Maya’s Birthday Foundation

Maya’s Birthday Foundation

Maya

Maya

In one month is Maya’s birthday. At the end of October she will turn twelve. Her last year of childhood before entering into the murky bizarre waters of teenagerhood…

Maya

Maya

She has been a good kid this past year, enjoying life at sea, making new friends everywhere we go, helping around the boat (especially while sailing), doing boat-school (painful at times, like any other school), hunting the streets of the world for ice cream, cleaning beaches from garbage, and learning tons of new stuff just from traveling around.

In the past year she learned to windsurf, to scuba-dive and to play the piano, besides all math stuff, Spanish language, Latin American History and Geography, and other boring school things. She is now training for long distance runs and goes jogging every other day for 5km.

Maya

Maya

She started preparing for and expecting with anxiety her birthday three months in advance, like she does every year, announcing how many days left every morning, evening, and sometimes in-between (which is not fun for her dad and me, not fun at all!)

She has also made a list of presents she would like for her birthday, and as the list grew longer, we got the idea to do an experiment and create a “Maya’s Birthday Foundation” so that YOU can have the opportunity to help fund some of the gifts and cake.

Maya

Maya

Here is how you can get Maya a birthday gift this year:

We will accept 5 and 10-dollar donations (or more if you feel exceptionally generous) via PayPal through our blog and our Facebook page for the next month, which will be entirely for Maya’s birthday gifts and celebration. The more donations we get, the more gifts she will get, the grander the celebration, and it will be ALL thanks to YOU! Maya will then make thank-you cards for each of you with drawings and photos of her and the gifts!

We will be listing periodically the names of the contributors (unless you indicate, that you prefer to be anonymous), the amount of each individual donation, and towards which gift it will go to.

The donations should be completely voluntary. It is easier to make a smaller rather than larger donation, so don’t feel bad to send us only 5 dollars. And in case we do not receive a single donation in the next month, which is a possibility, we promise to still buy Maya a gift, a cake and have a nice birthday celebration!

Maya

Maya

We have always tried to keep the buying of new stuff to the absolute minimum and to consume less. Long before we moved on the boat, we would celebrate Maya’s birthdays with her friends in the neighborhood, sending out birthday invitations indicating that the gifts they should bring should be USED toys and books, all stuff her friends are tired of and don’t want anymore, but Maya would like. Thus we hoped to limit the buying of new plastic toys and to teach Maya and her little friends that reusing and recycling is important and can be fun. In this spirit, you will see that most of the things she wants for her birthday this year (but not all) are things she really needs.

Here is a list with gift ideas which Maya put together herself long time ago:

Steps to install on our mast for her to be able to climb up the mast (she really loved doing this on our friends’ boat, and now she wants mast steps for her birthday!)

6 month membership for Animal Jam (an online National Geographic game she loves)

New snorkeling gear: flippers, mask and snorkel.

A few new Littlest Pet Shops (small plastic toy-animals she plays with on the boat)

A new bathing suit (the two-part one with sailing pattern, or the full black one we saw in the store in Panama)

A big chocolate cake with strawberries and pizza

A new diary notebook

Hiking shoes

Colored paper and markers for arts and crafts

New cotton bed sheets

Windsurf or surf

New cool sunglasses

Thank you all for following and commenting, for getting involved and supporting our journey and way of life! To donate, click on the DONATE button or follow this link.

Maya

Maya

 

Donations:

