03.18.2012 - 03.19.2012
Before getting to Panama I had found out on line about photoworkshops attended by travellers going to Central America and thought that it would be a good thing for me to try: do some "photo" practicing with a professional, go visit the beautiful islands of the Kuna Yala indios and do it with a group of people.
Infact I like to take pictures and have some decent amatorial gears, but yet I never get out there and take photos.
So after some research I found out about a workshop in San Blas held by Jose' Angel Murillo, and it was also the most affordable one.
At first I was a little skeptical about doing something without much information: not knowing the photographer nor the people attending.
But after all, when deciding to start this trip by myself, I had accepted to be opened minded, more outgoing and enterpreising.
I finally registered and called Murillo(the photographer) the day before leaving. He then promptly invited me to join him and his wife to visit some friend in Casco Viejo(few blocks from where I was staying) to get to know each other and breack the ice etc. After all I was a stranger to them and so were they to me and yet we were gonna spend 2 days together: taking photos, eating and sleeping together. I thought that invite was a good opportunity that I could not refuse nor I wanted to.
So friday evening he picked me up and went over to his friend's place.
They almost were all professional photographers, there were about 10 people. Also Sivia was there, an italian photographer who had moved to Panama over 30 years ago.
I had right away a great welcome, we sat and chatted in italian with Sivia, in broken spanish and in english. we drank beers and ate great bbqued meat.
Murillo had told me we would hang out there for just a couple of drinks and then head to his place to show where hi lives so that I could get there easyly the next morning at 5.00 am, the time of the departure.
We got his friend's at 7.30 pm and left at 1.30 am shitfaced (not me, I did have a buzz, but just that, as I don't usually dring a lot).
So Patrizia, Murillo's wife suggested that we'd pick up my luggage, bring it over to their place, sleep there and be already at the meeting point by the leaving time.
I thought the whole thing was very nice: they invited me to a party, they gave to me drinks and food, they let me sleep at their place as if I was an old friend of their's.
2 and a half hours later, the attendees of the workshop showed up and obviously we weren't ready, I guess the alarm did not go off or Murillo just forgotten to set it up.
We ended up leaving after 6.30 am, I think.
After a 2 hour ride we finally got to a lush mountainous region showing the most various and intense hues of green that lead us all the way to the boat where we embarked bound to the San Blas archipelago.
We finally got to the tiny Corbisky Island on which there is a family ran lodging facility: it's just a bungalow with 4 bedrooms and a sharing bathroom (a real one, not one of those built at the end of a wooden walkway on stilts further into the water that the indigenous use, where you sit on a toilette seat nailed to a hole through which you see the ocean, and your body wastes falls right in the ocean. Here is an example
The shower was a barrel filled with water and a scoop to get washed and rinsed, but yet it all worked just fine. This is what it is in San Blas, maybe on some other island they have some extra luxuries, but yet not that much difference. After all in Panama City as well the sewage system drains right into the bay and there is almost nowhere hot water. Actually you only find 1 knob, the cold water one, which is not that cold anyway.
So we got all the gear ready and went out taking photos.
And we took photos and photos and photos and more photos going from island to island.
I looked at the beautiful ocean and craved to dive right in, but no, we were there on a different mission: we had to take photos.
As a matter of fact, even though I had thought that I would have found some time to get away from the shooting, I found myself caught up into taking picture and actually that day never went into the water.
Infact there was so much material to shoot.
The colorful traditional dresses of the Kuna women, the interesting face features, the kids playing, the various colors of the ocean, their primitive architectures.
The second day, after weaking up at 4.30 to take picture at dawn, we were told that finally we'd go look for an island where we'd sattle and enjoiy the beach and the ocean for few hours before leaving.