Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 7- Back to Reality

With not enough room available on the first plane, Emma and Marc had to catch the next one

Another small plane

As per usual, we were up with the sun, this time to catch our plane out of the Kuna world and into modern civilisation. Not all of us were really sure if we were ready to go back to modern culture (the Kuna live in paradise and seem unwaveringly happy), but strings had been pulled and the flights had been arranged. As our little plane climbed it became more evident just how lucky we had been to come aground where we did. We’d been told that there were over 300 uninhabited islands along this coast, so for us to come aground an easy hour’s walk from a mainland village was incredible. What people didn’t mention were the countless shallow reefs that lay scattered from the shore to a couple of kilometres out to sea. From the air, we could see random waves breaking in the middle of nowhere; if we’d rammed into one of those rock shelves we would have been in really serious trouble. It was staggering to think that we had silently and unknowingly threaded our way through a minefield of islands and rock outcrops; I’m sure if we tried we could not have crashed anywhere more ideal.

There were plenty of chances for much worse outcomes

Uncrashed ships

We hopped up the coast, at one point picking up the Japanese couple that had elected to fly rather than take an un-air-conditioned yacht where high-heels were forbidden. They were understandably stunned to hear our story, and quite relieved to have flown over the Gap. We passed over the San Blas Islands, where we saw little flocks of successful yachts moored peacefully in bays and inlets- no doubt full of happy people and adept captains. Then overland and into Panama City, where Western Civilisation is in glittering full swing. We had taken off over towns of stick-walled huts and dirt paths, and as we came into land we passed over geometric housing estates and generic clusters of seaside highrises, freeways and shopping malls.


The airport that we left from was a strip of concrete running through a grassy field. The airport we landed in was disturbingly clean and right-angled, with coffee-shops, uniforms, shiny tiles and huge panes of glass. It was a spectacle that I felt a little strange to be thrust into so suddenly. This final leg of our journey linked the two most contrasting places I’ve been to. The background music and fluorescent lights felt incredibly confronting, and the Kuna ladies scattered about the airport in their traditional clothes added to the weirdness of the whole scene.

We gulped coffee and muffins while we waited for the hostel car to come pick us up; we were back in the real world. Sending un unlicensed driver to somewhere heavily traffic-policed (like an airport pickup point) was not a good move on the part of our hostel, and added another good chunk of waiting time. While the driver was copping it, we jumped into taxis and went to the hostel. With a moderately warm shower and mass submission to the siren song of the TV, the adventure was over.


1 comment:

rpisces11 said...

Hilarious story. Loved it. Get that screenplay flowing!


(I may be in Guate soon)