Cambombia and Nargana

On January 24th we headed toward the Naguargandup Cays, anchoring in front of Cambombia, the Eastern of the cays. This beautiful island is home to two very friendly Kuna families, who run a “restaurant” serving among other dishes, the “cambombia”, a shell very common and easy to source in this area.


At the restaurant we were not alone, since two groups of Italian with their clients joined our very long and only table. The dinner was accompanied by loud modern music which contrasted quite a bit with the very basic and natural environment. This somehow highlights the contrast between the simple life of the Kuna people who do not even use electric lights and the needs brought by the tourists.


We spent the following few days sailing between our favorites islands, all close by Cambombia. On January 31st we met Francesco and Maria (friends of Mirko – see earlier post) who joined us for dinner; we spent a pleasant evening, enjoying some social life that for us is quite scarce in this period!

Nargana and Corazon de Jesus

Nargana – Houses with bathrooms (on the left side of the photo)

One of the factors that influences our sailing route is the need to source provisions, especially fresh food such as vegetables and fruits. In this area there are sometimes Kuna people who bring by ulu (canoe) fish, lobsters, and sometimes even vegetables and fruit. However this happens on a “by chance” basis, so the alternative is to go to one of the few islands where you can find some basic shops. Nargana and Corazon de Jesus are two islands linked by a bridge where there are “several” shops selling “luxurious” items such as pasta, bread, and biscuits.

These islands also feature a laundry place where a lady washes clothes by hand using the river water brought by a basic but functional pipe system coming from the mainland. This water provisioning is quite unique in the area as fresh water typically is sourced from rain. This is why the Kuna huts are typically surrounded by plastic barrels.

Laundry at Nargana

In addition, Nargana is the only place where is kind of safe to leave the garbage (basura) that apparently is brought to the mainland. In all other islands the garbage is either burned (yes, including the plastic; it is considered the least of the damages to the environment by both Kuna and cruisers) or simply thrown into the sea. This is really a major problem for us and most sailors. We collect the garbage in different buckets depending on the material, as we are used to do at home, but here it is useless because there are no means (and a culture) to properly dispose the differentiated garbage.

Bridge between Nargana and Corazon de Jesus

Central park in Nargana

Back to Panama
10 days in the San Blas with Marie-Helene and Thierry

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *