Friday, April 03, 2009


Bahia Honda Day 2

The following day, we picked up our new friend Domingo in our dinghy and rode across the Bahia Honda bay to visit a remote village. We had candy and toys for the kids and were hoping to be able to trade some other goods for the wooden carved items which are made by the villagers. There are no roads to this settlement and the only access is either by canoe up the river at high tide, or by horse/burro/foot path.

Domingo guided us into the swamp mangroves, pointing out the way and talking excitedly in Spanish. Over the roar of the dinghy engine and the water splashing up against the dinghy, and my lousy Spanish, I struggled to understand what he was saying. But we were all having fun and that’s what counts.

How Domingo knew where to go was a mystery to us as all the mangrove inlets looked the same. Jonesy expertly maneuvered the dink around the floating rafts of coconuts and palm fronds as I gazed up at the bromeliads growing in the trees. These spectacular flowering plants live upon other "host" trees in tropical areas. Collectors in "Gringolandia" (the USA and Canada) and worldwide will pay large amounts of money for some species of thse bizarre plants.

Where the fresh water river meets the tidal surge, we came upon the little village. The only sounds came from the birds and somebody hammering in the distance. Soon, a group of little children shyly came over to check us out. As Domingo greeted some of his friends, we all handed out lollipops and small toys to the kids. Chickens, pigs, and dogs roamed freely around the village.
Everywhere we went, we came across more kids and horses – even small kids ON horses! They sure do start them off on horseback young in these parts! We saw a baby in diapers (about 18mos old?) sitting all alone on a horse in the shade. Is this the local form of playpen? Horsey baby-sitting?

We wandered along the well-worn footpaths between the living structures handing out the treats to children who quietly approached without a word spoken. Ultimately, we arrived at the homes of the wood carver. But, only the wives and children were home. The husbands had taken their wares out on a selling trip and wouldn’t be back for several days. Dang. In this photo, you can see the thatched roof outdoor kitchen where a pot of stew was bubbling and it smelled so yummy! All throughout the village we could smell the wood smoke from these cooking fires. No electricity, no cooking gas, and no running water is available. But we did find the one public satellite phone booth complete with a sign saying not to hitch your horse to the satellite equipment.

Soon it was time to leave. But instead of heading straight back to the boat, we dinghy'd over to the island in the bay where the town of Bahia Honda is located. This is where most of the people in the bay live. They actually have electricity on the island thanks to a diesel generator. We bought cold Cokes for all of us. Jonesy and I sat on a bench and people watched while Domingo chatted with friends.

It was a good visit for both us and Domingo. We got to see, and interact with people who live so differently than us, and Domingo got to visit some of his friends (the distance from his home to the village is too far to paddle in his dugout canoe).

Plus, we distributed about 15 pairs of reading glasses (from the $1 store) to older folks who could use them (including Domingo!).

When we returned to Domingo’s house, he invited us to come ashore. Unexpectedly, he gifted us with 2 large conch shells and his daughter gave us a giant watermelon! Their generosity was overwhelming.

This baby parrot, which was wandering around the yard, is the family’s pet. He/she certainly wasn't afraid of us at all.

And, this is a photo of Domingo’s darling granddaughter carrying her new purse filled with little toys that we gave her earlier in the morning for her 4th birthday present (recognize it Sandi?). We were invited to her party, but we felt that we needed to make some more progress towards our goal of Panama City & the canal so we had to leave before the big event. Happy Big 4 Birthday Stacey!

Domingo waved good-bye to us from the front of his house on the bay as we pulled away in our dinghy. He, and his family are certainly some of Panama's treasures.

Early the next morning, as we were getting ready to sail off – Kennedy came up to us with more fresh eggs from his chickens and green pineapples in exchange for the used Dockers work pants, a few fish hooks, a lure, and some beans and rice from my pantry the prior day. We are thankful for all of our new experiences we had in Bahia Honda. We learned to eat red bananas, and tasted a slightly different kind of papaya. We ate fresh eggs with the brightest orange yolks we’d ever seen and met a wonderful local family.

Our sailing trip that day was a short one, to an island called Isla Cebaco. Even though the rainy season had started while we were up in Costa Rica with the arrival of thunderstorms and tropical downfalls, we hadn’t seen any rain since we left there. The wind was perfect, and the seas relatively calm. We sailed along and enjoyed the cool breezes. Perfect! This is what we dreamed about years ago when we were still working. Yes, COOL breezes too! Costa Rica was HOT, but we’ve been seeing temperatures in the 70’s at night here in Panama with high 80’s during the day. But, the tropical sun is brutal so we seek out the shade.

Along the voyage, I knit another pair of simple mittens for the Akkol Orphanage. The yarn is some that I solar space-dyed many years ago in an old fish aquarium. I love the colors, but when I knit with it, the colors blend and just kinda look muddy don’t they? But then look at the thumb…it is brightly colored and looks much nicer! These are the bright colors that I saw and loved in the hank of yarn when it was in the dye aquarium.

Fiberly Lesson Learned: when dyeing short length colorways, don’t mix complementary colors as they turn to mud when knit. If you want stripes you need to increase the length of each color section. But, when you have a lemon – make gloves! My next knitting project will be gloves with only the fingers knit with this yarn. That way all you’ll have is the nicely striped colors.

This was one of the best places yet. Makes me wish I'd know you before you left so I could have given you items for the villagers. I don't see anything wrong with these mittens, they are very pretty.
Once again Terry, you have brought tears to my eyes with your word pictures. I just love the gentle people that you seem to find along your journey. Thanx for shareing with us who can only dream of far away places or see them from a cruise ship. See you around ravelry. Darrell
I always love the pics you take!
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