Teds Travels – The cultural paradise of the San Blass Islands
You will find this group of islands running just of the coast of Panama. Strung along over 375 km in the Caribbean Sea, they are also known as Kuna Yala. The Archipelago consists of 360 low lying islands, sixty of which are inhabited by the indigenous and traditional Kuna people. Thought to be descendants of the Carib Indians, officially the islands are part of Panama but are administrate as “country within a country” and lead by the Kuna themselves. This allows them to follow their own customs laws and legislation thus enabling them to preserve their own heritage and rich traditions.
We can make the bookings for your clients looking for something very different, once they have seen the busy city of Panama and have sailed on a partial or a full day cruise through the Panama Canal. We can book a boat passage across to one of the islands that allow travellers and have suitable guest house accommodation.
One can also fly to a few of the tiny islands. There is a protocol that needs to be followed and respected, remember we are the guest of the Kuna and must abide by their laws. We need to ask permission to visit an island, need to ask about taking photos and some areas of interest need permission to enter. Also, there is a social code about how to dress that you need to follow. More on how to be a responsible travel here.
They do encourage tourism as it is a source of additional income, which will supplement their agriculture activities like growing coconuts on islands and other food crops which are grown on the mainland.
The Kuna women wear a traditional dress made up of headscarves bright bolts of cloth around their waist. On their forearms and calves are bound in coloured beads and their beautiful blouses are called “molas” which are sewn in reverse-applique designs. They also wear gold nose rings, paint their faces and paint a line down their nose…it is thought that the bright colours repel evil spirits
Visitors can fly over for a day trip or better still stay 2 or 3 nights literally on a deserted Caribbean Island. Clients need to book in advance as there is limited accommodation and transport.
Breathtaking scenery and the unique indigenous culture make these islands a unique place to experience. Highly recommended.
Next week I will tell you about another island, Chiloe and its inhabitants in the Chilean fjords.