May 19. Exploring an island with one palmtree on it.

Today, we will have lunch on the Kuna island again. We will have the same menu as yesterday, and – if we would have been Kunas – as everyday. But we are no Kunas. Tomorrow we will have lunch in an American foodcourt eating french fries and hamburgers. Tomorrow the Kuna will eat fried fish, coconut rice and potatoes.

Yesterday we discovered this island with only one palmtree on it, and decided to go there. After making absolutely sure it was no hallucination, Dan, Karina and I took the dinghy and rowed up to the tiny isle. One single palmtree, standing firmly in the middle of the island, surrounded by sparse grasses… one single palmtree – it’s amazing. It’s unique (fortunately it was the only one-palmtree-island we’ve seen) and it makes us feel good. One single palmtree – I feel like my philosophical Self is coming back. That singleton right there in the center of the universe it is defining by its very act of existing, that unique object it is defining a multitude of perspectives. Any given location in the universe of one-palmtree-island is distinguishable from any other location exactly through the viewpoint it has with respect to the single palm tree. The palm tree shows a different side to any location on the island. Every location has its own single palmtree. There are uncountably many palmtrees on the island. Everywhere you look you see a different palmtree. You must get mad when you live here, seeing all those different palmtrees every day. In fact, if we’d let a typical human being inhabit the one-palmtree-island, he will most probably – cut down the palmtree.

Rowing back, Dan sees something very big moving in the water. We take brave Karina, who is swimming while we row and chatter, we take her back in the boat and row to shore fast. It could have been a shark. We heard stories. A guy in Panama will tell us that he went snorkeling on the San Blas islands and saw a hammerhead shark at some three meters distance. He had been extremely lucky, according to his captain. He could have been torn apart and eaten for lunch. After all, just like us, hammerhead sharks love some variation of nutrients.

It’s a mellow afternoon. DJ basks in his brilliant Britishness playing cricket with small coconut sprouts I throw towards him and a palm branch. I talk about math with Karina who is going to study it. I try to build a makeshift raft but fail dramatically at it. It falls apart before it even floats. Doesn’t matter. We sail to another Kuna island where Fabien takes care of the immigration. We will sail overnight to Portobello, Panama. I skip dinner to avoid seasickness and retreat in my berth for the final night at sea.

May 19. Exploring an island with one palmtree on it.

Today, we will have lunch on the Kuna island again. We will have the same menu as yesterday, and – if we would have been Kunas – as everyday. But we are no Kunas. Tomorrow we will have lunch in an American foodcourt eating french fries and hamburgers. Tomorrow the Kuna will eat fried fish, coconut rice and potatoes.

Yesterday we discovered this island with only one palmtree on it, and decided to go there. After making absolutely sure it was no hallucination, Dan, Karina and I took the dinghy and rowed up to the tiny isle. One single palmtree, standing firmly in the middle of the island, surrounded by sparse grasses… one single palmtree – it’s amazing. It’s unique (fortunately it was the only one-palmtree-island we’ve seen) and it makes us feel good. One single palmtree – I feel like my philosophical Self is coming back. That singleton right there in the center of the universe it is defining by its very act of existing, that unique object it is defining a multitude of perspectives. Any given location in the universe of one-palmtree-island is distinguishable from any other location exactly through the viewpoint it has with respect to the single palm tree. The palm tree shows a different side to any location on the island. Every location has its own single palmtree. There are uncountably many palmtrees on the island. Everywhere you look you see a different palmtree. You must get mad when you live here, seeing all those different palmtrees every day. In fact, if we’d let a typical human being inhabit the one-palmtree-island, he will most probably – cut down the palmtree.

Rowing back, Dan sees something very big moving in the water. We take brave Karina, who is swimming while we row and chatter, we take her back in the boat and row to shore fast. It could have been a shark. We heard stories. A guy in Panama will tell us that he went snorkeling on the San Blas islands and saw a hammerhead shark at some three meters distance. He had been extremely lucky, according to his captain. He could have been torn apart and eaten for lunch. After all, just like us, hammerhead sharks love some variation of nutrients.

