Monday, July 13, 2009

Leaving the San Blas Islands

Today was a hard day. A day of transition, a day of change from simple and beautiful to complicated and ugly. We woke up and loaded our possessions in Pablo’s canoe and headed out. All our friends waved us good-bye and Natalia and I both cried as we left our gorgeous island paradise. We paddled and then walked to the airport through the ocean reefs and the island jungles.

We ‘checked in’ at the airport -- writing our names on a list and putting our bags on the landing strip. Then our plane came. We were both in tears and horribly sad to leave. A memory I will have forever is the door slamming all the Kuna people joyously bidding us farewell, and Pablo whispering, “we really will miss you.” This image will be in my head for years.

We landed in Panama City and tried to make the best of our day in Panama. Panama City is not the city the tour books had said it was going to be. It is dirty and poorly built. The “beach” is all dried up and the water is literally black. I love the culture and the people in Panama City, they re beautiful and loving, but the landscape is hard to come to after a beautiful island paradise.

We tried to make the best of our day in Panama by visiting the Panama Canal. I had thought I wasn’t going to like the Panama Canal, but I loved it. I was fascinated by the science and how it works and how the architecture and technology behind it is so interesting. It was hard to be inside buildings with lights and a bunch of tourists and function in normal society, but I was pleasantly surprised by the museum and enjoyed myself.

We left the Canal and went to the airport. We sat in the airport for hours waiting for our airplanes. Natalia was headed to Bogota, Colombia, and I was headed back to Quito, Ecuador. Her flight boarded before mine so we had to officially say good-bye. We had been really emotional and really missing the San Blas Islands and trying to be in denial of it all ending, but this was it, our Kuna adventure was over. After we hugged our goodbyes, I watched her board the plane , saw the hatch close and the plane fly away. I was all alone. Then I got really sad, and wanted to fly back to the islands, but I waited five more hours in the airport for my flight for Quito. I boarded my plane and took my seat and daydreamed into sleep about the wind lapping the leaves of the palm trees against the shore…

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