Month: December 2016

Until next time…

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Yesterday the Keck Family left to return to the US. Tanda Malaika is so quiet right now. I already miss them so much, their laughter, love and energy was wonderful to be immersed in for all that time. Their family is a perfect example of what family means…a Father who is dedicated to his wife and children, who has strong character and loves completely. Dave is solid, and an incredibly amazing individual. ZoAnne is a mother who loves her children unconditionally and is overflowing with endless goodness and optimism. A beautiful soul inside and out. She is also a dedicated an non judgmental friend to me, who has always been there through the good and the bad. Tyrell, Jake, Kalin, Kiffin and Kenedi are strong, respectful, loving and happy. They constantly asked how they could help me and were full of energy and happiness. The have amazing values and beliefs that they stand by and are so patients with people like me who have so much to learn. I can’t wait for them to return to Tanda Malaika!

Yesterday our sweet Jude turned 19. She is one of my all time favorite people and I am so honored to be her mom. I am so grateful to learn from her and witness her beautiful soul.

Danny is still away, and hasn’t flown yet. The airplane seems to still have some issues that are being worked on. Since he is in Orlando, he has been able to spend time with Ashley and Jordan, or Florida children, and has loved that. We have no idea when he will be back.
In the mean time the creatures and I will get some things done on Tanda Malaika today and continue to enjoy our beautiful surroundings.

Dodging monkeys and catching fish

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We’ve had an adventurous couple of days…but what’s new!?Danny had to leave for a few days to transport another airplane to Venezuela, so we set sail for Linton Bay Marina to check in and get a cruising permit.

Linton is a small quiet ‘town’ with brightly colored buildings lining the small islands.

Some of the homes look like they are about to fall into the ocean.

I had read about an island across from the marina that is owned by monkeys, and that there is a house there that they have taken over. This of course peaked our interest and instantly became something we just had to check out…

Jude, Kiffin, Aidan, Mycah and Kenedi were the scouts and set out in the dinghy to check things out and let us know if there were truly monkeys around, while the rest of us stayed on Tanda Malaika. For the first 10 or 15 minutes it was total silence and we assumed that they monkeys were just a tall tale. And then it came…a blood curdling scream. We all looked toward the island and could see Kiffin running at lightening speed through the foliage, in-between trees and right out into the water. In fact it looked like she was going to start swimming. At the same time we could see Aidan casually walking and a monkey walking on his hind legs behind him. From behind the trees we heard another scream, and the rest of the crew emerged into the same area where Kiffin was, and a couple of monkeys were chasing them – one in a tree and one on the ground. It was the funniest sight. We saw Aidan run to the dinghy and a monkey swing to a tree right over him, and shortly after that the rest were loaded in and they were headed back to us. They all spoke at once telling us that a monkey chased Kiffin on its hind legs while waving its arms side to side like King Louie and she stopped 3 different times to turn around, make eye contact and yell at it. In the mean time, 3 monkeys attacked Jude – one on each leg and one grabbed the back of her pants, all while Aidan calmly walked killing himself laughing and Mycah and Kenedi ran for their lives. I looked at Judes legs to see she had been bitten, so we cleaned her up with hydrogen peroxide and the mother bear in me wanted to go give the monkeys a piece of my mind.
So, Kalin, Tyrelle, Jake, Mycah and I loaded into the dinghy to see what all the nonsense was about, and as we approached, they were waiting for us.

We climbed out and I looked at the little punks and reprimanded them for being so naughty.

They looked at me as if to say “we can’t believe we evolved from that!”

We walked up through the trees to the house and saw one lazily lying on the metal roof. He later crept closer to show us his teeth.

Mycah started to panic as one started rapidly following her, and as she ran to the beach I had to remind her not to run. When one came up behind me I turned and yelled at him in Afrikaans and he decided to leave me alone.

We continued to watch them for a while then returned to Tanda Malaika and got her prepped to sail on to Portobelo.

We reached Portobelo and Danny got his bags packed and left in the taxi on his trip.

