Las Estrellas

So I have had no time to do anything close to keeping up with my travels and still have huge gaps on here. I am currently waiting in Hostel Luna’s Castle, a strange yet wonderful place of colonnial architecture and period pieces, reminding me of Howl’s moving one with all sorts of wonders hiding in its little nooks and crannies.

I have spent a little over 2 weeks in Panama, and returned yesterday from an amazing trip to the San Blas. I want to take the time to write fully on my visit and the Indians I spoke to, but I leave for Tocumen International airport in 45 minutes and don’t really have the time.

I just bought a woven jaguar mask, made by the women of the Embera Indian tribes of the Darien Province – yes, very Gap Yah I know. I plan to hang in on the wall next to the carved Mayan spirit mask I bought from Chichicastenango. I am willing to admit they are kind of scary looking, the ugly sort of wall decorations you see in the houses of perpetual travellers, “this is a wall hanging from Eastern Tibet, its a symbol of fertility” etc etc. I can’t help it though! I swear the air here makes you start talking like a nobber.

When I first reached Bocas del Toro I was disappointed by how touristy the islands there were, full of drunken youths, after all, it is where EVERYONE who’s anyone goes in Panama. Recovering from the mugging, in a little hotel off the main Plaza on Isla Colon however, I fell in love with the place. Our hotel had a tank which contained an indigenous python of about 4 feet in length, and its little friend, a resident bright red poison dart frog. I call them friends, only because reason they agreed to live together because the python can’t eat the frog without being poisoned and dying, so its an uneasy truce.

We took a bus ride to the most beautiful beach on a bluff towards the top of Colon island, it was called, “la playa de las estrellas,” and when you get there, it is easy to see why. Hundreds of bright red, orange and yellow starfish of considerable size make the shallow crystalline water of the tideline their home. We spent hours in the scorching midday heat picking up the poor helpless creatures for our own amusement, being cautious not to take them fully out of the water however, as that can kill them. I modelled a very fetching mermaid-esque bikini, and we toiled for ages trying to arrange them in shapes on the sea floor for photos, only to find they sure can move when they want to. A heart shape would just be perfected when all of a sudden it would start to warp, and before long become an unrecognisable flurry of stars. A starfish held on the palm, would entirely envelop the hand, and although they were hard and spiny to the initial touch, they would begin to go flaccid as you held them, their bodies adjusting to the contours of your hand.

Starfish Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama

If held for too long, they would begin to send out small inquisitive sucker probes, testing and exploring their new resting ground, suckering gently onto the skin. It felt extremely bizarre, and we screeched in shock and hurried to get them back into the water. Small gelatinous orange blobs were left behind on our hands, I have no idea if this was a defense mechanism or what, but it was very strange.

I have to leave now and catch my flight, bon voyage, hopefully I will be able to update more from Mexico!

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