The Beauty of San Blas/the Kuna: a Photo Essay

Kuna woman

Join Me…in San Blas!

This week, I’d like us to travel together–to the land of the Kuna indigenous in San Blas. Care to join me?

In a rush?

Check out my video-style slide show (which I made in iPhoto). It’s just 2.5 minutes long, includes about 150 photos and will put you right there with me–in the moment. Many moments actually–and quite amazing ones! From the sunrise/sunset to the moonrise to turquoise water, palm trees and the indigenous Kuna living their lives.

Have some more time?

Here’s a little info about what’s in the video–who the people are, etc.

The Kuna live in three politically autonomous ‘comarcas’ (ie, reservations) in Panama mostly (and in a few small villages in Colombia). I visited the San Bias archipelago in Panama, which is made up of 357 small islands. I visited several.

I met several Kuna along the way and of those I met, they fell into two groups: the Kuna men, who mostly fish and raise produce; and the women who make molas, cloth appliqué that’s abstract and geometric, which they wear as part of their wardrobe. Some people say the Kuna are aloof; I didn’t find that to be the case for the most part–possibly because I spoke Spanish with several.

Photos from the Video

Your Experience and Your Advice re: Upcoming Posts

Have you met the Kuna? If so, what was it like? If not, have you met other indigenous living in a tropical region?

As you can imagine, I have many ideas for posts re: San Blas…would love to know what you’re most interested in.

A) Curse of the Eclipse and Other Kuna Superstitions

B) Tips for Planning Your Trip to San Blas

C) Review of the trip I took–the good, the bad and the not so pretty

D) 10 Surprising Facts about the Kuna

E) Other–anything else that you’d like to know re: San Blas?

32 Responses to The Beauty of San Blas/the Kuna: a Photo Essay
  1. Dyanne@TravelnLass
    July 26, 2011 | 12:32 pm

    Whew! Glad to see that my beloved San Blas Isles are (relatively?) the same pristine haven I explored back in ’99.

    That said…

    WOA! L-O-V-E that sweet slide show! Not only are the pics fab, but that mosaic “unfold” effect is stunning. What software did you use for it?

    And finally, my druthers? I choose “All of the Above” (A, B, C, D, and E!) 😉
    Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted..Packing PracticeMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 27, 2011 | 8:52 am

      Dyanne–So cool that it looks pretty much the same! So glad you enjoyed the slideshow….it took forever to make! (It will definitely be listed in my ‘7 links’–lol.) I used iPhoto’s ‘Origami’ setting. Was very easy. Just had to drag the pics into an album, etc. Of course, I wanted them in a very special order and had to make the music (since YouTube called me out on a song I ‘borrowed’). Glad you’re interested in all the posts…cool. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Maria
    July 26, 2011 | 1:41 pm

    I’m for A, C, and D.

    This is a great photoblog both in images and presentation. Kudos!

    • CB Driver
      July 27, 2011 | 8:56 am

      Thanks, Maria…so glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for the feedback re: which San Blas posts are of interest to you!

  3. buddingspritelet
    July 27, 2011 | 12:51 am

    This is your best work ever!

    • CB Driver
      July 27, 2011 | 9:05 am

      Muchas gracias, chica! I appreciate that. And just think–you were on the chicky bus for this one! :)

  4. Aaron @ Aaron's Worldwide Adventures
    July 27, 2011 | 8:09 am

    I vote A. Nice pictures!
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..7 of My Most Awesome Adventures!My Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 27, 2011 | 9:05 am

      Thanks, Aaron. Glad you like the new pics….!

  5. Lori
    July 27, 2011 | 5:50 pm

    Oh, you must have had a great experience. And the potos – great ones btw, congratulations – don’t tell it all! Lovely photo essay!

    • CB Driver
      July 28, 2011 | 9:28 am

      Hi, Lori. It was a great experience (despite some challenges that occurred., which I’ll be writing about later). Glad you liked the photos/photo essay! I put a lot of time into making it…. Thank you!

  6. charu
    July 28, 2011 | 9:14 am

    Love love love the iPhoto slideshow. And the music you chose. It reminds me of parts of rural india, especially the pictures of the coconut. For some reason I have not heard of the Kuna. I suppose Spanish is a requirement before you go visit? I’d like to know 10 facts about the Kuna! …Hmmm now you’ve inspired me to do a slideshow of my own.
    charu recently posted..Writer’s Dilemma: To Take Notes, Experience, Photograph or All of the Above?My Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 28, 2011 | 9:32 am

      Thanks so much, Charu!! It was mucho trabajo and so, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Does it resemble India a bit? V cool. Perhaps I need to go there. Each time you mention it, I become more intrigued. :) Interested in facts re: the Kuna? Nice. Will keep that it mind when I plan future posts.

      Re: Spanish….you don’t need it to do this type of tour. But it can be very helpful–when you encounter Kuna who speak it. Of course, there are quite a few who don’t. In those cases, you rely on your guide or your phrase book and hope for the best!

