Monday, July 6, 2009

Into the Jungle!

We disembarked from our 21-person plane, in the middle of a jungle island during the sunrise over the sea. We walked over to the airport “terminal,” which was actually more like a bamboo hut next to a landing strip in the jungle, and met our guide/friend and worldly traveling buddy, Pablo Perez. He led us through the lush and pungent jungle to the ocean where we packed our possessions in a dugout wooden canoe, and paddled to our magical Kuna Island called Mamitupu.

Here’s a link to a description of this fantasy island:

The first day in Mamitupu was crazy! Pablo, a community leader of sorts, gathered all the Kuna mola-making women together in the school courtyard for a market. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in my life thus far. All the women wearing their traditional clothes (mola shirt, arms and legs wrapped with many lines of beads, traditional skirts) with all their tons of children threading in and out of the crowd while their mothers set up their molas on the floor of the school for the market. It was beautiful and sort of a dreamy whirlwind, as we had just gotten to the island and stirred up such a creative frenzy so quickly. I was overwhelmed with the variety and skill in all the molas, there were probably a thousand different designs and prints sprawled in my path. I bought several and helped Natalia select more then 100 molas from the women. Mamitupu, which means mother earth in Kuna Yala, has not had tourists in years (and never children or teens), so our presence greatly affected the community in a positive way.

After our flurry of handcrafted fun, we were exhausted. We returned to our cabana and changed and went for a swim. Our cabana consists of a bamboo and palm leaf hut, with a bed, a light bulb, with a separate cabana with a toilet and a shower. I was pleasantly surprised to have running water and a flush toilet. These are rare luxuries in these parts and we are extremely fortunate! Everything is beautiful here, the forests, the islands, the ocean, the people, I am so excited to explore and experience more in these fantastic San Blas Islands. I can't wait for tomorrow!

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