1. Ventsislav Georgiev                        $10   for new snorkeling gear

2. Zdravko Simeonov                         $10   gifts

                             3. Petar Ivanov                                    $10   for pizzzaaaa

                             4. Iliyana Koleva                                 $10    gifts

                             5. Garth and Monique Williamso    $11     steps for the mast or surf

                             6. Carl Robinson                                 $10    gifts

                             7. Anonymous                                     $10    new hiking shoes

                             8. Pavel Vachkov                                $20    gifts

                             9. Anonymous                                     $10    gifts

                           10. Media 1 LTD                                    $20   gifts

                           11. Kiril Bozhinov                                  $10    gifts

                           12. Dani&Denyu Bostandzhiev          $100  gifts

                           13. Pascal Pascalev                               $10    gifts

                           14. Anonymous                                     $30   gifts

                           15. Doncho Donev                                $20   for snorkeling gear

                          16. Deian Dimitrov                                $15   gifts

                           17. Vera Nikiforova                               $10   gifts

                           18. Mitko Dimitrov                               $10   gifts

                           19.  Silviya Pavlova                               $10    gifts

                           20. Boyko Ivanov                                 $10   for snorkeling gear

                           21. Krasimira Raycheva                      $20 for gifts

                           22. Vera Boyadzhieva                          $30 for gifts

                           23. Dimitar Milenkov                          $50 for gifts

                           24.  Mihayl Zamfirov                           $100 for gifts

                           25. Milkana Nentcheva                       $20 for gifts

                          26. Robert Stewart @sarangyoga      $10 for gifts

                          27. Ivelina Saltova                                $10 for gifts

                          28. Boryana Pavlova                            $10 for gifts

                          29. Zornitza Beraha                             $50 chocolate cake§strawberries

                         30. Gergana Ermenkova                      $10 for a surf

                         31. Monika and Darin                           $5 for gifts

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Total      $661.00

 

 

This year Maya’s birthday was filled with joy and happiness, and tons of presents, like never before, thanks to all of you, dear friends! Thank you!

Read Fun and Gifts for Maya’s Birthday.

 

 

 

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Spider Monkeys on Linton Island

Spider Monkeys on Linton Island

Spider Monkeys on Linton Island

Spider Monkeys on Linton Island

A month after we arrived in San Blas Archipelago of Panama we are ready to continue our journey. Together with our new boat-friends on S/V Anka we sail to Colon where all ships and boats have to stop for a few days and get ready to cross the Panama Canal.

On the way to Colon we decide to stop overnight at Isla Linton. It’s over 50 nautical miles from Cayos Holandes in San Blas to Linton and in favorable weather conditions it can be a pleasant day sail. We start at 06:00h in the morning on June 27th with 6-10 knot north winds on a beam reach and 2-3 meter waves. The wind picks up a bit to 10-14 knots around 09:00h, and with the current in our direction we are doing steady 6 knots. Anka is within sight slightly behind us at all times. The two boats are sailing with the same speed which makes it ideal for buddy-boating. We keep contact on the VHF radio and Adrian announces that this stretch of sea between San Blas and Linton is his favorite sail since ages: ideal wind strength and angle, the waves not too big and nervous, a beautiful sunny day at sea.

We love it too. We catch two tunies. The first one is small and we decide to release it and give it a chance to grow up, but the second one we keep for lunch that day.

Ivo got a fish

Ivo got a fish

At 16:00h in the afternoon we round the small cape, tall and rocky, at the entrance of a big calm hidden bay and we drop anchor among a population of about thirty other boats in a large pool of deep murky water protected by wind and swell from all directions.

Cape at the entrance of the bay to Isla Linton

Cape at the entrance of the bay to Isla Linton

We kayak to the small beach on Isla Linton- an uninhabited island with hills covered in thick green vegetation. There is an abandoned building ashore reclaimed by nature that was once a research station of some sort but today is an empty ruin invaded by spiders and a family of spider monkeys. Linton is The Monkey’s Island, their home and their prison.

Isla Linton, Spider Monkey

Isla Linton, Spider Monkey

We spot a couple of spider monkeys up in the palm trees as we approach the shore and surely they have spotted us too. One is hanging from a palm leaf in a rather bizzare position, holding on with arms and tail, its legs dangling in the air.

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The other is sitting comfortably in his throne of green with a tragic expression on his face.

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We are super scared to approach them, especially after our friends aboard S/V Amelie-4 had such an awful misadventure here only a few months ago. Meagan, 12-years old, was bringing fruits to feed the monkeys and was on the island with her mom when one of the monkeys grabbed her hand and viciously bit it to the bone. She had to go to a hospital for stitches and treatment, as there was no telling if the monkey was rabid or not. The family’s sailing trip was in jeopardy, as Meagan’s life was at stake. But fortunately, the girl didn’t get infected by any disease, the wound healed well, and they continued their journey at sea crossing the Panama Canal, visiting Mach Picchu in Peru, sailing to Galapagos, crossing the Pacific Ocean, spending a few unforgettable months in French Polynesia, heading to Fiji right now.

