“Hello, is there anybody out there?” No, I’m not messing up the lyrics to Comfortably Numb, it is how we are feeling as we move into the off-season. Suddenly the normal flood of familiar names heard over the radio or anchored nearby has become nothing more than a trickle. For our land-based friends, the off-season (June-Nov or hurricane season) sees many cruisers leaving their boats and heading back home. Many Pacific Ocean cruisers set sail for the South Pacific (think soft white beaches, palms and friendly Polynesians – but only after sailing 3 weeks across an ocean) or head back north into Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. We have chosen to move south and east where we are safely out of the hurricane zone, but well within the rainy season. Not only are there very few cruisers out there, Western Panama has very few people, period. It is tranquil to say the least.
It is a rugged, very tropical, wet, jungly and sparsely inhabited land. There are indigenous peoples mixed in all about and everyone lives a subsistence lifestyle, as there are virtually no cities for miles around.
Some of the little villages we saw didn’t even have roads going to them. The locals move about by boat or when necessary over unforgiving trails through the thick forests.
We dropped anchored in the beautiful bay of Bahia Honda and were promptly greeted by life-long island resident and friend to cruisers, Domingo. Although my Spanish is still that of a 3-year-old, Domingo’s constant chatting somehow sunk in and we were trading goods for fruits and herbs, visiting his home and being his guests to visit Salmonete a tiny village up a river to buy lobsters from the fishermen, undoubtedly his buddies.
On our second day there we were joined by Larry and Debbie from “Tropical Blend” (whom we met back in El Salvador) and it was nice to have friends join us on the lobster adventure and kayaking through the estuaries.