The San Blas Archipelago: A Hidden Treasure
EXCELENCIAS SUGGESTS A MINDSWEEPING TRIP TO THIS SAFE HAVEN OF POWDER-THIN WHITE SANDS, COCONUT GROVES AND CRYSTAL-CLEAR WATERS
The inhabitants of this archipelago are not tall, have short necks and large heads, with short legs and small feet. The customs that govern in this village are totally different from the rest of the archipelago, since each of the islands has its own rules, so its inhabitants are foreigners when they leave their premises.
Here we find a surprising combination between the most ancient and the most modern customs, as is the case that the Kunas inhabitants, who charge you a dollar for every photo you take of them and ten if you want to take photos of the main street of the village.
They are monogamous and adultery is a crime. His boss is the Sahila, who has authority in the community where he lives. For his part, the Nele is the head of several communities. The houses are all made with reeds, they sleep in hammocks, and inside their huts, there is a curious combination of objects, clothes and family components that are scattered all in the same room. Their livelihood is agriculture, basically coconuts, maize, cocoa and cassava, and now also tourism. In each Kuna household, women make "molas", fabrics embroidered with cheerful colors that are used to make clothes, cushions, paintings and other elements. They also compose "winis", bracelets they wrap around their wrists and ankles, embroidered blouses, masks and necklaces, which they put on display in each door.
Another characteristic is the jewel they wear: earrings of complicated designs that jewelers make especially for each person, and ornaments that are put on the nose, traditionally made of gold, although now they have begun to make them of other materials.
Life unfolds peacefully in the village, under the sweltering Caribbean sun, as children bathe cheerfully in the waters surrounding the place, after attending school, and joke with visitors, especially those who offer themselves to be photographed. It seems that civilization has entered the Kunas only to the point of not disturbing their way of understanding life and living it every day.
Kwadule is a new island, with a surface of about 8,000 square meters, that emerged spontaneously. Its owners, following the rules governing the area, were the first two people to discover their birth and planted the first coconut palms. Belonging to the Kunas ethnic group, its inhabitants, following the tradition passed on to them from their ancestors, managed to fertilize the vegetation of the island by mixing the soil of other islands -they believe that the grains of soil are males and females, so together they become fertile.
It's hard to describe what it feels like to get close to Kwadule; all the fantasies of being Robinson Crusoe or a castaway on the thousand-time dreamy desert island, suddenly come true.
The life in the area hinges on two villages that, although united by a bridge, their dwellers live in them independent, in line with their own standards.
Yandup is the indigenous name of Heart of Jesus, where planes touch down before flying on to Kwadule. The guide introduces us to these villages whose inhabitants greet us with incredible contrasts: the first view is of messy houses, with colors and unpaved streets, but as we go on along, the bridge that joins them pops up, the one over the Narganá River. This is no doubt an unrepeatable image, that of a group of schoolchildren, uniformed in blue. And right behind them, Kunas women wearing typical costumes and their jewels, live in perfect coexistence with their ancient traditions and the perks of progress.
The dream comes to an end, although we will always have the happiness of having seen something unique and perfect, as only a paradise can be.