Maya and a Spider Monkey, Isla Linton

Maya and a Spider Monkey, Isla Linton

Knowing what happened to Meagan, we are keeping our distance and moving very slowly keeping an eye on the monkeys at all times once we step on the beach. The monkeys get excited, barking and screaming and swinging from branch to branch, but as soon as they spot the mango and banana pieces we have brought they descend down from the palms and approach us to get their treats.

Spider Monkey walking like a man

Spider Monkey walking like a man

Walking upright towards us like a little man dragging his very long arms almost touching the ground beside him, the spider monkey is a surreal looking creature.

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With disproportionately long and thin arms and legs, equipped with a tail that is almost like a fifth arm, covered in black fur, and with a human expression on their faces, these are the descendants of the third unsuccessful attempt of the Mayan Gods to create people, according to Popol Vuh. The next “successful” attempt is us, the humans of today.

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The spider monkeys are one of the largest New World monkeys, the most intelligent New World monkeys, and one of the critically endangered species in the world.

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They live in bands and families occupying large areas of evergreen tropical forests from Mexico to Brazil. Their habitat continues to diminish due to deforestation, and their number continues to dwindle, as they are considered a tasty meal by local communities, hunted, killed and barbecued.

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Soon we get used to the creatures and they get used to us.

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The darker one with the warrior’s look on his face is nervous moving up and down the coconut palms, emitting his ungodly screams showing the dark interior of his mouth with big yellow teeth. He is the protector.

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The other one looks younger and has lighter brownish fur. He is very gentle and has the most melancholic heartbreaking expression, as if suffering from devastating nostalgia for the forests and freedom beyond this island.

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He sits motionless most of the time and accepts handouts with slow feminine gestures from Ivo’s hands.

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As we are getting ready to leave, a third monkey rushes towards the beach from the shadows of the forest. This one would be the Father or the Chief. His fur is grey at places and full of scars, his face is fierce, his look is provocative. Don’t mess with me! We immediately sentence him as The One Who Bit Meagan and leave his kingdom in a hurry.

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The spider monkeys of Linton Island have become the local tourist attraction. Cruisers passing through dinghy to shore to bring them fruit and take their picture, which doesn’t bother them much, but in the afternoon organized excursions from the nearby town of Portobello bring hordes of tourists who scream at them from the small crowded motorboats like paranoid savages until the animals become very irritated and start jumping up and down the trees, swinging from the palm leafs, and screaming back at the tourists, which is what they are paying for and amuses them a lot. Seeing this most perverse situation was disturbing and disgusting: humans acting worse than the animals, no respect whatsoever, stressing and torturing the monkey-prisoners of the island for money and for fun.

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Motorboats bring tourists to see and irritate the monkeys on Isla Lonton

I imagined someone saving them and releasing them on Panama’s mainland to be free, but then they would be in danger of being captured and eaten… Who are we “the successful people, created in the image of the Mayan Gods”; what have we become ?

Tourists

Tourists

About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page: Facebook/TheLifeNomadik

 

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Friends from S/V Anka

Friends from S/V Anka

Alex, Krisha and Adrian aboard S/V Anka

Alex, Krisha and Adrian aboard S/V Anka

One day in June I get a message, thanks to our blog, from Krisha, a Bulgarian woman who writes that she, her husband Adrian from Rumania and their 10-years-old son Alex are buying a sailboat named S/V Anka-1 in Curacao and sailing it to Australia, where they live since four years. “We are in San Blas and you are sailing from Curacao to Panama, so if you have any time to spare, it will be great to meet you! You will not lose much, as the deviation from your route is just a few miles and the place is worth it; surely you will like the San Blas Islands and we would love to get to know you!” , I write back.

They don’t have any time to lose. They have to hurry up and sail from Curacao directly to Panama, then from Panama across the biggest ocean in world to French Polynesia and on to Australia in just four months, almost at the beginning of typhoon season.

Anka and fata Morgana in the same anchorage in San Blas

Anka and fata Morgana in the same anchorage in San Blas

Yet, five days after they left Curacao Anka-1 shows up in our anchorage in San Blas and we become instant friends, thanks to Alex who is a kind of kid that starts talking to you as if he knows you since ages, thanks to Krisha who is the sweetest person, always smiling and giving gifts, and thanks to Adrian, who is the funniest guy and can make you laugh even if you are in a bad mood; even if Ivo is in a bad mood (which is worst).

