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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"To be a woman is something so strange, so confusing and so complicated that only a woman could put up with it." -- Kierkegaard

100--Panama: What´s a Kuna Yala?
@ CherieSpotting     Dec 06 2002 - 05:27 PST
cherie writes: The Kuna Yala are the colorful and friendly people of the San Blas Islands. The men spend their days fishing and hacking down coconuts and the women sew "molas." Molas can take up to three months to create and bring the Kuna Yala the majority of their income. (That means it is a female dominated society, so when the men get married, they move into the woman´s hut.)
We spent our days diving, buying molas, eating $2 lobsters, drinking beer with the locals, and giving candy to the kids. (Who would show up at Scirocco with a mouth stained with choclate their tongue brown as bark and say that they didn't get any. Could they please have some more candy for their five sisters at home, who couldn´t fit in the canoe?)
The Kuna Yala have lots of kids. They are probably trying to repopulate since the Spanish almost killed them off (The Kuna used to number almost 750,000 but only about 10% remain today.) Since they rarely mix with other ethnicities, the Kuna people have the highest rate of albinism of anywhere in the world. It was so strange to see blonde-haired little native girls, running around with their tanned brothers and sisters. The albino children are always revered by other Kuna and taught that they are special "children of the moon."

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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What do you do when life keeps exceeding your expectations?
(You´ve never seen this beach because no one can pronounce it.  The island is named "Uchutupu Dumat," one of the San Blas Islands.)

What do you do when life keeps exceeding your expectations? (You´ve never seen this beach because no one can pronounce it. The island is named "Uchutupu Dumat," one of the San Blas Islands.)

Why am I smiling when my hair looks like that?

Why am I smiling when my hair looks like that?

I can really say that we saw EVERYTHING on this island, part of the Chichime Cays in the San Blas Islands.

I can really say that we saw EVERYTHING on this island, part of the Chichime Cays in the San Blas Islands.

The most common thing I said before jumpming in the water: "Are there any jellyfish?"
*Photo by Rennie Waxlax

The most common thing I said before jumpming in the water: "Are there any jellyfish?" *Photo by Rennie Waxlax

Can you guess what is the major export of the San Blas Islands?  Coconuts.

Can you guess what is the major export of the San Blas Islands? Coconuts.

Anne goes tribal.  (I think that head-bands are making a come-back.)

Anne goes tribal. (I think that head-bands are making a come-back.)

Paradise found.

Paradise found.

Greg and I have every reason to smile.

Greg and I have every reason to smile.

Primary colors were invented here.

Primary colors were invented here.

Racing with the locals.

Racing with the locals.

Running with the wind.

Running with the wind.

I guess you could say the water is pretty clear.

I guess you could say the water is pretty clear.

Who wants "conch fritters" tonight?

Who wants "conch fritters" tonight?

Cherie finds another shell!

Cherie finds another shell!

Close your eyes.  Imagine the perfect beach.  Open your eyes.

Close your eyes. Imagine the perfect beach. Open your eyes.

The water is so clear you can see everything.  I mean EVERYTHING!

The water is so clear you can see everything. I mean EVERYTHING!

Even the palm trees are relaxed.

Even the palm trees are relaxed.

Rennie and Anne.

Rennie and Anne.

Another perfect beach.

Another perfect beach.

Anne and Greg hanging out in paradise.

Anne and Greg hanging out in paradise.

The water is so warm you can sit in it all day.  The only chill you ever feel in the San Blas Islands is from a cold beer.

The water is so warm you can sit in it all day. The only chill you ever feel in the San Blas Islands is from a cold beer.

Rennie looking off in the distance.
*Photo by Anne Blunden.

Rennie looking off in the distance. *Photo by Anne Blunden.

Cherie and a "ulu", the Kuna word for canoe.

Cherie and a "ulu", the Kuna word for canoe.

The San Blas Islands are a photographer´s heaven.

The San Blas Islands are a photographer´s heaven.

We taught the Kuna kids an important English word: candy.

We taught the Kuna kids an important English word: candy.

The Kuna kids entertaining themselves in a hand-dug canoe.

The Kuna kids entertaining themselves in a hand-dug canoe.

Another great photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Another great photo by Rennie Waxlax.

A Kuna Yala displaying one of her "molas."  They take pride in their art which is sought after all over the globe.

A Kuna Yala displaying one of her "molas." They take pride in their art which is sought after all over the globe.

Scirocco anchored in the Chichime Cays.

Scirocco anchored in the Chichime Cays.

Kuna children coming towards Scirocco.  "More candy?"

Kuna children coming towards Scirocco. "More candy?"

A beautiful Kuna woman.

A beautiful Kuna woman.

An ulu.

An ulu.

Sunset in San Blas.

Sunset in San Blas.

Rennie likes to have a beer at sunset.  (He also likes to have a beer at sunrise, and every hour inbetween.)

Rennie likes to have a beer at sunset. (He also likes to have a beer at sunrise, and every hour inbetween.)

These are the "nice" bathrooms on the island of Porvenir. 
*Photo by Anne Blunden.

These are the "nice" bathrooms on the island of Porvenir. *Photo by Anne Blunden.

Anne with the Kuna kids.
*Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Anne with the Kuna kids. *Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

The big hut on the big island.  It is where all the Kuna Yala meet to talk about whatever Kunas talk about.  (The leaders get to kick back in the comfy hammocks.) *Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

The big hut on the big island. It is where all the Kuna Yala meet to talk about whatever Kunas talk about. (The leaders get to kick back in the comfy hammocks.) *Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Anne with the Kuna thatched-huts.
*Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Anne with the Kuna thatched-huts. *Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Greg by a tree.
*Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Greg by a tree. *Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Greg and Anne on the beach. (Cherie talking to a Kuna in the distance.)
*Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Greg and Anne on the beach. (Cherie talking to a Kuna in the distance.) *Photo by Rennie Waxlax.

Rennie and Greg in the dinghy.
*Photo by Anne Blunden.

Rennie and Greg in the dinghy. *Photo by Anne Blunden.

Rennie with Scirocco´s "kite" flying in the background.
*Photo by Anne Blunden.

Rennie with Scirocco´s "kite" flying in the background. *Photo by Anne Blunden.

The little plane that took us back to Panama City.  (Room for six whole people inside!)

The little plane that took us back to Panama City. (Room for six whole people inside!)

Greg and I, inside the plane.

Greg and I, inside the plane.