So it has been some time since we’ve had access to the Internet and even if we did we’ve been a little bit busy so please excuse the lapse in attendance to the blog. Things have been a little crazy here on Sundowner as we worked to get ready for guests to come and visit us.

My best friend from childhood and his wife were coming to see us! Our first non family visitors! Alan had always promised to come pay us a visit but we didn’t really know when or where he’d show up. Well it seems that Panama was the place and so we started to research how to get to San Blas from back in “reality”.

Excitement was running high as not only were our friends coming to see us, but they were also bringing with them a hoard of goodies from back in the states which Dani had been painstakingly researching and ordering over the course of months! She’d been having them delivered to her Mom’s house. (Thanks Robin!) Alan was going to package our loot up and haul it down with him. I know this may not mean much to many people but once you’ve been living in the third world for about a year you will understand what a big deal this is and how exciting it can be.

So we had all the dates set and arranged and everything was sorted. We’d pick them up in the East Lemon island group and head back to the swimming pool. We motored over to the East Lemons to await our guests. We dropped anchor in the unfamiliar spot and then got a call from an unfamiliar boat on the radio. It was Wooden Shoe letting us know that the hotel Alan and Amanda were staying at had called to let them know that a flight had been delayed and that they’d not make it to us on the day we scheduled. Shucks. Well that night we got blasted by a 30+ kt squall and stayed up on anchor watch so we weren’t quite as bright eyed and bushy tailed as we hoped the next rainy morning when our friends finally arrived.

It was still a fond welcoming of friends though. We decided to high tail it out of the East Lemons and make the most of the week we had left by heading back to the Swimming Pool. So we cranked up the motor and headed back over. I’m sure at this point Amanda and Alan were questioning their decision to stay a week on a boat since it was overcast and the waves had picked up even in the channel as we dutifully motored back to our favorite anchoring spot.

Though they were troopers and made the most of it. No serious bouts of mal de mar.

As we are heading along on the two or three hours it takes to get from East Lemons to the Swimming Pool, Dani was down below, literally rolling around in her loot. Alan said to her, “You go on down there, we know it is like Christmas.” And boy it sure was. The treasure trove of stuff covered half the boat and it took Dani most of the trip to stow it all away, though I’m sure much of that time was spent playing with her new stuff.

We got back to the swimming pool and went for an initial snorkel in waters with more current and debris than I’d encountered since we’ve been here. Amanda said she brought a Chinese Dragon with here (a rain God or spirit), and I think she wasn’t joking. Despite the murky waters, I shot a barracuda that was then attacked by a shark which was then attacked by myself. (I won, I chased the shark off). As I’m swimming back to the dink holding the fish by the spear I turned around and see the spear gun is missing (it usuually just trails along behind me by the shooting line). The shark must have bit clean through it and I didn’t notice. Poor Alan… I’m shouting at him, “Get this fish back in the boat!” So here is Alan, having never spear fished, having to haul a scary big barracuda back to the dink while I paddle around in a fury looking for the missing gun. I couldn’t find it.

I swim back to the dink and yell at Alan to get in. We start up the motor and mercifully I found the gun floating down current about 10 minutes later. That was enough excitement for opening day. Well almost enough. The fried barracuda seemed to be a big hit that night. Thanks for helping me land it Alan.

The next day we decided to go buy some coconuts and lobsters from the Kuna. We’d not been to “Victor’s Island” before but with guests looking to see some of the local stuff it seemed like a prime time. So we hopped in the dink and headed off.

Victor’s island (named for Victor, the long time kuna anchor fee guy in these parts) turned out to be a pretty little island that actually had a store that sold crackers, canned beans, sugar, and coconuts, of which we purchased some. They had no lobsters though.

Our friends on a tropical island.

Coconuts found.

Amanda and her umbrella which I believe would have come snorkelling with us if she’d been able to put a float on it. 😉

All went well except that Alan dropped a coconut on my foot. Youch!

We were somewhat perplexed about dinner but on heading back to Sundowner we spot a Kuna boat heading off at high speed that looked suspiciously like one of the boats that sells lobster. We all started yelling and waving and finally they turned around and headed back. Sure enough they had what we were after.

Big langostas.

I negotiated the price for two big four pound lobsters and they threw one small one in gratis. Then one guy asks if we have any beer, he’d trade another for beer. Sure! Dani hands over a couple and we get another lobster. The Kuna all head off laughing and having a total blast. I think they were drunk at this point. And so we hang a sack of lobsters off the side of the boat for safe keeping while we take that evening to go explore Quinquindup, a nearby island.

Dani and I had been to a few cruiser burns over at Quinquindup (where we burn our trash on the beach). Its a really beautiful beach but in the past it had been pretty buggy. Luckily the Chinese Dragon brought wind out of the west with it so there were no bugs and we really could enjoy the island. It was perfect.

And we even burnt some trash. Ah, cruising life.

That night we ate the lobsters and plotted our snorkelling adventures the next day. Despite the slightly murky waters and overcast skies, we did have some good snorkelling. We headed out to a spot the cruisers call the “Japanese water garden” and also another spot near the anchorage that as of yet has no name.

Sights from our underwater adventures:

Blue tangs

Coral formations in the water garden

Nurse shark sightings

Jelly fish that were easily avoided if you spotted them. No one was stung.

And finally, we got to show Amanda a conch shell. Everyone has seen them but they’re hard to describe. We made a conch ceviche one day for the guests and it was great to find a shell and say, “See, this is what we ate!”

Besides good food and good swimming, I was just happy to see my friends. Alan and I haven’t gotten to hang out in a long time, but like so many times in our lives, we spent time apart and reunited like not a day had passed in the in between. So we spent our days playing chess like old times and our nights sipping cocktails and feasting on fish. (As a side note, Amanda tells me I need to use Chilli oil to get my “Asian style fish” recipe more authentic, looking forward to finding that stuff!)

All too quickly the days and nights had dwindled and so off to the Lemons we headed once again.

We’d spent as much time as possible in the swimming pool during one last snorkel and only dropped the hook just as the sun was going down.

The next morning we saw our friends off in the launcha and waved goodbye, sad, but filled with fond memories. Thanks for the visit!