Ivo and Adrian aborad S/V Anka

Ivo and Adrian aborad S/V Anka

Adrian is from Rumania but he used to live in Bulgaria and he speaks Bulgarian fluently with a very cute accent, using all sorts of funny words, sayings, curse words and baby words. It’s amusing just listening to him. And the stories he has to tell are priceless. His life, starting from early childhood in Rumania, is an action-adventure epic saga (based on a true story) in which the academy award for best supporting artist would go to his father, or Sean Connery who would be the best actor for the role. But Adrian asked me not to reveal too many details, as he is planning to tell his own story himself one day, so I will just share with you a passage from their blog as told by his wonderful wife and first mate- Krisha at Anka Travels:

Adrian is from a city deep in the Romanian country, around 400 km away from the coast of the Black Sea. His family didn’t have the chance to visit the seaside very often during the communist regime at that time. One of his first memories of the Black Sea, was when his father Marius Albu took him to the beach and asked him – “What do you see”, “I see water” Adrian replied, “No” – he said – That is your passport to freedom.” During the regime, Marius was able to build his first 6m sailing boat, which was illegal in Romania at the time, where people weren’t allowed to have passports, buy maps, or go abroad freely. In 1989, when Adrian was 14 years old, Marius took his son and secretly fled from the regime aboard the Phoenix, through the Black Sea, Turkey and then Greece. That was Adrian’s first sailing experience. Since then, sailing for him wasn’t a recreational choice, it was a way of life.

After 8 years spent in Greece, Adrian and his father left with Phoenix once again to sail to the Caribbean, where they parted ways. While Adrian spent a few years in Trinidad & Tobago, purchased his own sailing boat-Maove and sailed through the Pacific to Australia, his father continued his circumnavigation to become the first Romanian, who sailed around the world under the Romanian flag.

In the winter of 2002, Adrian had a car accident where his ankle was broken into pieces and he wasn’t able to walk for a year. Unfortunately, he had to sell his boat in Australia and return to Romania to recover. Shortly after his full recovery in 2004, he was invited to participate in the Odysail regatta, as a skipper on the Phoenix. The same regatta, that changed both of our lives.

During this time, I as working as an Art Director in an advertising agency in Sofia and I thought my life and career were set in the right direction. My father, Yancho Barakov- also a wild dreamer and believer, similar to Marius built his first 10m sailing boat during the Communist regime in Bulgaria. For 10 years the construction took place in the parking lot in front of our apartment building in the small city called Yambol, 100km away from the seaside. In the year 2000, with the boat construction experience he had, and even more courage, he began work on his second 12m yacht – Barracuda. The boat was ready in four years and in 2004 he was invited to participate in the same regatta – the Odysail. Despite being around boats all my life, I hadn’t had much experience in sailing, so for me that was all new, exciting and a bit scary at times and to be honest it still is.

This is when I, as part of the crew on my father`s 12m yacht Barracuda, met Adrian. It was a romantic love story that could have only happened at sea. A year later, we were married and our son Alex was born. Since then almost every summer we sailed from Bulgaria to Greece as we never get tired of the beauty of the Mediterranean.

In 2011, we moved to Australia where we have been living and working for the past four years.

In November 2014, Adrian once again joined his father aboard the Phoenix and they sailed for 45 days through the roaring South Pacific, from New Zealand to Chile to conquer the Everest of the sailors – Cape Horn. For four months they sailed through beautiful fiords and glaciers, anchoring near icebergs. They had reached Porto Williams, the most south port in the world, the final stop before the cape, but unfortunately the weather was closing and Adrian had to leave the crew, as he was running out of time before the hurricane season starts in the Caribbean. In his mind, the vision of Anka and his own voyage was already taking shape.

