of my life.
Our noses drawn to a small branch made hut, billowing smoke. Inside, the Kuna islanders were smoking up our meal; today’s catch of lobster and a barracuda I had (somehow!?) landed earlier in the day while playing cards, a fishing line prospecting overboard. Step aside Poseidon, this was my patch now…
Waiting for our food to arrive, 10 of us backpackers sat around a wooden table on the sand. Despite our International origins and language barriers we found common ground in the local drink of choice, “Coco Loco” a Colombian rum filled coconut. Some drinking games kicked off and the Kuna family pulled up some chairs and watched our antics from front row centre.
We were the stars of reality entertainment and I can’t even imagine what they thought as the night wore on.
Dinner was a hands on primal affair, chucking smoked potatoes across the table, cracking shells and greasy fingers were the order of the day. It was perfect. As a man who refused to eat anything from the sea for the first 25 years of my life, to describe this as the best meal of my life carries some weight.
After dinner and a stroll around the tiny island we gathered around a bonfire on the beach, under a million stars- it was all so perfect until someone produced a guitar.
Our days were spent Kayaking (with no actual control on our direction) around the Islands, quite literally going with the flow. On land we played some volleyball between reapplications of sun cream and took turns to ask new friends can you believe we are here?
If white sand desert islands, turquoise lapping seas and palm tree fluttering ocean breezes are your idea of a getaway paradise; the San Blas islands won’t cheat you of your vision.
This post was written by eddiesmithphoto