12 nm to the non-traditional town of Nargana
Having had our fun at The Swimming Pool and needing an internet connection to launch the six
new webpages written over the last five weeks, we weighed anchor on Sunday, Nov.16 after The Net,
and headed southeast past several more chains of cays, toward the twin town islands of
Nargana-Corazon. Nargana (called Yandup by the Kunas) and Corazon are
two islands whose 1,000
inhabitants have chosen to abandon the traditional ways and adopt more modern trappings, such as
TV's, internet, western clothes, a busy airstrip, schools, restaurants, tiendas, and homes built
of concrete and tin. When we first anchored, just east of the bridge around noon, we were a little
disappointed, what with the palm thatch houses on the uncrowded coconut islands a stark contrast to
the dirt and grime of brickbat construction and generally crowded town-y housing. However, the charms
of Nargana soon revealed themselves to us over the next 4 days.
At the crack of dawn on Monday, we were greeted with not only a sunny morning, but the sights and sounds
of the puddlejumper plane landing, then taking off, with its many passengers to-and-fro in water taxis.
One big new advantage to being in these islands so close together to each other is that we don't have to
do the dinghy drill; it's sufficient to tie the dinghy behind us as we commute from anchorage to anchorage
in quarter-to-half-day passages; therefore, it is ready to transport us as soon as we are anchored.
So immediately after breakfast and The Net, we grabbed our laptops and dinghied to the recommended
spot, the dock for Nali's Cafe, just west of the nice, new, steel, walking bridge that connects the two
islands, recently built to replace the old wooden bridge. We tied up at Nali's rickety wooden pier,
walked through the pleasant palapa-roofed, sand-floor, outside seating, and through the concrete hallway
to the backroom table area, which exits out to just behind the primary school that has the internet antennae.
We introduced ourselves to the proprietor, waitress, and cook, who assured us we could get the wifi just
fine sitting there at the table; he even plugged in an antennae booster to make sure we got a strong
signal! We connected right up, ordered a couple of sodas, and commenced to catching up on e-mail and
net-surfing, as well as beginning the loooong, slooow upload of the six new webpages.
After an hour, back at the cafe's waterfront side, looking around and
chatting with the waitress and cook, who weren't yet busy, we asked
after "Nali". We were amused to discover there was no such
person, but that it means "shark" in Kuna, as the papier mache
shark head on the wall testified to. Meanwhile, I moved to the
primary school around the corner, and was there, sitting on
the stairwell landing above the computer room for better wifi reception,
with two young American men on their laptops, a gaggle of cute,
little schoolchildren all around. These Kuna kids are just the epitome
of CUTE, always smiling and well-behaved, walking hand-and-hand,
with happy, trusting eyes, genuinely curious about us
visitors. They absolutely ADORE to have their photographs taken,
running up to see themselves in the display, and bursting into
laughter at their own images. The young men, Don and Matt,
were Mormon missionaries, recently arrived from Orange County and
Seattle (there are small Christian churches of five denominations on Nargana-
Corazon). We asked them about the layout of the village, then went walking in
search of provisions.
On Tuesday at Nargana, we went in shore one more time to complete the
web-page uploads, and to visit more with the other cruisers
coming ashore for internet and provisioning too, as well as
to enjoy the icy-cold beers and delicious lunches of
sauteed lobster or chicken, mashed breadfruit and capers, and
french fries at Nali's Cafe. We also chatted there with
Sammy, a Kuna man who lived in Detroit, MI, in the 1950s,
playing basketball for an area college; he speaks perfect English.
We learned from him and others that quite a few Kunas
have emigrated to the US over the years. Later, we walked about the
village again, buying dozens of fresh madu (the Kuna bread)
at 5 cents each. We got some at a private house and some more at
a bakery complete with a modern steel oven. We continued on to the Bodega
Yandup at the foot of the bridge to purchase beer, wine, and cola.
Colombian traders had blankets spread out across from the Bodega,
selling DVDs, CDs, toothpaste, bar soap, kids underwear, brassieres, and
cartoon-character backpacks. Small Colombian tradeships come in almost every day
to the commercial dock on the Corazon-side.
We finished up our time in Nargana with a lazy Wednesday on the boat and a
happy hour visit with Chris and Elaine from K-SERA, an interesting
couple from Australia, who have farmed, published a newspaper, and served
in their area's council seat, before retiring to the cruising life. The next
day was Thursday the 20th, and with our visas needing renewal by the 24th, we
thought we'd be peremptory and scoot back to the offices at Porvenir before