The rest of us walked up to Captain Jacks for hamburgers. Their burgers are huge, leaving us all filled to the brim and looking like we had food babies in our bellies. Portobelo is an interesting place, with several old forts from years gone by.

Painted walls, food vendors and small stores run by oriental businessmen line the streets.

A beautiful big white church with purple trim holds sculptures of a black Jesus,

And a little farther down, is a nativity with all sorts of small farm animals are in place to add to the scene.

Much to Kiffin’s dismay, a monkey sat close by watching for food hand outs from tourists.

A crowd of children were roller blading and riding bikes. We sat down by them and watched their tricks.

We handed out lollipops and they gathered around Kalin to chat since his Spanish is so good.

Yesterday we took Tanda Malaika out for a sail and Kalin and Emma reeled in a huge yellow fin tuna.

It was quite a fight, taking about 20 minutes, but they did it and brought up a beautiful big fish.

The two of them are King of the Ship for their catch.

Beautiful fish.

What a fun day of adventure!

Christmas Day in San Blas with the Keck Family

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We spent much of our Christmas anchored in these beautiful surroundings. Tall coconut filled palms, noni trees swollen with fruit, white sandy beaches and clear turquoise water was what surrounded us.

After church, we gathered up a bunch of humanitarian supplies, and met on land to distribute the to the Kuna. Before setting off through the palms to do this, we had a little photo shoot with the creatures…

They were good sports and fun to photograph because of their goofiness.

We even managed to put together a strange little nativity scene!

What a fun group. We have had so much fun with the Keck’s.

The girls have had a blast and a half catching up,

Just like with ZoAnn and I, friendships continue even stronger than before – like no time was ever missed.

Aidan has had a blast having 3 ‘big brothers’ around.

He has been horsing around nonstop.

After playing and cooling off,

We following a sweet little Kuna lady to where her husband was,

We introduced ourselves, gave them all sorts of dental care products, hygiene products and some reading glasses.

They were very appreciative.

Afterward we sang them a Christmas carol,

Took a group photo and continued on.

The path lead us through lush green vegetation to the opposite side of the island.

It felt like we were in Paradise. I guess we were!

Once we reached the opposite side of the island we noticed 3 separate huts but no one was home at the first two.

They were obviously lived in, and we saw a couple Kunas out fishing, but other than that, no one was around.

At the third hut we found the women and children gathered, enjoying the afternoon together.

We gave them gifts, and the children were especially excited.

We continued on through dense foliage, passing some laundry out between trees to dry,

and came across another couple of huts where two older couples live.

They too, were very appreciative for everything. Just like with all the others, we sang a carol and went on our way.

By this time we were all drenched in sweat and went for another dip to cool off.

It was so refreshing!

Even the pickle got into the spirit of it all.

Not long after that we set sail. Fishing lines were instantly out, and everyone kept busy as we caught 3 Cero, 5 tuna and a barracuda.

We had some happy people on Tanda Malaika!

Jude is pretty pro at handling the net!

Each fish aside from the barracuda was quickly filleted and put into the refrigerator.

For dinner we feasted on fresh fish.

Afterward the Creatures played Settlers of catan and we all enjoyed reflecting on the day and chatting together.

We did not exchange one gift among ourselves and it felt so good to give to others who are in need, instead. This is a Christmas Day we will think about and peacefully reflect on it for the rest of our lives.

Island hopping in San Blas

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We have been having so much fun hopping from island to island here in San Blas, each day exploring a new place. A couple days ago, however, we seemed to find a spot none of us want to leave. We are anchored facing east with a gorgeous island right off our bow as well as one off our port side. Once diving off Tanda Malaika, in just a few strokes, an incredibly beautiful reef is in view, and it runs the entire length of each island. Large fans, corals and sponges are in abundance, and schools of reef fish meander through flashing yellows, blues, orange, greens and purple. Jude, Jake and Kiffin have become the official conch harvesters and are pretty ninja at it, and everyone seems to thoroughly enjoy the conch fritters we make with them.

I’m so grateful I’m not a conch.

Fishing continues to be a major activity.

We constantly have fly rods and traditional rods at work, and everyone is keeping a count to see who catches the most fish.

