The Kuna People

Trip Start Sep 10, 2005
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Trip End Apr 27, 2006


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Flag of Panama  ,
Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wow...what a place!! Absolutely loved it. We flew from Panama city (Pacific side)to the caribbean side to the San Blas Islands....took about 20 minutes in a very small plane. There are about 300 small islands many are inhabited, but many are not. The Kuna Indians live here and are pretty self-sufficient. They dont pay taxes to panama..but still receive help in the way of education and health. They make much of their money from tourism..they make money from their airport (tiny shack) and from their art. They make money from selling coconuts and from family members who go to Panama city and work..and then send money back home.

They have a philosophy of peace and harmony and have only had one murder in the past 10 years. One person from each island or area (many live on the mainland too)is elected as a leader ..and this person serves for life. They have a pipe line from the rivers that feeds fresh water to many of the islands..each family only pays 50 cents (they use U.S. dollars) a month for all the water they need. These small islands are getting overcrowded..some small islands have as many as 1500 people on it. They are thinking about moving and creating communities on the mainland...but there are many debates going on among the people and they say they might make a move..eventually..but have decided that it will only happen with a lot of planning and preparation. There are teachers that come to the islands from Panama City...and they teach the children just a few subjects..math...Spanish...and the history of panama...but from what i understand any Kuna person educated in their area..is qualified to go to a Panama University.

The art is fabulous...brightly colored molas made from fabric that they wear and sell as unfinished squares.. or purses, or clothing, or decoration. They wear beads on their calves with interesting designs...made from one string of beads. They wear bright red/pink blush on their cheeks and an interesting tattoo down the bridge of their nose. I wish i could have taken more pictures..but the adults dont like their pictures taken...the kids love it though.

we stayed on a very remote island called Robinsonīs island. It was amazing! i really felt as if i was on a deserted island. There were only 5 of us staying there at any time..no electricity...basic cabaņas...and only fish and whatever they caught that day...lobster and fish....very basic. It rained about 30 percent of the time..mostly at night..but i had one night where i slept in a hammock and i woke up to a beautiful sunrise...amazing. See if you can see the videos..the bathroom one is priceless!!!

we swam to the other island one day..it took longer than we thought it would..about 2.5 hours (we think?!)..there was amazing snorkeling along the way..and i think i can safely say that i am over my kid fears of jelly fish as we swam through huge sections of them...just little stings!!!

anyway..i head back to panama city and then up to Costa rica..where i fly to South America....
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