Whenever you go ashore on one of the Kuna islands it is important that you
follow the protocols for good manners and to ensure that cruisers remain
welcomed by the Kuna Indians who live in the semi autonomous Kuna Yala
province of Panama.
With few exceptions the Kuna live in thatched bamboo huts and trade coconuts
with the Colombian vessels in exchange for food, clothing and rare luxuries.
Each island has a school, is run by a headman or Saila and other senior
islanders who form a congress with all villages having a large thatched
building to house the congress meetings into which crowd as many of the
islanders that can fit.
To our western eyes life seems pretty basic but the kids are well fed,
everyone is very friendly and welcoming.
Cruisers repay this kindness by buying the hand stitched Molas that the
women sew and by handing over small gifts such as t shirts, pens and crayons
for the school, old glasses that the women seem to desire, (presumably
because their eyesight is affected by the long hours of close stitch work)
as well as fishing line and hooks for the men and boys.
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