San Blas & Estrellas Del Mar

I had to be back in the US for a site visit to Dallas the following week so my trip to Panama was cut short. I had one day I could book a tour for and the choices were the Panama Canal or the nearby islands of San Blas. When given the chance I always choose the water. The canal wasn’t going anywhere. Airbnb has a tour that will allow you to experience San Blas in 1 day.

With a 5am pick up, a 8am boat ride, and an 9am arrival to explore these islands I was ready. By then I had moved from Selina to another airbnb. The Selina Panama City turned into a club at night with a rooftop bar, fun but not conducive to sleep. My next house was impossible to find on google maps. My uber driver took me to the road listed, saying he didn’t know where to go, bro same. Now I am standing there with limited cell phone service, no data, and I can’t find the house. My host has to come in his car and pick me up. Like I said, I travel adventurously, my guardian angel is always on high alert pushing helpful people to me.

Considering my last day was going to be on San Blas, and you have to get tested 24 hours before you leave, I had limited options. Luckily in Panama you could have your covid tester come to your location. I booked my covid test for 9pm that night. Hopefully she could find the address. I’d return from the trip at 8pm, my flight was the next day at 2pm. It was tight but it would work. I took a rapid test that night confirming I was negative just to be safe.

We picked up some other travelers and made our way across the narrow country from the pacific to the Caribbean sea. The journey started on a twisty road and continued through the humid foggy jungle, we emerged and found a hidden port. With the waves a rocking and we boarded a small boat. Smash, smash, smash, each wave rocks us as the sun starts to break through. When we arrive I look back, the row behind me is completely soaked through. Got lucky again.

The tour included coffee, lunch with a drink, a half day on an island, and a tour to a couple sandbars. The first stop was called Isla Perro Chico. The morning fog cleared and the sun shone. I made friends with some Mexicans and a British woman. At lunch we all sat together speaking Spanish and joking. From there we went to two sandbars to swim in the shallow crystal blue waters and find starfish. The afternoon washed away diving to get close to these beauties. We say goodbye to the estrellas de mar and head back to the boat.

We had one final stop on an island that is populated with 1000 people. They are technically independent having won their freedom to govern separately from Panama. This is why we had to bring our passports. We walked through their town filled with a mix of wooden and concrete homes. There was a celebration happening in one of the big meeting spaces. The men sat on one side in wooden rows, the women danced on the other side in a group. They had a local alcoholic drink they brew here and sip after their elders sip out of a communal bowl. Our tour guide passed it to us, I was the first to sip. I was fully vaccinated and had a strong immune system. Take the risk, be a local.

While walking around the village, one of the guys on the tour talks to me. He is from Panama, and his Spanish accent is so hard to understand. Most of my responses are que or pardon. Throughout this year I will really see how different the accents and vocabulary can be. The trip ends without any complications. I arrive back to the airbnb, test with my local physician, receive the negative result, get my last hit of caffeine, and board the plane back to the US. Panama now the 3rd country I visited in 2022.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s