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A mile or so up the rio diablo . Kunas who live on nargana paddle up river to fill their water barrels . I think they could easily pipe water to the village , but they prefer paddling up river and bringing their water back . It is very nice paddling listening to the birds and enjoying the beauty of the river . I think it is the oropendola bird that nests in trees at a certain place along the river . Their nests hang from the ends of branches looking like bee hives . The reason why I write about them though is because they have the most melodious and resonant song of any bird I’ve ever heard . It sounds as if it is coming from a marimba with some reverb thrown in . Deep and rich and resonant . Percussive .They sing in 5 to 10 note long lines . Each one sounds about the same which only seems to make it more pleasing to the ear . The way music you like gets better the more you listen to it . If I’m not mistaken , and this is a pretty big if , they looked rather uniformly drabby brownish black when perched but when they flew a bright yellow band was revealed that went all the way around their body across their breast through the base of the wing across the back making a perfectly uniform banana yellow ring right around the entire bird . Jaw droppingly beautiful . It seemed like two
different species of birds . So I got the feeling that paddling up and down the river quenched more than a physical thirst for the Kunas . I think personally the Kunas are doing a pretty good job integrating technology and tourism with their traditional culture . But that’s a subject for an anthropology PhDs so I’ll just leave that be . If you want to read an entertaining blog about backpacker travel between Columbia and panama , where there are no roads , read twentysomething burnouts

20140406-070236.jpgthey may be tending crops , cutting bamboo or other building materials , getting firewood , care taking a family grave site , collecting coconuts , or something else I have no idea of

20140402-203334.jpgI saw a lot of beautiful little island hotels all over kuna yala . Lots of small outboard powered boats taking rows of kids to school in the morning , just like school buses everywhere , and others moving Kunas and travellers from island to island . It’s busier than you’d think .

20140402-195437.jpgeach island community has its own mix of traditional kuna and technology . I was talking to Giovanni who had paddled a mile or two from mamitupu to achutupu to see his espoza who was pregnant with their first child . Do you know everybody in achutupu ?, I asked . He smiled and said yes . So I looked him in the eye and I said e-v-e-r-ybody ? Big smile . Yes . Kids grow up in communities without strangers , without vehicles , surrounded by beach and ocean . I saw a lot of little kids flying kites . And when I looked at one up close it was a bit of plastic shopping bag , sticks and string . It flew great . Kids canoe daily with mom and dad . Still , They love the new technology of tablets and smartphones . Mostly all solar powered . So they paddle everywhere , transport water in canoes from the mainland , use photovoltaics and digital Internet to stay connected to each other and the world . My impression is that they are very social people . They live very close together . I don’t know how land / house ownership works there yet . But only Kunas can “own” land and Kunas aren’t generally permitted to marry non Kunas . The degree of adherence to tradition varies from island to island .


Soon it will be time to head north again to see the Morgan sail for the first time in 100 years . ” although she was ours she belonged to the sea ” , from Gordon bok song – we built this old ship .