10-30-2002 3:45 pm Lemon Cays
|N 9 32 42||Air 87F Water 82F|
|W 78 53 58||Just starting to rain a bit|
I finished relashing our ratlines this morning and added a new step. We now have one solid wooden step lashed about 25 feet off the deck. It will make a nice place to perch while entering reef areas. After I got it up we decided to give it a try and proceeded to get the boat ready to move to another island.
Just before we started the motor some of the local Kuna Indians came by wanting to visit. They had invited us to their hut a couple of days ago so we invited them aboard. When we first entered the Cay they were the first group to come by to sell molas. We asked to trade but they weren’t interested. Actually the husband seemed to have his eye on some locking pliers and screwdrivers in my bag but he said that his wife would only take money. Today they wanted to trade. They wanted some tools and some perfume, nail polish and lipstick. I think he needed the cosmetics to make his wife happy giving up some molas. He really seemed to want the tools. Birgitta asked him why he wanted them and she thinks he intends to become a mechanic. He doesn’t seem to know anything about tools or machines but now that he has some I think he feels much more qualified. Future cruisers may want to watch who they hire for fixing their outboard in this area. While that family was there another couple of locals came by selling lobster and crab. We bought a local crab. It is huge! The legs are more then 2 feet across. Someone said these are really good to eat so we will give it a try tonight.
A smaller crab we bought another day because we forgot to take a picture of the big one.
When they left with invitations to visit their village on another island, (they only stay on this one for a couple of months a year to gather coconuts) we started the engine and proceeded to way anchor. About half way through the anchor chain some French cruisers arrived who wanted to visit with us. We told them where we were going and they decided to come along. We slipped through the pass in the reef following our old course (GPS is wonderful!) and motored the 4 miles to Lemon Cay. I climbed up the ratlines into the rigging and guided Birgitta through the reef here to a really nice anchorage. The wind has dropped down a bit this evening but I think that even if it picks up again this anchorage will be millpond flat. There are also fewer locals on the islands so the mola and fish selling didn’t take anywhere as long.
We just took a swim in the clear water. It is really something being able to see 40 or 50 feet. We just swam around the boat but even there we saw a lot of fish and crabs. There were many barracuda swimming about and suddenly rushing off after a fish. I think Birgitta may remove her watch and wedding ring before swimming next time. I had my first real look at Temptresses bottom since the haul out. It is immaculate. Not a speck of growth yet. There is one place where the paint was removed by the straps of the lift, but even there there is nothing growing. I think this paint is much better then what we had last year. Only time will tell but I am optimistic.
We ended up spending 3 days at ChiChime Cay. I wanted time to fix up the ratlines and I replaced the front bearing in our wind generator. It now is much quieter and makes significantly more power. It went bad so very gradually I didn’t notice how bad it had become. While we were there we had quite a bit of breeze. With the solar panels and wind generator we made enough power yesterday to fully charge our batteries by about 11am and run our water maker all day. We now have full tanks and have even turned up the refrigerator. It is nice to have enough electricity. On the pacific side we started to have to ration power when the rainy season started. No wind over there and not much sun. Here is is sunnier and there is much more wind.
Molas are colorful, intricate, multilayered applique textile sewn by the Kuna women (and some men). They are traditionally worn sewn on their blouses, covering their midriff. The blouse itself is made of gauzy material typically pink or blue with bright flowers, and does not match the mola at all. The skirt is a rectangle of navy blue cotton with simple yellow patterns, wrapped around the waist and falling to just below the knees. They also wear bead bracelets covering the the leg from ankle to mid-calf and the arms from wrist to elbow, and a scarf on their head. They also wear a gold nose ring. They apply rouge on their cheeks liberally, and a black line from the forehead to the tip of the nose. Most Kuna women still wear the traditional dress, except in the busiest islands close to mainland. Men dress the western way, tee-shirt and shorts in this hot weather.
Robertino and his family
Selling molas to tourists is a significant source of revenue for the families and they can be very persistent. Once, we had a canoe with two women selling molas visiting the boat and the second woman became quite upset that I bought a mola only from the first, even after I gave her pencils and paper for her daughter who needs them in school. Although most of them are polite and will leave if told no more molas, I do feel pressured by the daily visits and the request for free pencils, magazines, sewing needles, milk, cigares, fish hooks etc. Clark says I should just say no and not get upset about it but it is hard to say no. In our society, people are taught not to ask or expect anything for free (Birgitta hasn’t had to deal with many door to door salesmen or Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently. clark) I resent the Kuna taking me for Santa Claus even if they are not pushy about it. I have a few magazines but I want to keep them for cruiser friends, so do I lie and say I have none or do I try to explain in my broken Spanish they are reserved for friends? Their Spanish is not always very good as their main language is Kuna. All children learn Spanish in school and some do also learn English but older women have never learned either.
Besides selling molas, the Kunas gather coconuts which are sold to Columbian traders, lobster which is flown to Panama City and they grow various roots and pineapples on the mainland portion of their territory. It is mostly subsistence leaving. All the Kuna land belongs to all Kunas. There is no private property but their society is very tightly organized and controlled by chiefs. A permit is necessary for a Kuna to move from one island to the other. The family of Robertino, whom we met in Chichime, was gathering coconuts 2 months in Chichime, 6 months in Holandes Cays and spent the rest of the time in their home village where they fished and grew fruits and vegetables. Robertino is a very smart man who learned a bit of English so he could be friendly with cruisers and give a better chance to his wife to sell molas (he said so himself when I talked to him in Spanish).