It’s a mellow afternoon. DJ basks in his brilliant Britishness playing cricket with small coconut sprouts I throw towards him and a palm branch. I talk about math with Karina who is going to study it. I try to build a makeshift raft but fail dramatically at it. It falls apart before it even floats. Doesn’t matter. We sail to another Kuna island where Fabien takes care of the immigration. We will sail overnight to Portobello, Panama. I skip dinner to avoid seasickness and retreat in my berth for the final night at sea.

May 19. Exploring an island with one palmtree on it.

Today, we will have lunch on the Kuna island again. We will have the same menu as yesterday, and – if we would have been Kunas – as everyday. But we are no Kunas. Tomorrow we will have lunch in an American foodcourt eating french fries and hamburgers. Tomorrow the Kuna will eat fried fish, coconut rice and potatoes.

Yesterday we discovered this island with only one palmtree on it, and decided to go there. After making absolutely sure it was no hallucination, Dan, Karina and I took the dinghy and rowed up to the tiny isle. One single palmtree, standing firmly in the middle of the island, surrounded by sparse grasses… one single palmtree – it’s amazing. It’s unique (fortunately it was the only one-palmtree-island we’ve seen) and it makes us feel good. One single palmtree – I feel like my philosophical Self is coming back. That singleton right there in the center of the universe it is defining by its very act of existing, that unique object it is defining a multitude of perspectives. Any given location in the universe of one-palmtree-island is distinguishable from any other location exactly through the viewpoint it has with respect to the single palm tree. The palm tree shows a different side to any location on the island. Every location has its own single palmtree. There are uncountably many palmtrees on the island. Everywhere you look you see a different palmtree. You must get mad when you live here, seeing all those different palmtrees every day. In fact, if we’d let a typical human being inhabit the one-palmtree-island, he will most probably – cut down the palmtree.

Rowing back, Dan sees something very big moving in the water. We take brave Karina, who is swimming while we row and chatter, we take her back in the boat and row to shore fast. It could have been a shark. We heard stories. A guy in Panama will tell us that he went snorkeling on the San Blas islands and saw a hammerhead shark at some three meters distance. He had been extremely lucky, according to his captain. He could have been torn apart and eaten for lunch. After all, just like us, hammerhead sharks love some variation of nutrients.

It’s a mellow afternoon. DJ basks in his brilliant Britishness playing cricket with small coconut sprouts I throw towards him and a palm branch. I talk about math with Karina who is going to study it. I try to build a makeshift raft but fail dramatically at it. It falls apart before it even floats. Doesn’t matter. We sail to another Kuna island where Fabien takes care of the immigration. We will sail overnight to Portobello, Panama. I skip dinner to avoid seasickness and retreat in my berth for the final night at sea.

May 17. Of huts and coconuts.

We get up with the sunrise and row back to the Koala. It’s only 8am when we have some breakfast and sail for some ten minutes to another island we readily agree to call “Monkey Island 2”. This time, we start building shelters. DJ swiftly erects some fragile structure with palmleaves and a flagpole with his t-shirt, making him the official emperor of the island. I start digging some holes in the sand because I have bigger plans. It is my German part – pardon me – that plays up and wants to throw DJ off the trone by building a larger Speerian monumental dome. Two thick treetrunks, a connecting stick and an array of interwoven palmleaves as a skewed wall – that’s all. The German engineer läßt grüßen. Jawohl. The structure I have created is inmediately dubbed “prison” for its ruggedness. I slam my feet together in jest and lift my arm just like a saluting teuton soldier. Should we destroy it afterwards as a sign of courtesy towards the next visitors, since they deserve to “discover” the same pristine pureness as we did.

In the afternoon, we move on. I steer the boat for a little while, which is harder than it seems. We have to go straight west, 270 degrees, exactly towards the sun to reach the archipelago’s westernmost island where we do immigration tomorrow. Fabien, our captain, tells us he once sailed manually from Curaçao, where he had bought the Koala, all the way back to Cartagena because the autopilot belt was broken. It’s a tough job. But our captain is a tough sailor. He has done three Atlantic crossings, one of which solo, which is not a bad track record.

