Pearls in the Perlas?

Ruffian and Senang.

6th January 2024

Las Brisas De Amador, Panama – Isla Iguanita, Rio Darien, Panama via Isla Chapera & Isla Cañas, Las Perlas, Panama

Sometimes the name of a destination tells you everything you need to know about it. Guatemala is full of guacamole, Cayman is full is Caymans, and on Bikini you’ll always find people wearing bikini’s. Heading to the Islas Perlas we wondered if every beach would be covered in pearls and every reef teeming with pearl laden oysters.

We left the city waters of Panama City, which teamed with fishing boats, trawlers and container ships , for the flat waters of the Pacific which teamed with its own life. In Ruffian’s wake fish jumped and the horizon was alive with dolphins leaping out of the water and splashing down, while on Senang the wildlife was very much closer as fish were caught, landed filleted and refrigerated within minutes.

As we anchored in the thin cut between Isla Mogo Mogo* and Isla Chapera it felt like we were surrounded by Jewels. After weeks in town anchorages we were now surrounded by golden beaches , a sapphire blue sea and emerald green hills.

The underwater world was full of treasures but none were for the taking. We luxuriated in the warm clear shallow waters where we played with fish, and our feet were exfoliated by the sand, so fine that it cleaned the inside of our pores. Where the water was welcoming the foliage was downright fierce as every tree seemed to be covered in flesh ripping thorns and the bushes worked together making an impenetrable barrier, maybe these were protecting peals inland?

Looking for treasures out to sea Senang shamed us into deploying our fishing lures. With a cedar plug streaming out to port and a purple squid, chasing a green squid out to starboard we had high hopes of sitting down to servings of sushi followed by tuna stakes and then a fishy dessert (are there any fish based puddings?).

Turning into another perfect anchorage our lures were pulled in, they were as successful at catching fish when streaming behind Ruffian as they were wrapped up in a locker. Our lures clearly had to go to Senang for some education as once again they’d bagged the treasures of the ocean and their fridge was once again full.

Now being in the remote and unexplored Islas Perlas we ventured ashore but no pearls were forthcoming. The beaches were unmarked apart from our footprints and the only sounds we heard were own own. This remote feeling was exacerbated as night fell as the only man made lights were our anchor lights, our saloon lights and the screen of our phones as Starlink internet streamed down from satellites that we could see high above us.

We had discovered no Pears in the Islas Perlas but delightful treasures have been found in every bay, every reef and every anchorage. The search however continues as we head deep into the Darien River where maybe we’ll happen across Crocodiles with sharp teeth, Toucans with powerful beaks and Indian tribes with kind hearts.

*What a brilliant name for an island.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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