April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

McDonalds Boat Ride

We needed to be out on the Monday before Christmas to pick up Linda and Tabassum. The only ride for sure was Friday. It was paid for by a political person to take kids (and their moms) to McDonalds. We figured it wasn't really supporting a political figure, since the coordinator had never mentioned which politician it was, so we took it.

First, we were on a big boat. There were about 40 people, counting moms and kids. We were going against the current and the wind, and figured it would take four hours to get to port, since it was only a 40-hp motor. But about 45 minutes from the island, the motor totally died. They tossed the anchor so we wouldn't drift back to our island. Luckily April had brought an UNO deck, and so she taught a bunch of the mom's how to play.
(April teaching UNO to moms - and some kids, some of whom had already learned from us - as we wait for another boat or motor help)
After about an hour or so, a police boat returned and took some of the folks to port, including the coordinator of the trip. Then about half an hour later, a couple of fishermen from an island further south stopped by. They were headed to port and after chatting for a bit, agreed to take some of us, including April and I and our bags. They had the same size motor we'd started with, but a smaller, fiberglass, boat, so it was faster.

(Watching our first boat recede behind our new fast ride. One tip of our island is visible behind the boat.)

We moved along rapidly in boat number two. Then we saw the coordinator heading back south in an even faster boat, with a shade roof.

(Sisters Dianeth and Leidys on boat number two, the fast one)

Then boat number two ran out of gas. We drifted to the shore and waited. April asked if they ran out of gas because they had the added weight of six extra people. They said no, they wouldn't have made it to port anyway.

Ironically, the "taxi" boat guy we use sometimes happened by and sold a bit of fuel to the fishermen. So we started off again after only a twenty minute delay.

But we were within site of port when we spotted the faster boat gaining on us from behind.

(Our kind fishermen - you can tell we are close to port, they have their PFDs on - watching the rest of the kids and moms race up towards us)

Sure enough, just as we pulled into port proper, to the delight of all the kids who'd been left behind twice, the faster boat passed us. There was lots of laughing and pointing. But we'd all made it, and sure enough, it took four hours. Just not how we'd expected. And we still haven't figured out what happened to the first boat.