*Read more about their adventures and follow them @ AnkaTravels.com

Powerful stuff, isn’t it…. And the details including tragedies at sea, escape from Turkish prison for refugees, and a number of other fortunate and misfortunate events told and reenacted in the cockpit of Fata Morgana over some beers, Adrian’s famous beef tail soup, and Mira’s homemade bread- unforgettable…

Krisha taking a bread-making lesson from Mira aboard Fata Morgana

Krisha taking a bread-making lesson from Mira aboard Fata Morgana

We take them to our favorite anchorage at Cayo Hollandes for a couple of days, and to the small island to get some molas from our Kuna friends. Adrian even finds time and tools to help the local Kunas fixing one of their old ulu’s. We spend a few days together in San Blas, and the evenings we share beers, stories and food.

Anka arriving in San Blas, Cayos Hollandes

Anka arriving in San Blas, Cayos Hollandes

Maya and Alex become inseparable, watching films, playing games, or being bored together when they “have nothing to do”. And just like that, spontaneously, we decide to cross the Panama Canal with S/V Anka, to extend the time with them. Our plans to stay in San Blas until September just changed! We are leaving the next day together with our new best boat-friends Anka!

Maya and Alex

 

Playing dominoes.

Playing dominoes.

Playing cards.

Playing cards.

Discussing the world.

Discussing the world.

Playing video-games.

Playing video-games.

Taking the kayak for a ride.

Taking the kayak for a ride.

Reading about bugs.

Reading about bugs.

Giggling.

Giggling.

Making art.

Making art.

Watching films.

Watching films.

Watching very funny films.

Watching very funny films.

 

Just hanging out while being bored.

Just hanging out while being bored.

....or is this yoga?

….or is this yoga?

About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page: Facebook/TheLifeNomadik

 

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Kitesurfing in San Blas

Ivo and his kite

Ivo and his kite

Most of the 360 islands of the San Blas Archipelago are near Panama’s mainland and away from the trade winds. But there are a few outer island groups near the barrier reefs to the north still getting the effects of the trades and these are the island you want to visit if you are going to San Blas to kitesurf. The best spot with fields of waist-deep clear water, sandy bottom and sweet east winds is at Cayo Holandes island group, near the anchorage nicknamed by cruisers The Swimming Pool.

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There is a $10 anchoring fee valid for one month and a Kuna man named Viktor will swing by in his ulu (a dugout canoe) to collect it as soon as you drop anchor. No matter how long you are planning to stay you have to pay 10 bucks. Almost everywhere you go in Kuna Yala (San Blas) you will have to pay a few dollars for anchoring near an island or for stepping on it. To Ivo this was very disturbing, especially after we paid the record amount of $430 for 1-year visas for Panama and a cruising permit, plus a separate $60 fee paid to the Kuna Yala Office on the island of Porvenir for anchoring anywhere in Kuna Yala territory. In two years of cruising and visiting over 30 countries we have never been required to pay so much when checking-in in a new country. So Ivo just couldn’t grasp the logic of having to pay again and again and again and again almost every time we drop anchor or we go ashore in San Blas. And Ivo can get very negative when it comes to ‘unfair’. But it’s not just this.

One day we kayak to a small uninhabited island bringing only a photo camera, sunscreen, and a towel. There we see a few huts currently in construction, an ulu and two Kuna men on the beach. One talks politely with us, explaining how much a traditional ulu costs and how it is made up in the mountains on the mainland by masters ulu-makers. I ask if I can take a picture of this canoe and he says sure. But then the other guy approaches and asks for a dollar for photographing his friend’s ulu. Then he says that each one of us has to pay $3 for stepping on the island- a total of $10 for 3 people + 1 picture, he quickly calculates (even though Ivo and Maya remain in the kayak and technically never set foot on land). He gives us as an example he obviously used many times before: “If you go to a restaurant and order food you have to pay for it at the end, and similarly you have to pay for stepping on the island and taking a picture of the ulu.” I try to argue politely that this is totally unexpected for us, that I had permission to take the picture from the ulu’s owner, that we have no intention of stepping on the island, and that we don’t have any money on us right now. The two guys then search very thoroughly my bag, where they find a towel and sunscreen, and when they don’t find any money, they are very disappointed and tell us to leave. But first they explain, that to them “all white people are gringos (rich Americans) and they have to pay.” Ivo is furious; I can see fire coming out of his nostrils. But he manages not to kill anyone. We leave.

I’m including this information, because we have heard that people have been asked to pay up to $100 for permission (or rather for a fine) to kitesurf near some of the islands in Kuna Yala. At Cayo Hollandes you are welcome to kitesurf for as much as you want and with no additional charge, as long as you pay your $10 anchoring fee.

