San Blas Archipelago nestled along the eastern Caribbean coast of Panama consists of 378 small islands. Most of the islands are still like some virgin jewels of incredible nature. They allure the travelers with excellent rainforests, splendid waterfalls, enchanting beaches, colorful birds and with the wonderful children of America known as the Kuna.
San Blas Archipelago is a territory and not one of the nine provinces of Panama. The Kuna people live in less than 50 of the islands and they live independently. The Kuna Yala Indians have migrated from the Santa Marta Mountains of Colombia centuries before. They have obtained the right to self-government following the 1925 Kuna Revolution. This achievement is celebrated in February every year.
The Kuna people have their own administration. They are still happy with their language, culture and customs, dances and music and with their economic practices. The national government of Panama maintains a policy of least interference in their way of living.
Carti in San Blas Panama is at a distance of nearly three hours from Panama City by car. Aeroperlas, Air Panama and a few more commercial and charter flights provide daily services to take tourists to a dozen airports in the islands. You may also experience the unique natural beauty of the archipelago if you decide to go by yacht or sailboat. They will take you to the bewitching beaches of some distant island.
You will find that Biological Conservation Center at Nusagandi Camp, Kuna Yala Museum, Dolphin Island Lodge on Uaguitupo Island and the first-ever completely ecological Kuna Lodge at Sapibenega are waiting for you. Sapibenega means ‘life’ in Kuna language. Sapibenega has provisions for bar-cum-restaurants, cabins with private bathrooms, toilets, drinking water and electricity for all hours. The islands of Ailigandi, Achutupp, Carti-Sugtupu, Nargana, Nalunega and Wichubwala have comparably good lodges.
However, provisions in many of the island lodges are still not sufficient. They contain a few cabins and electricity is also for limited use. In the lodges you will get good meals but nothing like those of the continentals. You may also stay as a guest with a Kuna family. You will not get cable television. The Kuna people are very simple and friendly and hospitable. They will treat you with preparations made of lobsters, octopus and fish fresh from the sea, and of course with coconuts.
Now come out from your cabins and watch the Kuna men sailing on the small boats and canoes with nets and spears for fishing in the sea since the early morning. Many of them toil in the field to yield vegetables, coffee and different fruits. You may see one lone man climbing up a coconut tree. You will definitely meet the ‘coconut women’ and remember Harry Belafonte’s immortal song.
You will never miss the Kuna women. They usually remain busy with works for the Molas. The Molas are famous as the indigenous crafts of the region. These are dresses of the women with designs of geometric and non-geometric impressions, impressions of fish, birds, forests animals and many other things. The Kuna women with necklaces of sea shells and bracelets of beads will appear from the palm-thatched homes and stare at you with smiles in the eyes as you will visit an island village.
Call of San Blas Panama is not wild and not ignorable also.
Panamanian PeopleFebruary 03, 2010