2 - 4 March: With only one functioning engine, RAFTKIN and PELIZENO reckoned the best place for us to join them was Waisaladup, at the bottom of West Hollandes Cays. Waisaladup is Kuna for Fantasy Island, and the place is well named. We were greeted by the advance party from PELIZENO (Pete and Zenon on a dinghy), taking photos of us sailing in, and RAFTKIN on kayaks and paddle-boards. Isabelle was over the moon to be reunited with Hayley and Megan, and they were a sight for sore eyes.
After we anchored up, everyone came on board, laden with beers. Given it was 11 in the morning and we had just spent a week on night shifts, one was enough for Xav and I, and we retired for a quick siesta before taking the kids onto the beach to join everyone else. I snorkelled in, exploring en route the small, and perfectly formed reef sheltering a whole host of purple and silver iridescences, clown fish, balloon fish and all sorts. Every Eden has its serpent though, and San Blas has its crocs. Not on this island, apparently, but it is worth checking in advance, because there have been at least a couple of attacks I have heard about recently. Also on the beach were Ella and Lukas with their young sons Nile and Elian, the family from the Swiss boat BAJKE, who had crossed the Atlantic with ARC like us, but in the "plus" group, going via Cape Verde. Ella is from Poland, where "bajke" means fairytale, or top holiday. Living the dream. As the sun set, Lisa arranged for some cocos locos from Julian, one of the Kuna locals, who sliced the coconut in half with his huge machete... #justaddrum.
A little later Julian brought us the lobsters he had caught for our barbecue that night. The kids were fascinated. Then a group of backpackers came over with all the righteous indignation of youth. "You know it's illegal to buy these from him, right?!" We didn't. "You know, the Kuna are a bit fed up of day-trippers like you guys coming to hang out on their beaches all day and not buying any local produce?" I nearly retorted. Anyway, all the guidebooks we had read said that season finished on 1 April. Still, it turned out that the guidebooks were wrong, the backpackers were right, and the season had indeed ended the day before, so we paid Julian and told him to release the lobsters back or give them to his family, for otherwise where do you draw the line? We pooled together all our meat left in the freezer and had a great barbecue on RAFTKIN instead.
We left the next morning. Time had slipped by quickly here, and, while we could easily have spent longer here, we had no regrets. Fantasy Island felt like a foretaste of the paradise that lies ahead in French Polynesia, and we could here the Pacific calling...