Favorite thing: The Kunas have originally come from the ranges of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia being pressed by other tribes of the same region. They first moved towards the Darien Gap and then settled down in the archipelago. For the Kunas their land is 'Madre Tierra' ; the Mother of everything. It's the most respected spirit that protects not only Nature but also the power of their spirit and culture. That's why they don't want to destroy the pure unspoilt nature of the little islands. There is an old legend saying that there are 8 elements in Nature not to be disturbed. Among these are gold, silver and iron. They believe that if they allow these elements to be exploited the trees will dry away and die.
Their customs were in danger until the Revolution of Tule in 1925. Then they gathered and decided seriously to fight for their rights to keep their own autonomy. The authorities and especially the police were not respectful and were actually trying to persuade them to assimilate their way of life to the rest of the country. They thought this was unacceptable. They commemorate that rebellion every year in February.
They believe each person has a good and a bad spirit and after death the good spirit needs help to go to heaven. They used to bury their dead inside their house and built a thatched roof over their grave.
The head of the family, charged also with the duty to keep the culture, is the woman. She also has the right to have property and keep the finances of the family. This priviledge is reflected in the way they are dressed in those bright colours.
Their economy has been based on the coconuts they pick and sell to the passing boats. Nowadays tourism has also contributed as tourists have to pay 2 to 5 dollars for visiting the islands. For photos you have to pay 1 dollar except if you have bought something. The Kunas have the duty to clean and maintain the ecosystem of their islands. Every 3 or 4 years, as they told me, different families take turns in living on an island sharing thus the profits of tourism. When they leave the island the men of the families go to Panama City to seek for work. Fortunately the big touristic projects have not yet come to menace the unique paradise land of San Blas.
Besides other activities there is a great opportunity to do your humanitarian duty in life. The people have great needs so it's very easy for you to be useful and complete as a human being helping them out ...
Click for more photosRelated to:
- Road Trip
'Hijos de la Luna'
Favorite thing: 'Hijos de la Luna' means 'sons of the moon' and refers to the albinos who are more common in the Kunas community than anywhere else. This is attributed to the fact that they don't marry outside their tribe. Albinos, however, are considered people of special values and are looked highly by the Kunas. They are respected and are treated as special. So the Albinos have developed characteristics of leaders and are charged with the ruling and keeping the balance among the community
Favorite thing: The inhabitants live on very small low islands - just a small lump of mud with some palm trees and barely above the water level. There are thatched-roof huts bamboo homes with hammock beds. Bathrooms are small buildings that stick out over the water like a lighthouse outhouse. Sometimes whole buildings are on stilts above the water. Notched log stairs are made with the most basic of tools. There is usually a main meeting house on each island.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Sailing and Boating
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