So far Aidan is in the lead with Dave close behind. Things have become more creative and intense… several fish have been caught on hand lines while snorkeling or paddle boarding. Yesterday I saw Mycah swimming awkwardly back to the boat and asked her if all was good, and she lifted the hand reel and said, yep, just taking my fish for a walk.

Mycah and Kennedi caught one a couple days ago from the paddle board and woke everyone in the islands up from their squeals. Night fishing is where it seems to be though, and it continues far, far into the night. Aidan has been known to dress up for the occasion.

Dave caught something a couple nights ago,

And so did Danny.

Aidan, Tyrel and Kalin spend hours out on the paddle boards, butts in the air and masked faces in the water, just fishing away.

Dave and ZoAnn and amazing on the paddle boards too.

One of our Kuna friends, Nesso, invited some of the girls to his home where his wife let them dress up in Kuna attire.

All three of the girls had great difficulty getting into the tops.

They looked like tangled pretzels wrapped in fabric.

Eventually they were all dressed up!

Nesso and his sweet family have been so awesome.

We are always in the water, splashing around, wrestling, snorkeling, paddle boarding and exploring, and thinking of our family and friends who are being pounded with snow.

Regardless of where everyone is, the spirit of Christmas is beautiful and real and we are loving it.

At the end of each day we are exhausted!

7:30pm feels like 10:30pm but the party continues with boat showers on the stern, lots of games and constant laughter.

We are having so much fun together and can’t bare the thought of the Keck Family leaving in a few days.

San Blas

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Having the Keck Family here in San Blas with us has been constant fun, entertainment and excitement. We wake up to beautiful views,

loving kids who have missed each other so much,

And all day long new adventures await. We taught Kalin one of the many ways to husk a coconut.

And fishing has been an all day and late into the night affair.

So far, we’ve caught some little bait fish, an eel, a shark, and a puffer fish. Dave worked hard for a long time on the shark, not knowing what was on the hook. He was after little fish and had thin line on, and a 4 ft nurse shark decided to take the bait. I jumped in with my GoPro to photograph it, and pretty soon was surrounded by some of the creatures. Dave was able to gently bring him up to the surface to unhook him so he could swim free once again.

What a beautiful creature. Good job Dave!

Aidan set up his hammock on the davits and caught the puffer fish from there. He began puffing up but after being set free, he deflated and swam down deep once again.

We went in to a Kuna village for some fresh fruit, and the creatures played basketball with the locals.

ZoAnn played volleyball with a group of girls. They loved the attention.

In the village the children are shy but friendly for the most part, the women are quiet and the men are full of smiles and hello’s.

We are constantly bombarded with people trying to sell us Molas and jewelry. They are beautiful, but one can only have so many molas!!!

The woman like to come out to the boat to show us all their goods too.

Kalin was so sweet to spend time showing pictures to some of the children. His Spanish is very good.

I did get to hold a sweet little baby. He didn’t like me very much, especially when I told his dad I was taking him back to Tanda Malaika.

We left the village and returned home to continue fishing and relaxing, and found Danny preparing crab and lobster.

We have an abundance of it!

When we’ve ventured to islands to play, the creatures have entertained us with sand fights and football in the surf. Mycah has met her match!

Jake and Kalin are taking care of her sassy self!

At the end of the day (and in the middle of it too), we get plenty of hammock chill time. It’s a good place for naps.

And works well on land and on board!

Life is good.

We are thoroughly enjoy San Blas. Tyrel will be joining the madness today. He is Dave and ZoAnns son, and is flying in to add more spunk to the party. We are so grateful for this opportunity.

The Keck Family have arrived!!!

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While waiting for the Keck family to arrive, we visited a Kuna Village. A local man named Luise paddled over in his dugout and invited us to come purchase bananas, molas and kuna bread in the village, so we did. Looking at the village from the outside, it looked crammed , but once inside one could see that all the homes border the shore with open areas, the school, churches and medical huts toward the center. Small huts were out on the water and are used as bathrooms.

In some areas the village was open and clean and in others it was congested and littered with garbage.

