Several days after our first visit to Carti, our new cruiser friends Louis on “Freya “and Kelly and Darin “Mischief” suggested we all go shopping to the same islands. We were intrigued because both of these boats have spent many seasons in Panama and know a lot about the region, islands, and Kuna. We explained our lack luster adventure and were assured we missed the store and the Kuna museum.
Matt and I had no plans for the next day as I had already completed my boat cleaning projects and packed for my trip back to the states so we quickly agreed to meet them in Carti. Sugar Shack pulled up anchor first, around 0930 with the hopes of making it a bit of a sail day. We had not been able to raise the full main in a while and were happy to see the winds at 30 degrees. It is a bit of a pinch, but we can do it.
We raised the main while at the anchorage, pulled up the anchor and were on our way. To our delight, we had 15 knots of wind, right at 30 degrees and were able to sail with full canvas. It would require us to tack several times, but we didn’t care, we were just happy to be sailing.
After the first tack, we headed further away from our waypoint, but with luck, we would be able to make our destination with only one more tack. As luck would have it, our wind died. It dropped form 15 down to 5 and when we made the tack we slowed to less than 1 knot. We tacked back to gain some speed and made another attempt to tack toward our goal. Slowly, we turned and were on our way, but at a painstaking 2-3 knots. We turned on the engines and left the sails up in search of a wind line.
Within 10 minutes, we were met with a fresh bout of wind pushing up toward 25-28 knots. Wowza, where did this come from? We shut the engines down, reefed the jib and enjoyed the ride. The wind did not last long, and we were soon forced to turn on the engines again. We would have loved to continue our sail, but we had to be in Carti before noon in order to meet our friends to find the market.
All of us anchored in the same general area and headed into Carti Sugdup. Matt and I had visited this island before, but as I mentioned earlier, we were not successful in finding the market or the Kuna Museum.
Our first mistake: Dinghy parking. On our first visit, we parked the dinghy behind the fuel dock where a few other pangas and dugouts were located. On our second visit, we parked at a regular dock, with a thatched roof and was much easier to access. Just as you exit the dock, there is a trash deposit, yeah! We have found that you have to be very judicious about where you leave your trash with the Kuna as they tend to dump it in the ocean. This place has a daily pick up where they take it to the mainland for disposal.
After we deposited our trash, we walked through a very well stocked market. It is not like HEB or even a mini-market at a gas station, but it had fresh fruits, veggies, and some meats.
Down a well-maintained dirt path, just past the “Congeso” is a small eatery called “Pango Rojo”. We were planning on eating lunch first, then visiting the Kuna museum, then coming back to get produce. Off to lunch.
Matt and I passed this restaurant on our first trip. We recognized it by the skulls hanging from a string at the entrance. Not sure what critter belonged to those skulls, but they appeared to be a source of pride and joy for the establishment.
We were seated, ordered beer, water, and food. Your choice was chicken or fish. Two of us ordered chicken and the rest ordered fish. It was about 1330 and excruciatingly hot inside. They had two fans but neither were on – when we asked to turn them on they said in “30 minutes the power will come on” So we waited, and waited in the heat, with no beverages. Evidently, they had to go out to the market and the “private store” to buy the beer. We grew tired of waiting and sent 2 boys out to get beer.
Of course, before they came back, our beer showed up. Which was fine, as we were so hot, we drank the first one rather quickly. As we continued to wait the power finally turned on and graced us with some air movement from the fans – yeah! But it took well over 90 minutes before our food was served and what a surprise that was.
The fish head was the first plate served to Louis. He happily dug in, completely not bothered by the face staring back at him.
Slowly other plates were delivered and as it turned out, they served two fish to four people. Two people got heads and two people got tails.
Let me tell you how glad I was that my chicken did not have a head, tail, or feet attached. I have to say though; the fish was rather tasty if you could get passed the looks of it and the fact that you had to pick your way around the bones and spine.
All of the homes/huts are made using bamboo tied together with twine, ribbon, or material. It remarkable how are constructed.
Now that we were all fed and had consumed several beers and water, we had to use the “facilities.” On most of the Kuna islands we have noticed that there is no running water. And most, if not all, have huts over the water which we learned were the “facilities.” So, this would be an adventure.
The “public bathrooms” are actually for everyone as the Kuna do not have restrooms in their homes. Down a small alleyway, across a very precarious walkway of wooden planks that were draped over logs (not attached), was a small hut. Being the chicken that I am, I let Kelly go first. As she returned, she said “don’t fall in” and I thought she meant on the way to the toilet.
I gingerly crossed the bridge and peered inside. Humph. There is no door, but as you go in further there is a small wall where you do your business behind.
Hmmmm…do I really need to go this bad? I knew I would need to do my thang over water, but I did not know the floor would be so slippery and unstable. In I went. Behind the little make shift wall, there are two small limbs that you place each foot, drop your drawers and do your thing. Thank goodness, I did not fall in!
Off to the Carti Kuna museum. We actually found the museum, but the Kuna guide who spoke English was off island so we will have to come back another time.
Back to the market and the dock. The second mistake we made during our first trip to Carti Sugdup was that we didn’t ask where the “market” was and we did not go down each of the dirt paths. Had we walked all the way to the water on this one street that we stopped midway and turned around we would have found the market. None the less, they had great pineapple, papaya, apples, onions, green peppers, soda, bananas and a lot more. Since I was leaving the next day, we only did a small provision run.
Fun Carti Sugdup Images: