Saturday, June 21, 2008

Uastupu and Mamitupu N 09 11.137; W077 58.619 - April 10 – 13 2008

These two cays are very close to each other and the mainland. We first anchored off Uastupu – great coral heads and would have been nice to snorkel, but too rolly.
So we stayed the one night and moved over to the area by the water tower off Mamitupu. The villager that had come out to collect their fee had said this was the better of the two areas to anchor in, he was right.
We watched every morning as the local men went to the mainland to work their “farms”. They would come back later in the day with plantains, coconuts, bananas and sometimes fish. They did not try to sell to us but if we called them over, they were happy to provide things we wanted. – for reasonable fees. One gentleman that came out, introduced himself as Pablo Nunez Perez, and spoke very good English. He had his grandson with him and was promoting coconut soap (nicely wrapped in traditional Kuna fabric) and part of the proceeds went towards the children’s education. This was a person I had wanted to meet and we arranged to meet him the next day on shore. Pablo gave us a tour of the village, introduced us to the second chief, his family and his mother. While at his mother’s home, he had his sister demonstrate how they make the coconut oil and the soap and we were allowed to take pictures, but not his mother. She was very shy.
During our visit, I asked about Senor Martinez, who carved small ulu replicas. Pablo located him and we visited with the 83 year old man, who no longer carves as his eyesight has failed him. We learned how the village had been moved from the mainland 72 years earlier and that he had lived here all his life. On first moving from the mainland, there were 10 families with a total of 60 people and now there were about 1200 souls living on the island.

We were able to purchase eggs, and Kuna bread, and the coastal trade boats stop here to buy the coconuts and they also purchase aluminum cans – pop or beer. So if you go here, save your cans to give to the Kuna instead of throwing them away.
Pablo and his wife run a small hotel at one end of the island and here is the web site:
The airport is a short walk on the mainland side and comes every day at 7 am.

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