Thus, after Aruba, where Ivo took his first kitesurfing lessons, this was the next spot where he could practice and improve his new skills. At the beach we meet two other guys kitesurfing which always doubles the fun.

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About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page

Facebook/TheLifeNomadik

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Two Years of Sailing Anniversary

Two Years of Sailing Anniversary

In July 2015 we celebrated the beginning of our third year of cruising and sailing around the world. As if it was yesterday when we moved aboard our new floating home in Key West (Florida)- a 38-foot Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana, and sailed south. Two years is not much, yet so many things happened in those first 24 months, it’s incredible!

We sailed for over 8,000 NM, with 5.7 kt average speed, visiting over 30 countries and 100 islands. We fueled 150 gallons the first year and 10 gallons the second for a total of 160 gallons of fuel taken in two years! We caught and ate a lot of fish and tried many new foods.

Fata Morgana sailing wing-on-wing

Fata Morgana sailing

In July 2013 we sailed to Dry Tortugas where we met a small group of scientists researching sea turtles and we volunteered to help them excavate and count hatched turtle eggs.

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Fort Jefferson, Florida

Next, we crossed the mighty Gulfstream to Havana (Cuba) where we met some very poor people and we almost starved to death.

Viktor, Maya, and Ivo walking with bug-repellent palm leaf hats, Cuba This is how we showed up at the beach.

Viktor, Maya, and Ivo walking with bug-repellent palm leaf hats, Cuba
This is how we showed up at the beach.

In August 2013 we visited Isla Mujeres in Mexico for a couple of weeks, and we checked the Mayan ruins of Tulum.

Mira in Tulum

Mira in Tulum, Mexico

September and October 2013 we spent with new awesome friends in Rio Dulce (Guatemala) going on many crazy adventures. We jumped from a hot-water waterfall, we swam in a dark cave, we crawled in a huge canyon tied with ropes, we met howler monkeys, and we were the first white visitors to enter a cave full of human skulls in Sierra de las Minas Mountains.

The boulder.

With friends in Boqueron Canyon, Guatemala

In November 2013, after surviving our first storm in the Yucatan Chanel, we returned to Key West to add more solar panels and lithium batteries to the boat, making her a unique off-grid vessel.

Viktor and Ivo installing solar panels.

Viktor and Ivo installing solar panels, Key West, Florida

In December 2013 we celebrated Christmas and New Year in the Bahamas enjoying some of the most beautiful turquoise waters and deserted beaches.

Mira, Bahamas

Mira, Bahamas

From January till March 2014 we were island-hoping in the Bahamas, and everywhere something new and exciting would happen. We met the swimming pigs and visited the Thunderbolt Grotto, we spent some quality time anchored at a private cruising ship island, we had friends visiting us, we helped to repair a hermitage damaged by a lightning, we went to the deepest saltwater blue hole in the world, we met a whale, we swam with dolphins and we shared an anchorage with hundreds of migrating flamingos.

Maya swimming with pigs

Maya swimming with pigs, Bahamas

In April 2014 we were in Luperon (Dominican Republic) for a month. We left the boat at anchor and rented a car to explore the island and its many attractions. We Climbed Pico Duarte- a two day hike with mules and a guide, we jumped down a river with 27 cascades, we went to Santo Domingo, we learned to surf in Cabarete with awesome new friends, we checked out the crocodiles in a lake lower than the sea, and we slept in some pretty weird motels and hostels.

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The Nomadiks at Damajaqua Cascades, Dominican Republic

In May and June 2014 we sailed around Puerto Rico and the US virgin Islands where we had friends staying with us again. We saw a WWII tank on the beach and training torpedoes underwater.

