Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | January 15, 2013

Mayo for Mulatupu

Western Lemmon Cays, Kuna Yala
N 9 38.2 W 78 53.4.

12/24/12 – Mulatupu.

Yesterday we moved to Soskandup, near the village of Mulatupu. We picked our way around the reefs thankful for our guide book but also trying to figure out the advice of another cruiser who had run aground here. We decided not to go into the Mulatupu anchorage as it was getting cloudy again and there were more reefs to navigate. We set the hook and on the third try finally got stuck, although in deeper water than we wished. The carpet is on deck drying and the boat slowly returning to order.

On Christmas Eve morning we are greeted with a cheerful “Feliz Navidad!!!” Four Kuna men in a medium sized panga with a 4 HP Yamaha engine approach to chat. The vessel is captained by “Mr. Green” from the village of Mulatupu. They explained that there are Catholic, Baptist and Evangelical members of their village and there would be a big celebration tonight.

Mr. Green spoke three languages – Kuna, Spanish and a little English that he was studying with the town teacher Simon. We were told there are two separate villages here – Mulatupu and Sasardi – each with their own chiefs. Mr. Green suggested not bringing the Mar Azul into the anchorage close to town, telling us about a boat similar to ours that had run into trouble while trying to enter the reef-lined harbor.

They asked if we could give them any wine or rum for the Christmas celebration. I hesitated, knowing my supply was limited, but then remembered some red French box wine from St. Martin that was not one of my favorites and risked being pitched anyway. It was not the greatest gift – especially since it may well have turned vinegary by this point – but it would have to do. Bob reminded me we were not here to supply the Kunas but I have a hard time saying “no” when we have so much and they have so little. Anyway, it was a nice opportunity to talk with the locals and learn a little more about their life here. Plus the “Feliz Navidad” made my day and got me in the spirit to bake some Christmas cookies.

Gomez, a gentleman I placed at our age or a little older paddled up for a visit in the afternoon. We had noted that we didn’t see many older people in Anachucuna and wondered if they just aged especially well – or not – or if perhaps the most elderly simply stayed inside their huts. He was pleased that I spoke Spanish and told me about a visiting boat very similar to ours where the captain and crew spoke not a word of Spanish – nada – imagine that! They had to bring in a Panamanian translator although I wasn’t sure why they would need to do that.

Gomez said there were 1000 people on the island, 800 in Mulatupu and 200 in Sasardi. Today’s events would include a big fiesta with food and beer. Although not too much beer as he said alcohol is normally prohibited. I didn’t ask about the Kuna puberty celebrations to celebrate a young woman’s coming of age where intoxication is required according to an anthropologist who studied Mulatupu many years ago.

Gomez wanted mayonnaise to make salads. I was not anxious to spare any so early in our San Blas stay. The Captain would kill me if I ran out of his favorite condiment and there were many sandwiches to make and burgers to garnish before the next supermarket. I remembered some restaurant-variety small packets from the fridge that I knew we could spare and presented that very tiny offering.

Gomez told me about his granddaughter who was born blind and how he was so concerned for her well-being. There was no special assistance or medical evaluation available for her. I thought about how tough it would be for her growing up since she could not see to stitch the molas that are such an important part of the traditional life as a Kuna woman.

Gomez cautioned against traveling in the area without good sunlight, and I got the impression that perhaps it was the boat similar to ours that had gotten into trouble here as reported by Mr. Green. As with all of our visitors so far, he inquired how long we would be here. Then he checked the large wristwatch on his arm and said he needed to get home to help with holiday preparations and wished us good luck.

Small fireworks peppered the night as the Mulatupans celebrated. I checked my inventory spreadsheet and found there were 7 pouches of mayo aboard (in Colombia it is sold in strange plastic containers). I couldn’t help but feel guilty for not sharing more mayonnaise.


photo update 3/6/13:



Our “Feliz Navidad” visitors were happy with the gift of wine


The large village of Mulatupu in the distance



  1. Hi Bob And Elaine,
    I have been tracking your Blog for almost 2 years now and love it and always look for your updates on my email. I have posted it on my website forum and face book. I have a Defever 43′ “Island Defever” that made almost the same Passage 2001-2004. I am looking forward on taking her again in about 2 years if I can get sombody to go with me on trip. Your Discriptions and Photos are great. Thanks for the entertainment and keep them coming

    • Hi Michael! Good to hear from you and glad you are enjoying the blog. It’s been a fun way to try to capture and share the joys and the challenges of doing something like this. Any tips on the path ahead? The plan is to depart Panama in April and this last segment is looming as perhaps the toughest. We will need to keep up a quicker pace to get back to FL by summer. Good luck with your future voyage plans! Hope we can catch up with you in the future – perhaps at a Defever Rendezvous. – Elaine & Bob

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