San Blas is the name the Spanish conquistadors gave to the 365 islands and the little strip of mainland covered in rainforest.
The inhabitants call it Kuna Yala=Kuna territory, the land of the Kunas, who are proud of their traditions, little changed since their ancestors.
Originally the Kunas come from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia but under pressure of other tribes and invadors they moved from the mountains to the coast and the uninhabited offshore islands.
“Some communities still survive in the forests of the Atlantic and Pacific slopes of the continental divide” says our guide.
The majority are living here and since the Tule Revolution in 1925, the Kuna Indians have autonomous rule of the territory.
There are no villages in the Holandes Kays, only few huts of coconut caretakers who come to work here for a few months. Julian, the chief and owner of Waisaladup is living here all year round.
With Julian and his granddaughter
Trading with one family
Esilda (18) working on a mola One of Esilda’s molas
Siaguaru (mother) getting smoked fish for us. This is the cooking hut, the kitchen so to say.
Demetrio (father) and Siaguaru visiting us on Kahia
Jair (son), chilling out All women wear molas on their blouse, an original handcraft unique to the Kunas.
Leaving in their dugout canoe, called an ulu