The people of San Blas- The Kuna’s are the native indigenous population of Panama. Their distinctive traditional clothing is well known internationally along with their practice of layered decorative fabric pieces, known as “molas”.
Yesterday I took a trip to El Valle (the mountains) with my friend Lisa. The area is only about 20 minutes away from Coronado, but you would have thought we were entering a completely different part of the country! It was so beautiful and serene driving up the curving road leading to the top of the mountain and winding down to the valley where everyone lives. The views were quite spectacular. Honestly, the mountains reminded me a lot of Kauai because of all the lush vegetation and thriving agriculture. Its a very quiet community where cars and buses are plenty but the most popular mode of transportation is the good old fashioned bicycle. Most who live in El Valle whether they be Panamanian, Canadian, American, or English rarely leave this area, and they will usually tell you that going into Coronado just gives them a headache!
In the town square you will find a fonda, supermercado, bread store, flea market, farmers market, laundromat, and small clothing store. I bought some French Loaf style bread from the bread store, and used it to make chocolate bread pudding for breakfast. Just like all small little towns, you will find a small clinic, police station, fire station, B&B’s, and churches. Most people come to El Valle for the farmers market and flea market. I found a few things to buy at the flea market which most of the goods are hand painted or hand sewn by Kuna Indians. I couldn’t take any pictures of the Kuna’s because they believe it will take a part of their soul. So I’ll just have to describe them: they are all very small women no more than 4 ½ feet. They wear their hair usually in a bowl cut in the front, and if its longer in the back, its covered with fabric of their tribe. They wear beaded bangles all the way up their arms from wrist to elbow and up their legs from ankle to knee. All of the clothing they wear has very bright colors and designs of fabric that you will also find in their purses and decor they sell. They really are quite fascinating to look at, and I have to make myself not stare so as to not be rude.