Exotic Central America

I feel liked I just stepped out of a page of Gulliver’s Travels.  Today I met some of the Kuna Indians living on the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama … and they are TINY! 

The tiny ladies of San Blas islands - the Kuna Indians

This is not an oft-visited spot – certainly not your usual cruise port stop.  In fact the Captain told us today that because the infrastructure of the islands is not developed Seabourn have made a policy of not putting together any organised tours because they simply wouldn’t be up to the Seabourn standard.  Nevertheless, tenders were running all day from our ship at anchor out to one of the larger islands so we could visit and maybe shop a little.

Most of my money was spent on photographs.  You have to pay to take a photo of someone – and you know that’s absolutely fine with me.  We have so much and these people have so little – the least we can do for taking away their image is to leave them a dollar. 

Mom is that a parakeet on my head?

 Even the littlest children have the phrases all down pat “One dollar – picture”.  Oh man, and they are so cute – you just can’t resist doling out dollars left, right and centre.

Very serious

Not only are they cute – they are also pretty smart.  They know the way to the a tourist’s heart.  The kids have brought out their pets and even in some cases dressed them up.  Little kittens with dresses (I am not joking), and numerous chirping parakeets – some tendered and some not.  Even a monkey or two.

It made me really think about what the Spanish thought when they first invaded the coast of Panama and came face to face with these fascinating people.  History tells us what the Kuna Indians thought – they jumped straight into their dug-outs and headed for the San Blas islands to take refuge. 

A matriach from San Blas Islands

Today some of the San Blas islands offer overwater bungalows and rustic style accommodation for snorkellers and divers and those who want to take a trip down the road less travelled.  Whatever your choice it is a fascinating stop.

But … being spoilt …. I was happy to take the tender back to my lovely Seabourn to find my bed prepared for the night with rose petals sprinkled on the duvet……….  Oh did I mention I am spoilt?

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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