The San Blas Islands, off the coast of Panama are minimalistic, cramped, and outdated. Our ship shuttled passengers to and fro to experience an “authentic” Panamanian island. I have nothing against natives living in their traditional ways, going about their business as they have done for generations. What irks me is when it is a front put on for tourists to think they have encountered something unique and real.
Who’s to say if I am right? What I have heard though is that the island we stopped at is for show. That people may live there but many come over in the mornings to make the island look as though it is fully functioning and self-sufficient. Something seems a little off though when you glance in a traditional straw thatched hut and see cartoons flashing across a modern television screen; when you look up at a beautiful tree and see next to it a satellite antenna; and when you turn your back and one of the traditionally dressed locals’ phone starts to ring. I’m just not sure. I don’t mean to sound hostile or judgmental, I just don’t appreciate it when people offer up their cultures for money.
The temperature reached staggering heights and paired itself with a shocking humidity. Cruisers returned to the ship with backpack-shaped sweat marks and lobster-red features. We were told that swimming at the island is not advisable as it contains garbage and runoff, yet it was extremely tempting to do so. In the end, we wandered around the tiny island and snapped a few photos before returning to the ship to cool off. Neither of us has acclimatized to the hot weather yet. Just a week and a half ago we were frozen in Nova Scotia!