An old Kuna woman brought out her beautiful hand stitched Molas to see if we’d like to buy any. Depending on their detail, they sell them for between $10 and $30.

Close by two men were working on building a dug out and not too far from them a little naked boy stood between two that were already made, and resting on the shore. (Thanks to Mycah for the first 4 photos on this blog)

We found the Kuna people to be friendly and happy. Very family oriented and hard working as a community.
Finally it was time for the Keck Family to arrive, after all sorts of flights, a jeep trip through the jungle and finally a water taxi ride to the tiny island of Carti. Jude and Aidan set out in the dinghy to pick them up and on the first load, Kenedi returned as well as all the luggage.

On the next trip she brought back Dave, ZoAnn, Kalin, Kiffin and Jake.

It is so good to have them with us! ZoAnn and I hugged for a long time.

We pulled up the anchor and and all the creatures (8 of them now) seated themselves on the bow to enjoy the ride.

Dave took his place up at the helm with Danny, and ZoAnn fell asleep in the stern salon.

Soon we found a place to relax and went swimming and paddle boarding.

The creatures had so much fun together.

Jake and Kalin rocked the paddle boards.

After that all the boy people on the boat grabbed fishing gear and went out fishing. Aidan is especially enjoying having more guys around.

Still no luck on fishing, but I have no doubt that that will change before long!
On Thursday morning, Tyrel Keck will be arriving.
And so, the adventure continues on Tanda Malaika. Our days will be filled with playing, relaxing and distributing the reading glasses, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hygiene supplies and school supplies to the Kuna people. Thank you so much to all those that donated!

Cartagena, Colombia to San Blas, Panama

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The sail to San Blas was once again, so beautiful. We started out on a beam reach, which slowly turned into a downhill run. Some of the swells that pushed Tanda Malaika forward were 15 – 20ft. As we climbed them, we’d sometimes slow to 4 knots, then surf down them at 8-10 knots. At one point while I was at the helm early hours of the morning, we hit 14 knots. What a peaceful gentle roll…a push from the ocean and a pull from the sail…When we arrived in San Blas it was 3:30am. We don’t like to enter new places at night because not every obstacle is marked on the charts, so we pulled in by the first islands we came to and dropped anchor as soon as we saw could make out a sand patch in the light of the moon. I was anxious to wake in the morning to take a look at our new surroundings, and when I did, I instantly loved our new back yard. Beautiful lush islands were all around us,

And gorgeous reef to explore at our stern.

Once we’d completed our morning chores, we all jumped in and looked around below the water line. The Caribbean never disappoints! Large blue-green parrot fish and bright yellow tailed damsel fish swam through the big round brain coral heads. Danny, the creatures and I played in the water for a while, then ventured back home to relax some more. A Kuna man moved out slowly in his dugout, watching closely along the shore line for things to harvest.

One cannot pick coconuts here, because every coconut is owned by the Kuna. The are happy to sell them to you though – usually for $2 a piece.

Since the Keck Family are joining us at a little island named Carti, which was about 20 nm away, we figured we’d pick up anchor and head that way. Unfortunately due to some airline delays and cancellations, Aundrea is not going to be able to join us, and the Keck Family will be with us about 20 hours later than planned. We are so excited for them to arrive. As we motored out we passed many perfect little islands. They are the absolute perfect definition of a tropical island. White sand, bright green palm trees, a tiny breeze blowing through…

On some of the islands, small grass huts stood firmly in the sand with thatched roofs, and finally we reached Carti where many huts were arranged together. Smoke was rising here and there from late afternoon fires which were being lit for meal preparation,

And children could be heard laughing and playing somewhere inside.

Three Kuna women made their way home in a dugout, confident on the water they know so well.

The Creatures watched closely, fascinated with their surroundings.

I’m not sure what Aidan did to provoke Jude (and I wasn’t getting involved because she probably had good reason), but he was tied to the mast for a while. Some people use the corner for time out, while some use other measures…

After anchoring we watched the beautiful sunset as locals made their way back home,

and silently thanked our Maker for yet another beautiful day of life.