Monday, April 06, 2009


Island of the Rubber Sandal Graveyard

Isla San Jose was the first of the Las Perlas (the pearls) islands in Western (Pacific) Panama that we visited. The group of islands called Las Perlas is not only famous for their pearls and cool breezes, but also one of the islands was one of the early locations for the filming of the TV show "Survivor".

Unbelieveably, this one island is privately owned! Lucky dog. But, thankfully the owners are cruiser-friendly and allow us to anchor and explore their little slice of heaven. We were the only sailboat anchored here, yet we could hear chatter on the VHF radio from some boats in another anchorage. and we never saw another human.

Swimming was a no-go because the water was a frigid 66 degrees F! Really! The water farther north in Panama was 86 degrees, but not here. We know there is a strong current that run up from the south - Humbolt current - that is cold so perhaps that is why. Anyway, with air temperatures in the low 80's we stayed out of the water.

But hiking on the beach and into the interior was definitely an option. After spending the previous several days at anchor in little Benau bay on the mainland stuck on the boat due to high northeast winds we were anxious to get off and move our legs. Oooo...driftwood! I've always loved to explore the clumps of driftwood and other stuff that washes ashore. Even as a kid, my dad would take us to the shore after a big storm in California to see what "good stuff" had washed up.

Now, this was just plain weird. There were not only the usual plastic jetsom tangled with the driftwood, but hundreds of rubber sandals. We found the Rubber Sandal Graveyard! This is where those lost and tossed shoes go to rest in peace. Everywhere that we have traveled in Mexico and Central America, we've noticed that rubber flip-flops are a popular shoe choice (in addition to gold & sparkles high heels for shopping trips into town). So that means that there are a lot of these shoes whose useful lives have ended.The variety was endless! All sorts of sizes, colors, and styles. We wondered if you could search among the piles and eventually find a matching pair!

Anyway, once I had located a really cool piece of twisted driftwood to decorate the boat, we headed towards a path we'd seen that led to the interior of the island.

Well, we hiked, and then we hiked some more mostly uphill. Suddenly we came across a gravel road. Yep, the owner had his construction company make roads for him - and only him - to travel about the island. We came across lots of baby coconut trees. See, the coconuts drop from the tree and then roll downhill to a new location. There, they sprout, and eventually send down roots.

Folks who want a coconut palm can simply pick one up after it has sprouted and before it has taken root. And speaking of coconut palms, the trees have this thatched stuff that hangs from the trunk. It looks like a woven piece of fabric with strands running at perfect right angles! Hmmm..wonder if this is where some of the early humans got the idea for weaving? Some tropical folks have made clothing and shelter "fabrics" from it - called 'Tapa cloth" in the South Pacific.

Soon, we were hot, tired, thirsty, and hungry so we trotted off downhill towards the boat. At the time we were totally unaware that we were bringing home some unwelcome hitch-hikers - TICKS! Oh yeah. The next day I found one tick one me and quickly had Jonesy do a full-body inspection of me. He found 2 more - all 3 were located in the type of skin that is soft, white, and never sees the light of day...if you get my drift. Jonesy's turn - yes he had several too. Nature, ya gotta love it.

Later that afternoon, (before we found the ticks) we dinghy'd over to a cave we had read about. It is in really deep water. The owner of the island has a fishing shack high up on the cliff and all he has to do is drop a line down and let the fish bite! Cool. We motored into the cave, but I got scared. Get us out of here!!! Go, Jonesy Go!

See the dinghy on the shore? See the set of animal tracks in the sand? We think they are sheep! Why? Well, they looked like the size and shape of sheep feet - and we overheard a radio conversation between an islander and another boat about having a sheep bar-b-que. Sheep on a beach?

Okay, now for the knitting. I finished the gloves using the brightly colored solar-dyed yarns and I love them! Even Jonesy likes them! Then I churned out a couple of more pairs (while stuck on the boat in the high winds) from the last yards of my hand-dyed yarns. Yippppeeee! There will be several more pairs of warm hands in Kazakhstan next winter.

Back to knitting and exploring....

Oh my, the beach looks wonderful!
Here in NY we are getting SNOW!!!!
Like serious snow, snowing and blowing and covering the ground.

That is so cool about Survivor! I have watched every show.

I love you colorful gloves and mits. Keep up the great knitting.
I love travelling with you to places I'll probably never see. However, I never dreamed there would be ticks in Central America. For some reason, I assumed they were a cold winter weather type of nuisance only found in woods (not jungles!). Glad you found them all.
Great post... do wish you had one of those little map things that show all the places you have been, I'm a geography nut so I get into maps.
Just getting caught up on your latest travels, I see you are closer to your Panama Canal destination...I can't wait. A local person I met here is an expert on the canal and actually lectures on the cruise ships about the canal. He was explaining to me what you would be doing when you go through the Canal, can't wait to hear how that goes! Take care and safe sailing...I still think of you everytime I put on the socks you knit for me...they are my favorites!
I love catching up with you, such an interesting life! I am glad you too are well. I would have been intrigued by the cave and probably just as afraid once I got in it. Great pictures!
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