The Nomadiks & Friends at Caja de Muerto, Puerto Rico

The Nomadiks & Friends at Caja de Muerto, Puerto Rico

In July through August, September and October 2014 we sailed south the Eastern Caribbean island chain spending a few days in each island: BVI (snorkeling in The Baths was the best), Saba (an unusual tall and steep island with incredible history), St Martin (too many tourists, but great beer and cheese), St Barth (a luxurious stop for the rich and famous), St Kitts and Nevis (we hauled out the boat for a routine bottom job, we met Sejah, a local kid who took us to a small waterfall in the forest and we met green monkeys in an old fort), Montserrat (we visited the ruins of a capital destroyed by a volcano), Antigua and Barbuda (got drunk during carnival in Antigua and we made fire on a 12-mile deserted beach with pink sand in Barbuda. Here our son Viktor left for Canada and we continued our journey without him), Guadeloupe (hiked up an active volcano), Dominica (our favorite island, so many things to see and do! We snorkeled in bubbling underwater volcano, we hiked The Boiling Lake, and we found unlimited mangoes, avocadoes and bananas in the forest), Martinique(another volcano to conquer) and we stopped in Grenada, where we celebrated Maya’s birthday and Halloween with twenty other boat-kids.

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Boat Kids, Grenada

In November 2014 we sailed with our sailing buddies Mel and Caryn aboard S/V Passages to Trinidad and Tobago. There we saw the biggest pitch lake in the world, a temple in the sea, an abandoned leper colony, and we observed the scarlet ibis colonies on the Caroni river at sunset.

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Mira, Maya, Ivo in Tobago

December 2014 found us in Barbados, where Ivo ran his first 10 km marathon and we spend some quality time in amazing caves full of centipedes and blind spiders. We celebrated Christmas with friends and sea turtles in the Grenadines and the New Year found us back in St Martin where we met a cool Bulgarian-Italian family.

Maya and Robert at the beach, Grand Case

Maya and Robert at the beach, Grand Case, St Martin

In January 2015 we went back for some awesome reunion with old friends in the BVIs.

Ivo, Mira and Maya with Harley and April S/V El Karma

Ivo, Mira and Maya with Harley and April S/V El Karma in BVI

February and March 2015 we spent in Puerto Rico stocking up the boat with provisions and waiting for a window to sail to Aruba.

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Kayak expedition, Puerto Rico

April 2015 was like vacation in one of our favorite islands- Aruba. We befriended a great family who took us to some incredible places, and we learned to kitesurf and windsurf.

Maya Ivo and Mira in Aruba Мая Иво и Мира в Аруба

Maya Ivo and Mira in Aruba
Мая Иво и Мира в Аруба

May 2015 was all about Colombia- camping in Tayrona, visiting the capital Bogota by plane and its many tourist attractions, spending a few days in Cartagena.

Maya at Tayrona, Colombia

Maya at Tayrona, Colombia

June 2015 found is in the San Blas archipelago of Panama where the Kuna Indians live, our last Caribbean stop, before crossing to the Pacific Ocean.

Maya in San Blas

Maya in San Blas

In July 2015 we began our third consecutive year of cruising in Pacific Panama- new adventures are ahead of us. We are planning to visit many of the Central and South American countries by land- Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia) until April 2016, when we will begin the crossing of the biggest ocean in the world to Galapagos Islands and on to French Polynesia.

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

After two years, we have learned many new things about the world we have passed through, about sailing, cruising, fishing, and boat maintenance. We have become used to a more simple, more exciting and sometimes much more difficult way of life. We have everything we need and Fata Morgana has proven to be a worthy sailing vessel and a comfortable off-the-grid home. We have met and befriended hundreds of incredible people from all around the world from whom we have learned a lot and we hope to meet them again. Every new friend and every new experience has been a new lesson in the School of Life, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to be able to travel as we do.

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Maya and girlfriends in the Grenadines

We had some difficult moments too of course, some scary, sad and unfortunate moments, but we have managed to pull through, and today we continue. We are proud with the choices we have made and we are proud with the way we live our lives and the way we raise our daughter Maya. And we are curious and excited, as much as you may be, to find out what the future has in store for us.

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Fata Morgana with flamingos, Bahamas

Thank you all for the overwhelming interest and support you have demonstrated throughout this past 24 months, for liking, sharing, commenting, donating, asking questions, and giving us advice and encouragement along the way. Without YOU our journey wouldn’t be the same and we are happy to share it with YOU!

The adventure continues!

