Tag Archives: culture

Petitioning the Council of Kuna Comarca

Before setting out on our kayak expedition to circumvent the Darien Gap, it was necessary for us to receive the blessings of the Kuna Yala congress. We would have to meet with the Central Indigenous leadership that presides over Tourist activity in the Kuna Territory – a section of Panamanian Caribbean Coast that stretches from the San Blas Island chain to the Frontier of Colombia.

Luckily we had befriended Nemesio: a native of the Kuna Yala, a veteran Kayak guide of the San Blas Islands, and a businessman accustomed to negotiating with the Kuna General Congress. Nemesio already had scheduled an appointment with the Congress to discuss matters relating to his Solar-panel installation business, and had no trouble coupling our petition onto the same visit.  

Our appointment was for one-o’clock sharp but we rolled into the secretarial offices a little after two.

“The Congress is at lunch.� Asserted a grave faced secretary.

I assumed from her tone that the legislative body suffered the burden of a bloated agenda and wouldn’t have time to reschedule. And yet within seconds we were summoned into an upstairs office to present our case.

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El Hermitanio and the French Channel


    While entertaining the notion of getting on a bridge over the Panama Canal to take photos, the police drove by eyeing me suspiciously.  Their expressions encouraged me to look elsewhere.  Further down was a gated entrance to an overgrown patch of land with some abandoned houses. 

     I lifted the heavy chain and guided my bike into the old road, covered with jungle vines and grass, put the bike into a lower gear and pedaled up a steep grade.  As I wound around a bend, I began to feel that eerie sensation that I was not alone. 

     I soon came upon one of the abandoned houses and felt dozens of eyes watching me from the bushes.  I could see movement all around me as if the plants were a bit more terrestrial than I would like.  Something was definitely out there, watching me.

     “Hola� I yelled out, cupping my hands over my mouth to carry the message.

“Buenas Tarrrrddddeeess.� I called out.


   “Buenos Tardes.�  I called out again, looking around for any sign of el dueno de la casa, y nada. I jumped at the sound of two animals crashing  through the foliage just a stone’s throw away.

      Then out of the house and from the bushes, the eyes that had been following me ran out in front.

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