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San Blas Islands Mini Tour
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Tim
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Joined: 24 Nov 2007
Posts: 2242
Location: Glen Arm, Md

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:41 pm    Post subject: San Blas Islands Mini Tour Reply with quote

San Blas Islands Mini Tour

The San Blas islands are interesting for a week but two would stretch the point. Most of the 350 plus islands are much the same. Most are single family with two grass shacks each, one for sleeping and the other for cooking in. The bathroom and bath are as near as the beach preferably on opposite sides of the island. I enjoyed my week there on the Mandalay and truly felt the islands must not have changed much in the last 400 hundred years.

The people who live in the Islands are a nation unto themselves. The Kuna people live both in the islands and on the mainland of Panama. The Kuna’s are a matriarchal society. Inheritance passes through the women not the men. The women seem to control the money and do the business of selling Molas. The men do the fishing and transport the Mola sellers from island to island. The women make their clothes and their daughters clothes; A Mola basically is a shirt. When it is worn out or no longer wanted the women convert into an item of art for sale to tourists. In order to keep up with demand molas are now made for the sole purpose of trade goods. Hot pads and T shirts are also products made for the tourist trade. Men make the clothing for themselves and their sons. This is likely why you see the men wearing modern made western ware and the women wearing traditional handmade items.

The women are excellent business people and are adept at getting the most for their products. Pictures are a good source of revenue for the Kuna people. You are expected to pay $1 for each picture taken of the locals. Two people cost $2. Sometimes an extra dollar is expected if Molas are used as a background. A telephoto lens saved me a small fortune although I must admit I also spent a small fortune legally.

The Kuna rebellion that led to the recognition of Kuna Yala as a semi-autonomous territory by the government of Panama occurred when the government tried to prevent Kuna women from wearing their traditional Mola costumes. What fool would try to tell a woman what she could not wear?

The Kuna language is spoken throughout the community; however, Spanish (the language of Panama) is spoken by many. Due to the tourist trade English is spoken by some.

The Kuna people we were told are the second smallest people on earth. The animals except for cats also were small. I had the privilege of having Gilberto our Kuna guide as a roommate in the tiny cabin room 8 on the Mandalay. Gilberto was able to get us into the congress house on one of the larger islands. The chiefs known as Sahila take care of day to day problems and settle disputes. They have a great system and perhaps we should send Obama there to observe a system that works.

As much as we were interested in seeing the Kuna people many of them brought their families out to stare at us and would do so for hours at a time. Excellent fisherman they would bring lobster crab and fish to the ship. The Mandalay cook would make a feast of whatever we bought. Those were good days.

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Last edited by Tim on Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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Tim
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Tim
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Linda M
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OMG!! Absolutely fantastic Tim........as usual you had me laughing, especially explaining the role of the women, and someone having the nerve to tell them what they can, and cannot wear.

The pictures are beautiful, and I enjoyed this particular Tour, probably the most, as I 've never been to the San Blas Islands........now I see how much I missed. It was always on my to do list on the Mandalay, but we all know why it never happened Rolling Eyes

Thank you so much Tim, for all your wonderful tours.......I can't tell you how much it is appreciated..........you are the best!!!!!!

hug cocktail

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Bequia Beach Bum
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tim,

I was lucky enough to do the San Blas on the Mandalay in May '07. Your pictures do the justice that that area deserves, and they were EXCEPTIONAL!!!

Great Tour! Keep the tours coming,

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May we always have Fair Winds, Blue Skies and Smooth Seas
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