Three days in the Kunas islands : Akunamatata!

Ile de Carti et pêcheurs

Today “la rue vibre” will enable you to sparkle in society. You will be able to explain that the border between Panama and Colombia by road is not possible. But you can do a 3 weeks trek through the jungle which implies to hide-and-seek from the police (it is totally forbidden), from the guerrilla (FARC), drugs dealers and of course paramilitaries (extreme right milice).
Thus it remains only those possibilities: by plane or by boat. We chose the last one as we wanted a bit of adventure!

From Panama city we got to Carti, on the San Blas archipelago coast. We entered the independent territory of the Kunas, native people living on the little islands of the archipelago. They have their own culture, institutions, religion and police.

Because of the high price of the gasoline we wanted to wait for a merchandise ship which could give us a lift. But here the notion of time is really different. We learned, a little late, that “mas tarde” (later in spanish) does not mean this afternoon, neither tomorrow nor the day after!

Vue de la cafeteria de Carti

The sympathetic Kuna people live calmly each day as it comes. It is a matriarchal society. Men go fishing or cultivate their little field on the terra firma while women take care of the family stuf or go to the city to go shopping etc. They live in houses made from coconut trees’ leaves. They also kept their traditions, way of life and language but at price however: the community is withdrawn on itself and not always welcoming.

Each day we woke up at 5:30 a.m. to wait for boats because the traffic is more intense in the morning. Thus the day seemed quite long on the little Carti island.

Hopefully we met two french guys, Habib and Stephane, the second day. They joined us at the “cafeteria” of the island which is a restaurant, an hostel, a harbour and a shop in the same time. The two french guys were fond of fishing and they learned a little about it. With handmade fishing rod (with the garbage found on the island), Rémi even achieved to fish some few sardines!

Rémi et ses sardines

We also spent a day on an absolutely heavenly island. It was not more than 100 meters long and full of coconut trees. The water around was turquoise as in movies.

Ile paradisiaque des San Blas

The fourth day we met a colombian guy who also wanted to go to Puerto Obaldia (the city at the border). Thanks to him we could get on a “lancha” (motor boat of about 20 places). But only 20 minutes after we left the motor had some problems. Hopefully the colombian guy had some technical skills and could repair it! We thought we could never escape of here!

But the crossing was long and it was dark before we reach our destination. Thus we slept on the Caledonia island. The community rent us some hammocks for the night. It was our first night in hammocks and was quite nice!

Romane dans le hamac de l'ile Caledonia

The day after we had to bargain one more time to find a boat to Puerto Obaldia. We got one for $99 for 5 persons! Not very cheap but we could not do better and did not want to get stuck there…

One hour of boat later we finally arrived in Puerto Obaldia!!! Yurrah! The little city was full of soldiers but quite nice however. We were so glad to arrive! But it was not the end of the adventure…

One comment for “Three days in the Kunas islands : Akunamatata!”

    A-KU-NA MA-TA-TA….Oh yeah………….”

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