Voyage Journal 7815 Day 8

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Day 8 - September 8, 2008 - Day At Sea, En Route to San Blas, Panama

By Juan José Aspéstegui, General Naturalist

Noon Position: 13° 48’ N, 080° 24’ W
Weather: Calm seas with clear skies and scattered clouds

The morning started in a relaxed way, and soon after breakfast I gave the first lecture of the educational program for today. It was entitled “A Natural History of the Isthmus” which was an attempt at explaining why the area encompassed by Costa Rica and Panama is so rich in biodiversity when compared to other areas of the continent or even the world. I made a short review of the geological formation of this, the newest part of the American continent, and also some of the factors that made it into a bridge/filter for the organisms that tried to cross it from North America and vice versa, summing up as well the numbers of species in different groups that are found here — a disproportionate percentage of world’s biodiversity when compared to the area of land comprised by these two countries.

My talk was followed a little later by Claudia’s on the Kuna Indians, where she summarized some of the history of this ethnic group we hope to visit tomorrow, and explained to us about their culture. They are a matrilineal society where the wealth is passed through the mother’s line, even though the political power tends to lie with the men. The Kunas are one of the very few indigenous peoples of world who are doing very well thanks to the control they have of their political and economic lives in a semiautonomous ‘comarca’ or province, within the country of Panama. Claudia also explained about the creation of their famous ‘Molas’ the differences between a good quality one and others, and ways to recognize these differences, as well as giving us some pointers on how to negotiate when shopping for these colorful handcrafted fabrics.

In the afternoon, the Captain was gracious enough, again, to open the bridge for visitors, so the sailors among our guests could go and ‘give some advice’ on the navigation. Stephanie Kuhar, our Spa Manager, gave a demonstration of the different services available from The Spa, and at 1600, our guest photographer, Richard Harker, held a session for advice and evacuating doubts with anyone who wanted to attend. This was followed by a briefing on the events planned for tomorrow, an introduction to the Prince Albert Foundation given by Robin West, and the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the voyage video that Valery the official photographer is in the process of elaborating.

The evening was capped by the Venetian Society cocktail party and followed by the Venetian Society Dinner, another show of excellent culinary art by the Prince Albert II Chef and his team.

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