Guna Families and Claire’s Mola
So far, we have visited three islands in the San Blas Archipelago that are inhabited. Porvenir with an airstrip, customs post and two hostels. Wichubhuala with its village, shops (stocking only the barest essentials such as milk, onions, rice and tinned beans with cocktail sausages!), an official dock and swept sand streets. The little bays around the island though are thick with detritus – mainly plastic bottles. Not a pretty sight. The islands are actually disappearing as a result of global warming and there is evidence in Wichubhuala of manmade attempts to raise ground level with rocks and dead coral. Along one of the back streets of the village Claire managed to barter for her mola and a photo of the lady who had made it. Then there’s Tisdup. A small island in East Holandes Cays, home to 3 families with a total of 14 children. We went ashore to visit armed with lollipops and biscuits for the children and coffee in case we were given the opportunity to barter. We were allowed to take photos of one family with the matriarch, Seraphina Tia, resplendent in traditional Guna dress and jewellery. The women sew molas, the men go fishing and harvest coconuts. The fish are smoked on open fires in a clearing set apart from the houses and they sell/barter fish and coconuts for their supplies. What a very simple life they all lead in their rickety homes with palm frond sides and roof.