Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Kuna Yale

For part of our Panama vacation, Jesse and I went to the San Blas Islands, on the Caribbean side of Panama. The islands are an autonomous region of the Kuna people, so they refer to the islands as the Kuna Yale. There are over 400 islands in the chain, all controlled by the Kuna. Nobody other than Kuna are allowed to own land on the Yale, so all the hotels are Kuna run, in Kuna villages. Jesse and I stayed for three days on the islands.
Each day, the hotel would take us to a different island in the chain. Most of the people live on less than 30 islands in the chain, so most of the islands (the ones we did the day trips to) are deserted, white sand beach islands. We traveled to these islands by way of a dug out 12 foot (approximately) canoe. Now, I tend to be prone to a little seasickness sometimes, and traveling on windy seas in a canoe did not help. I got seasick almost everyday. However, the beautiful scenery and the completely empty beaches did help me get over it quickly.
The Kuna women still dress traditionally and create molas. Molas are part of their traditional dress that get wrapped around the women's stomach. They are created with several layers of fabric sewn together to create beautiful patterns. Each island that we went to had several molas on display for purchase. We also found molas all around Panama City, since they have recently become the tourist purchase of the country.
We enjoyed our journey to the islands, but we do tend to get a little bit restless, and I was sick of being sick, so by the time our stay was ending, we were ready to head back.

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