Sailing Adventures in San Blas

Ograsiano – Sailing Adventures in San Blas (Part 2)

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Ograsiano - Sailing Adventures in San Blas (Part 2)

Read the first part of the Ograciano’s Story here

Going up the river it gives me great pleasure not to see any human signals, such as garbage and plastic, an unreal world without the smallest piece of plastic. At the mouth I noticed that the shores of a man-made forest were overflowing with tons of plastic brought from the sea. I immediately thought of my friend Luigi Ottogalli who always paints wonderful places encountered in his thousands of travels and I thought of a beautiful picture of the sea dying in a very dense forest with a first row of mangroves followed by coconut trees and going deeper, thousands of species of plants, colorful flowers and animals living in good condition.

At a certain point my thought is canceled by the input of my eyes of a somewhat bizarre vision. On the river bank in a sandy beach I see a large crocodile at least 4 meters long crouched and asleep.


Disconcerting! Passing with the Kuna boat less than 5 meters away, the sweet little animal slept peacefully without looking at us …. The kuna tells me that it is normal, the crocodile almost always hunts in the evening and sleeps every day. In any case, they live peacefully unless they are harassed, in which case an attack is inevitable. A shiver runs through my back at the thought and we continue our journey to collect water.

We arrive at an inlet where a large forest tree more than 15 meters high, in the previous days due to strong tropical storms, had settled in the river bed forming an arch in the middle. The water is very shallow and you can see the branches full of large green leaves below the waterline, I immediately worry about how to pass to the other side, the kuna of how it slingshot to the center with a masterful maneuver with the rudimentary boat.

The bow higher than the rest of the boat guides us, cutting the smaller branches that grow green to the north of the tree, I quickly lower my head to avoid hitting it and we manage to pass. I ask the Kuna if it wasn’t better to use his machete first and he laughs and tells me that he has forgotten it … good! it was better that I take mine that I have on the boat but the euphoria of the adventure had made me forget it too.

Two hundred meters away we meet another tree, this time it was a mango tree and in very shallow water. I have a clear vision that our journey is over. Then my native friend, travel companion, guide and supplier of fish, water, lobsters and whatever else pulls out from the belly of the boat, a long pointed pole of seasoned and very elastic wood and begins to push us on the uprooted branches, I do first as a spectator and then as an active collaborator I take possession of the big kuna paddle that he left lying on the bottom, and I try to help him as I can.

The heavy wooden boat with all the bins still empty on board, does not want to pass and in any case my vision is at the end of the journey. When my friend Kuna “Ograsiano”, he throws himself into the not-so-hot water up to his waist and starts fumbling with long submerged branches. They are very strong and elastic and at his attempt to bend them to break and detach them so that the boat can pass with his load, he fails and each time the strong green branches return to their current position. Meanwhile, the guests and I take the opportunity to eat a substantial amount of fresh mangoes from the fallen tree.

“The Kuna indigenous people who populate the islands of San Blas (Gunayala) historically originating in northern Colombia, who escaped cannibals, are generally of short stature, hardly reach one meter and sixty centimeters, I would say that the average is one and a half meters, but they have an enviable body, thin and full of nerves “.

On the third attempt Ograsiano manages to remove the branches and, far from easily, the boat overcomes the obstacle.

The vision I have before my eyes after that hard work is absolutely rare and pleasant. A dense and lush tropical forest cut in two by the river, a body of water that reflects the shapes of the trees, absolute peace, unique smells of moss, tropical plants and flowers. I am enraptured by these emotions that affect all my senses by sending a thousand stimuli to my brain.

In the midst of this vortex of essences I hear Ograsiano’s voice explaining to me that you can navigate the river for much more but that it was a good place to collect water. Then he lets us know that one day we will return with some groups of guests for a more adventurous exploration !!!

Well, now let’s think about water. I realize almost immediately that my doubt has taken shape from the beginning and to my question but you don’t have a bucket to collect the water? Friend kuna laughs, scratches his head in a scene of Stanly and Oliver. He makes me a great tenderness and confesses to me once again that he has forgotten, but he doesn’t lose heart, he takes a coconut shell from his boat and we start filling the 55 gallon tanks with that, luckily, I brought a 5 gallon container to keep on the boat for cooking or whatever.

I passed it to my friend kuna who with another smile accepts the exchange and fills the bins with fresh water. The return is faster and without unexpected events, the wind has increased and so is the wave we now have at the bow. The water that overflows from the bins ends up on me and my friends, washing me pleasantly with fresh water, reward for the repentance of not having bathed in the river. I take this opportunity to cast the line and fish like kuna and incredulous we also bring a beautiful 5 kg blue fish on the boat. Spectacular green and blue silvery colors. Exceptional flavor for a cevice eaten with gusto by all my guests.

We arrive at the boat, the sailor is already on deck ready to transfer the water to our tanks. I also see the guests left on the boat greeting us animatedly. I also feel a great smell of food, I leave the kitchen..ahh what a beautiful day.

Goodbye to everyone.

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