2021 Life Logs, Day 55: Ready to Transit the Panama Canal
Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Weather: Mostly Sunny, A Little Windy; High 47, Low, 38 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
I spent my day in the San Blas Islands today and it was glorious. But in checking out a few things to make sure I had it right, I came across an article reporting that the Kuna Indians, an indigenous group of Panamanian people, are in the process of leaving their homes on the islands and moving to the mainland of Panama due to sea rise caused by climate change. It made me so sad to think of them losing their independent island life. And while researching, I saw that the area is no longer called the San Blas. When Mark and I were there in 2006, it was referred to both as the San Blas Islands and Kuna Yala. But in October of 2011, it became Guna Yala when the Government of Panama recognized the claim by the Kunas that ‘Guna” was a closer representation to the Kuna language. All of this piqued my curiosity as to how the Kunas gained their independence from the Panamanian government in the first place. So, I researched a little more. I learned that the Kunas had originally come from an area that is now in Columbia. In the 1600’s when the Spanish came into that area, the Kunas moved westward to the Darian region that is now in Panama. They lived there peacefully by their own laws and customs until the 1900’s when the Panamanian government moved to Westernize them. The Kuna men started wearing modern clothing, but the Kuna women refused. They have a very distinctive dress called a tulemola which is very colorful with intricately designed and embroidered panels called molas. They also wear distinctive beaded bracelets, red head scarves, and have pierced noses. An American who had taken up their cause helped them wage a revolution and in 1925 the American government intervened. Eventually the Kunas won their battle and have been allowed to live in their own region of Panama following their customs, ruling themselves, with the women still wearing their traditional clothing. In my writing today, I finally sailed away from Guna Yala, reached the Panama Canal region, and tomorrow I will write about that transit and reach the Pacific Ocean. I have been writing for a complete month now and am not even a fourth of the way through year one of The Voyage of Windbird. Last night in my log I said it would take the rest of 2021 to finish this book. I think that was not realistic. At this rate I will not get through year one until the end of May. It is quite a project. I just hope I continue to enjoy it as much as I am right now.