  7. Robert Wesler
    July 28, 2011 | 7:37 pm

    Lovely new photos Lisa- you certainly put that new Oly to great use!

    • CB Driver
      July 28, 2011 | 11:04 pm

      Thanks for the positive feedback, Robert–appreciate it! Yeah, I’ve using that camera a lot. I’ve probably taken 4000 photos at this point. Still getting used to the tricky menus. I’m happy with the camera (for now)! :)

  8. Angela
    July 28, 2011 | 10:07 pm

    Wonderful photos, I vote for the surprising facts about the Kuna 😀
    Angela recently posted..A walk around Istanbul, where East meets WestMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 28, 2011 | 11:02 pm

      Hi, Angela. Thanks so much…glad you liked them! And thanks for the feedback re: future posts–appreciate it!

  9. Rohrerbot
    July 29, 2011 | 3:09 am

    Great pics of the islands. The Kuna who I met in Panama were really wonderful people. They were soft spoken and genuine. Most of my contact was with the Ngobe so I’ll have to do some travel next time to this part of Panama. I vote on the Kuna and the Eclipse. Sounds fun:)
    Rohrerbot recently posted..Citrus Magic!My Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 30, 2011 | 12:14 pm

      Hey…hi! Nice that you had the same impression of the Kuna. How cool that you made contact with the Ngobe…I only saw them but didn’t get to speak to them very much. I met some kids near a river and other kids when I volunteered, but not any of the adults. If I return, I’d like to.

      So you like the idea of the eclipse post, huh? Hmmm….looks like that’s the one that people really want to read! :)

  10. Bob Crunch
    July 29, 2011 | 11:08 am

    Thank you so much for posting some of the photos. For some reason my video player wasn’t working so I would not have been able to see any of them. Can’t wait for your upcoming posts.

    • CB Driver
      July 30, 2011 | 12:18 pm

      Hi, Bob. You’re welcome! That’s a shame re: your video player. Sounds like you have a PC. Does your computer allow you to watch right on Youtube? For a direct link, click here. Anyway thanks for checking out the pics…and more posts coming soon!

  11. […] The Beauty of San Blas […]

  12. Neal
    August 11, 2011 | 2:16 am

    Eclipse!!! Most intrigued. Great Slideshow BTW.

    • CB Driver
      August 11, 2011 | 8:35 am

      Thanks, Neal. Really glad you checked it out and enjoyed it! So the eclipse curse thing has you intrigued, huh? Ha, ha,….well, then–I must write that soon! :)

  13. latinAbroad
    August 21, 2011 | 6:42 pm

    Beautiful pictures girl! The Kuna were very friendly and their children adorable. In fact, just last week I made a photo essay of my trip to Panama, including San Blas and the Kuna Yala as well, on my website!! Crazy coincidence =) Here’s the link to my Panama photo essay and trip report
    latinAbroad recently posted..Kissing a wild, Icelandic localMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      August 23, 2011 | 9:19 am

      Hi, Maria. Thanks so much….glad you enjoyed them! The Kuna are wonderful. Really enjoyed meeting them!

      PS: Did you know about their fear of the full moon? I just posted the first part of the story re: how I was there during an eclipse and they sort of freaked out…and then some things went wrong. You might find it interesting…Here’s the link.

  14. Traveling Ted
    August 24, 2011 | 11:38 pm

    Great video. I love how the pictures change by folding upon each other. The music is cool too.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Photos of the week: Beautiful PragueMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      August 26, 2011 | 12:42 am

      Hey, Ted…thanks so much! I’m very happy to hear that you liked the video; it definitely took time to make. Fortunately, iPhoto helped make it possible. So did GarageBand. Anyway, thanks for appreciating it…I appreciate that you did! :)

  15. […] San Blas/Kuna Photo Essay Check out my photos of the islands and the Kuna and check out a lovely photo essay (slideshow with music). You’ll see over 100 photos in just 1.5 minutes. […]

  16. Alan Horton
    December 12, 2011 | 3:31 am

    Thanks for this post. The video montage is wonderful, I loved the images of palm trees, pictures of the Kuna people and the vibrancy of colors of their clothes really came across. You certainly seem like you had an enjoyable time on this trip.

    • CB Driver
      December 12, 2011 | 9:17 am

      Thanks, Alan–for checking it out and for the feedback. Really glad you enjoyed it!

  17. ChinaMatt
    March 9, 2012 | 11:28 am

    Very cool. Wish I could’ve taken a trip to San Blas, but I didn’t plan enough of my short trip to Panama. I just ended up in the rainforest along the Canal, which was still a lot of fun.
    ChinaMatt recently posted..Is It Spring Break Yet?My Profile

    • CB Driver
      March 10, 2012 | 11:35 am

      Thanks, Matt! San Blas was cool….a unique place to visit. The rainforest sounds great, too! I <3 Panama!

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