We anchor in front of an island with huts on it and antennas on the rooftops. A Kuna with picks us up with his canoe, and we can look around their little town. A Colombian fisher boat from Cartagena has docked to load coconuts, the main source of Kuna sustainance.
It is our money they like the most of us. The streets are full of vendors praising their embroidery. Others are asking a dollar (the official currency in Panama) for a photograph. But I’m not a sack of money, not this time. I enter the island with empty pockets and speak to a man with a boat and an “Orlando pirate” cap. He tells me something about his village. 600 People live here, more ore less traditionally. Their canoes are built only recently (some 15 years ago) and the outboard engines that are mounted on their wooden sterns are a sign of pragmatism, not a disloyalty to their traditional culture.
Some kids are playing basketball and I wouldn’t have been me if I wouldn’t have joined them. So I dribble barefoot away between those smiling kids and place some shots in the basket. One kid has an excellent throw and manages to put the ball in from the side, several times. Will he play for the Panamenian national team, one day? Would that be possible? I don’t know how Panamenian the Kuna indians feel. I know they have a remarkably high grade of independence for a tribe. They are in charge of their own islands. American and French entrepreneurs have tried to buy some islands to exploit them golfcourtwise, but failed. It gives us all a good feeling. Paradise is protected by irrevocable jurisdiction here.

May 17. Of huts and coconuts.

We get up with the sunrise and row back to the Koala. It’s only 8am when we have some breakfast and sail for some ten minutes to another island we readily agree to call “Monkey Island 2”. This time, we start building shelters. DJ swiftly erects some fragile structure with palmleaves and a flagpole with his t-shirt, making him the official emperor of the island. I start digging some holes in the sand because I have bigger plans. It is my German part – pardon me – that plays up and wants to throw DJ off the trone by building a larger Speerian monumental dome. Two thick treetrunks, a connecting stick and an array of interwoven palmleaves as a skewed wall – that’s all. The German engineer läßt grüßen. Jawohl. The structure I have created is inmediately dubbed “prison” for its ruggedness. I slam my feet together in jest and lift my arm just like a saluting teuton soldier. Should we destroy it afterwards as a sign of courtesy towards the next visitors, since they deserve to “discover” the same pristine pureness as we did.

In the afternoon, we move on. I steer the boat for a little while, which is harder than it seems. We have to go straight west, 270 degrees, exactly towards the sun to reach the archipelago’s westernmost island where we do immigration tomorrow. Fabien, our captain, tells us he once sailed manually from Curaçao, where he had bought the Koala, all the way back to Cartagena because the autopilot belt was broken. It’s a tough job. But our captain is a tough sailor. He has done three Atlantic crossings, one of which solo, which is not a bad track record.

We anchor in front of an island with huts on it and antennas on the rooftops. A Kuna with picks us up with his canoe, and we can look around their little town. A Colombian fisher boat from Cartagena has docked to load coconuts, the main source of Kuna sustainance.
It is our money they like the most of us. The streets are full of vendors praising their embroidery. Others are asking a dollar (the official currency in Panama) for a photograph. But I’m not a sack of money, not this time. I enter the island with empty pockets and speak to a man with a boat and an “Orlando pirate” cap. He tells me something about his village. 600 People live here, more ore less traditionally. Their canoes are built only recently (some 15 years ago) and the outboard engines that are mounted on their wooden sterns are a sign of pragmatism, not a disloyalty to their traditional culture.
Some kids are playing basketball and I wouldn’t have been me if I wouldn’t have joined them. So I dribble barefoot away between those smiling kids and place some shots in the basket. One kid has an excellent throw and manages to put the ball in from the side, several times. Will he play for the Panamenian national team, one day? Would that be possible? I don’t know how Panamenian the Kuna indians feel. I know they have a remarkably high grade of independence for a tribe. They are in charge of their own islands. American and French entrepreneurs have tried to buy some islands to exploit them golfcourtwise, but failed. It gives us all a good feeling. Paradise is protected by irrevocable jurisdiction here.

May 17. Of huts and coconuts.

We get up with the sunrise and row back to the Koala. It’s only 8am when we have some breakfast and sail for some ten minutes to another island we readily agree to call “Monkey Island 2”. This time, we start building shelters. DJ swiftly erects some fragile structure with palmleaves and a flagpole with his t-shirt, making him the official emperor of the island. I start digging some holes in the sand because I have bigger plans. It is my German part – pardon me – that plays up and wants to throw DJ off the trone by building a larger Speerian monumental dome. Two thick treetrunks, a connecting stick and an array of interwoven palmleaves as a skewed wall – that’s all. The German engineer läßt grüßen. Jawohl. The structure I have created is inmediately dubbed “prison” for its ruggedness. I slam my feet together in jest and lift my arm just like a saluting teuton soldier. Should we destroy it afterwards as a sign of courtesy towards the next visitors, since they deserve to “discover” the same pristine pureness as we did.

