San Blas island and summary Central America
Here I am, writing from home again. In my last post from Panama I mentioned that I was about to finish my trip with a camping tour to the San Blas islands (Kuna Yala). To summarize, it could really have been paradise but the conditions of the camping tour and the weather spoiled that experience unfortunately. It was a terrible trip for me, not only because of what I just mentioned but also because I had a very bad cold. Coughing the nights through in a hot, moist tent made me more homesick than I have ever been before. After the tour the group (me + eight great people whom without I would not have managed those days) got some refund from the tour operator for sending us to a poorly maintained camp.
Below picture of the dog in the rain will allways remind me of how I felt those days stranded on an, almost, deserted island. So glad to be back!
Besides the poor camping conditions the tour was over prized and did not fullfill what it said. As a counterargument the travel agency mentioned that doing business with the Kunas is really difficult. They show their dominant postion through example controlling who enters and leaves Kuna land every day. This is the reason me and the group could not leave earlier even if we wanted. The sad thing is that it would have been a much better experience if only the camping element was taken away. The last night was spent in the Kuna village and even though the conditions where simple we had waterproof roof and dry bed. This is how most people experience San Blas, by a homestay. I am sure it would have been a complet different experience if I would have choosen this option but then once again, my cold would still have bothered me. Guess why everyone looks so happy on the last picture? Because it was the last meal before heading back to Panama city 😉 For the refund and a bit more I checked in to the Marriott in Panama city for the last night and it was worth every penny.
From this trip I choose to write rather much, country by country, but since I travelled without laptop transferring photos was a bit difficult but I have updated all my posts with pictures today so feel free to check them out. One interesting observation I did when choosing pictures for Honduras was how difficult it was to reduce the amount of pictures. The tone in my text does not allways correspond with the pictures. There was some disappointments about food, weather and lack of atmosphere on our holiday in Honduras but looking back on my pictures I choose to remember only the good days and the good days we had where actually really good 🙂
I have now been to all countries in Central America minus El Salvador and plus Tulum in Mexico. This years trip can in no mening compete with last years. At first I thought it was only the first impression last year that made me feel like that. Or maybe the fact that the weather has been a bit disappointing during this years trip. But looking back I understand that we just happened to choose the most amazing places already last year. And the lodgings were all wonderful which is something that has become more and more important for me for the total experience of a place. Not to forget last years culinary experiences. On this trip the most spectacular lodging was definetely the “Mananamadera” coffe estate in Boquete, Panama. But also “Lands end” in Honduras was a great experience and all the comfy hotels in Florida plus my last Marriott night in Panama city. Not to forget the tranquilo Finca Mystica in Nicaragua. The food was not at all as good on this trip although I have to say they knew how to make smoothies in Panama (unlike Honduras and Nicaragua).
If you are planning a trip to Central America I would say stick to mine and Louise´s last years itinerary but add a bit of Panama if you have the time, and you will have seen the best of this region. Some say Nicaraua is their favourite destination. I liked what I saw and maybe I did not see enough to be able to make a fair judgement. But for me Nicaragua can not compete with Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica. And this years beach experiences cannot compete with Tulum in Mexico. The snorkelling in Panama is fantastic due to the colours of the reef but the large amount of sharkes, turtles and stingays that we saw in Belize makes Belize a more exiting snorkel desination.
It has been great to have two month vacation but I have learned about myself that more than that is not necessary in one go for me. Lots of people travel for half a year, a year or more. I rather split it up since I have noticed that after a while you take everything for granted and tend to forget how privileged you are being on such a great vacation. With this said I am very happy I took two month off because I believe it is great to now and then disconnect with my normal routines and stressful life I sometimes live . No more trips planned so far even if the “want to do list” is very long as usual. In the meantime I will keep on documenting past trips. Hope you will follow!
Posted on April 15, 2012, in Panama and tagged Backpacking, Belize, Central America, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Kuna Yala, Nicaragua, Panama, Photography, Photos, San Blas, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.