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The Nomadiks in San Blas

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Kuna Yala: Water

Water

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How many times have I written about “the small idyllic islands in San Blas with white sandy beaches and tall coconut palms, surrounded by crystal blue water and corral garden of exceptional beauty; where just a few Kuna families live in small huts near the shore fishing and collecting coconuts and wild mangoes”? How many times have I compared this place with “Paradise on Earth”? I dare anyone to find an article or a story or a blog post written by some other visitor in Kuna Yala who doesn’t think that these are the most beautiful of all Caribbean islands, and who doesn’t compare the place with “heaven”. A difficult task.

But one thing is visiting Paradise and enjoying its natural beauty for a short period of time, another thing is living in it, stuck for eternity with all sorts of problems which don’t exist back in the normal boring civilized world. Like nasty mosquitos and no-see-ums (which torture even the short-term visitors), lack of all sorts of facilities like hospitals, dentists, schools, banks, post offices, stores and shopping malls etc.; lack of electricity which means no TV, no computer, no refrigeration, not even lights in the evening. Can you imagine surviving without internet for a week? For a month? How about a year? Impossible! But even if you get used to this simplistic way of life, there is one thing that is missing and you, as well as the local Kuna Indians, will never learn to live without. Freshwater is not a commodity but a necessity, and it is a major problem in Kuna Yala Paradise.

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But the indigenous people have learned to cope with the situation and the lack of freshwater on the majority of the islands has become something almost normal. Generation after generation they have gone to the mainland rivers with their ulus (dugout canoes) to bring back to their riverless islands freshwater for drinking and washing; precious water which they have learned to appreciate, conserve and use vary carefully.

Washing the dishes

Washing the dishes

Everywhere we go we see plastic containers, jerricans, buckets and bottles piled around houses for water storage.

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All the time women and men are crisscrossing the waters between the islands and the many river deltas on mainland their ulus hauling loads of water supplies for their households.

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One Saturday we jump in the kayak for another river expedition up Rio Diablo near the twin islands of Nargana and Corazon de Jesus, which are heavily populated, hoping to see monkeys and caimans again.

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But instead we encounter lots and lots of Kuna families in their family ulus heading to the place where everyone is collecting water, taking a bath and washing their clothes directly in the river- a place that reminds us faintly of the Varanasi of the Ganges River in India. It is the weekend washing ritual.

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The water situation in Kuna Yala is different from island to island, depending on their location. The large overpopulated island communities are generally within less than a mile from mainland and from a river delta, so that the inhabitants are closer to freshwater and getting it is faster and easier.

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There is even one island where a pipe coming down from the river is supplying fresh river water to the islanders- Isla Rio Azucar (the Sugar River Island). They even sell water to cruisers who don’t have watermakers. You can go and fill up your boat’s tanks for 20$ at the dock.

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But the smaller outer islands are many miles away from mainland and rivers, and for their inhabitants detting freshwater is a bigger problem.

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For washing clothes, dishes and showering, they use the water from small waterholes dug in the sandy ground where seawater filters in and is less salty.

Ivo helping a Kuna women to get water from a waterhole

Ivo helping a Kuna women to get water from a waterhole

They also collect rainwater, even though we haven’t noticed any efficient rainwater collecting system, and regularly have to navigate great distances to collect river water which they boil for drinking back home.

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Because of this situation, the Kuna’s drinking and cooking water is sometimes infested with bacteria and they often suffer from poor hygiene related diseases.

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We become popular around these small island communities with our watermaker, and we give the Kuna Indians a few gallons of potable freshwater every time we have surplus. In exchange they give us mangos, avocados and bananas.

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Modern technology has already made its way into the Kuna Indians’ lives, yet they have managed to preserve to a large extend their traditional ways. We notice solar panels here and there on the smaller islands, and on the bigger ones with hundreds of inhabitants electricity through diesel generators is present since decades. But nothing much has changed regarding water, except that now they are aware of the existence of reverse osmosis machines which can turn seawater into freshwater and they are beginning to inquire more about it. Maybe in the not-so -distant future every Kuna community will have their solar power installation feeding with energy a watermaker producing enough freshwater to satisfy their needs in a completely ecological, self-sufficient way.

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Find previous stories from the blog about Kuna Yala:

Paradise at The End of The Sea 

Slums of Paradise

Children of The Moon 

Ulu Men. Cowboys of The Sea

Master Mola Makers

Rivers and Crocodiles

Nightmares in Paradise

 

About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page:

 

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