How many days can a man take in paradise? I don’t know; let me count the days. To me part of the being in paradise is absence of money or at least where money goes so far that it will last forever. When I can’t find that in the places I visit, the word Paradise is off the table for a descriptor.
I can remember my first trip to Puerto Vallarta back in the 80s. Leaving the old Buenaventura Hotel one could walk a few blocks into the barrio and buy a fresh orange juice squeezed in front of you for a couple pesos then walk a little more and sit down at an open air joint, enjoy too cold cervezas, a bowl of frijoles de hoy and a stack of tortillas for the equivalent of $2. Now that’s paradise. Of course the streets of PV don’t qualify but enjoying your hard earned dollar go so far is a wonderful feeling. In all my INNcredible journey that feeling has eluded me everywhere we’ve been. No matter what currency you’re counting in, food costs are very much the same with few exceptions.
Well yesterday, here in the San Blas islands, more precisely in the Holandes Cays, where all the criteria for paradise on a beauty and weather level are met, finally I got that wonderful feeling of money paradise. First a Kuna fisherman comes to our boat in his dugout and offers some fish. I pick out four nice yellow jacks and offer $5, he takes $7. Then we dinghy into the adjacent island where three families live in their grass huts. The ladies buy a couple molas. But I notice quite a stash of conch in this other Kuna’s dugout. I ask to buy 4 large conch and watch him wield his machete and pull these globs out of the shells as if it were easy but couldn’t hide the snotty mess however. My mind quickly fast forwarded to how I was going to prepare these globs of conch and so I asked for two coconuts. He obliged and wacked away with a few swipes of his machete and there they were. When I asked how much?, the old man motioned to the matriarch, all dressed and adorned in Kuna women’s wear, for the answer. I braced myself for a shellacing. But to my pleasant surprise the grand total for the four conch and two coconuts was $6. Immediately I felt blissfully calm and totally happy that paradise really does exist if not just for the moment here in the Kuna Yala.
Those four yellow jacks fed 6 of us for dinner and today the coconut breaded conch fritters will feed the 6 of us again. If this keeps up one could stay here for a long time, certainly another criteria for the word Paradise