In the afternoon, we move on. I steer the boat for a little while, which is harder than it seems. We have to go straight west, 270 degrees, exactly towards the sun to reach the archipelago’s westernmost island where we do immigration tomorrow. Fabien, our captain, tells us he once sailed manually from Curaçao, where he had bought the Koala, all the way back to Cartagena because the autopilot belt was broken. It’s a tough job. But our captain is a tough sailor. He has done three Atlantic crossings, one of which solo, which is not a bad track record.

We anchor in front of an island with huts on it and antennas on the rooftops. A Kuna with picks us up with his canoe, and we can look around their little town. A Colombian fisher boat from Cartagena has docked to load coconuts, the main source of Kuna sustainance.
It is our money they like the most of us. The streets are full of vendors praising their embroidery. Others are asking a dollar (the official currency in Panama) for a photograph. But I’m not a sack of money, not this time. I enter the island with empty pockets and speak to a man with a boat and an “Orlando pirate” cap. He tells me something about his village. 600 People live here, more ore less traditionally. Their canoes are built only recently (some 15 years ago) and the outboard engines that are mounted on their wooden sterns are a sign of pragmatism, not a disloyalty to their traditional culture.
Some kids are playing basketball and I wouldn’t have been me if I wouldn’t have joined them. So I dribble barefoot away between those smiling kids and place some shots in the basket. One kid has an excellent throw and manages to put the ball in from the side, several times. Will he play for the Panamenian national team, one day? Would that be possible? I don’t know how Panamenian the Kuna indians feel. I know they have a remarkably high grade of independence for a tribe. They are in charge of their own islands. American and French entrepreneurs have tried to buy some islands to exploit them golfcourtwise, but failed. It gives us all a good feeling. Paradise is protected by irrevocable jurisdiction here.

May 16. San Blas, Narcisso, and Monkey Island.

Big red starfish, the pristine beaches of small deserted islands surrounded by turqoise water, rippling like millions of natural mirrors. It’s so beautiful here! We arrive in the San Blas archipelago. Fabien anchors next to a large catamaran, close to a fairy tale palmtree island. We can dive in the water now, and explore the island. Hundreds of little fish shoot away in small coral dungeons when I wade to one of the islands. The feel of land under my feet comforts me, and I walk along the beach to inspect our first island. Unfortunately it is polluted with bottles, plastic, slippers. We couldn’t see that from the boat. The island is not cleaned up because it is under Kuna supervision, I learn a little later. As opposed to the yachtsmen, who oversee some islands too, the Kuna don’t care about the presence of waste from our technological culture.
This first island is uninhabited. My instinct call for something to do and I put some effort in the opening of a coconut, slamming it against sharp stones to no avail. My instinct gives up easily and decides to explore another island. This one has some thatched huts on it so I’m prepared to meet the first indigenous Kuna. On the second island I walk the beach until I’ve almost gone full circle when I see a man. A normal man in western clothes and a baseball cap, hanging out in a small hut. He cleans up the riff and offers me a smoked fish I eat right away. The Kuna shows me a pile of dehusked coconuts they export to Colombia. When I tell him I’m with a group he gets me another fish. With the second fish and some avocados in a bag I swim back to the boat. The smoked fish has to be kept dry, so swimming it back is not an easy task, but I gloriously succeed. My friends taste the smoked fish too and praise me for my herculean accomplishment. The Kuna man’s name is Narcisso, by the way.

I spend the afternoon on the boat reading.

In total darkness we row to yet another island, that we agree to call “Monkey Island”, we light a small campfire with dry wood we gather on another island, and share many Cuba libres with a hint of lime and DJ’s delicious apple shisha. This is, we all do agree on that, perfection in its purest form. We do some more rounds of rum, put some more hot coal on the shisha pipe, philosophize about being in paradise until we get comfortably tired. We sleep right next to the smouldering embers.