Bocas del Toro, Panamá
San Blas/Guna Yala, Panamá
Guna Yala (San Blas) - home to indigenous people called „Gunas“. Guna women are dressed traditionally in their bright red dresses, wearing orange (ankle) bracelets. San Blas is known as more than 300 beautiful coral islands, San Blas is a paradise in the caribbean sea they say. Yes, it is - in parts. However, it’s not perfect in paradise, it’s not only about beautiful tiny islands, beaches, crystal clear water, sea stars and palmtrees. Gunas live on islands like this one shown here. There is no beach, no running water, no shower, no proper toilet, just a selection of food and drinks. As I experienced, the Guna Yala is a strong community who hold great value in tradition and autonomy, they choose to live here, earning money by fishing lobsters, mostly by tourism. In the past there have been several tragic battles between the Guna Yala and other cultures trying to colonize them or robbing their natural resources. That’s why they celebrate the heroes of the revolution in 1925, when Gunas proclaimed their independence. Usually tourists are not staying with Gunas at those kind of islands. But as I think getting to know different cultures is one of the most important things when it comes to global awareness as well as topics like discrimination and prejudice, embracing cultural differences, I arranged to stay with Gunas in order to get to know their way of living.
That is San Blas - on the one hand stunning caribbean islands visited by many tourists from all over the world - and on the other hand - the Guna Yala Comarca, with traditional indigenous people living here, living in a totally different environment.
There are to sides to the coin.