Where is MY EYE PATCH!? and my bottle of RUM!!!

>> Thursday, August 18, 2005

Maybe its the summer time, maybe its Guyana Gyal and her stories... maybe its a few other things... but I've decided to do my very own "survey" of the Caribbean. Of course this study will be very immature, just like the rest of my book reviews, but I definitely plan on doing some serious literary island hopping.

oddly enough, since I love to travel, I haven't been to the Caribbean islands yet. Oh wait, I think I'm lying... I guess technically I have! When I was in Panama visiting a friend, we went for a weekend to this tiny island of the coast of Portobelo. Part of the reason I haven't gone to any other places is because it has never appealed to me to stay in a resort. To me, visiting a new place means, learning about the culture, meeting and observing people there going about their everyday life.

Caribbean has been fascinating me since early kid days of reading pirate books, I didn't want my first experience with it to be on an organized, cookie cutter resort. Come on, when I was little I would draw anchors on my arm wanting to be a pirate! There aren't any pirates in the Caribbean anymore! You may say... well... how acquainted are you with the Panamanian banking industry?? (Shhhh- I did NOT say anything.)

Anyway, point is, so far the only time I've been to the Caribbean was when we went to the San Blas Islands. It was in fact a resort also, but a "different" type of resort. You see these islands are basically an autonomous region since 1920, with their own rules and ways of living and each island is ran by a chief. I'm not going to go into too many details (because I don't know them) but what I remember is that you need a permission to visit the islands and there is only a certain number of visitors allowed to stay on an island at a time. They also ask you not to run around the islands nEKed, basically "no shirt, no service AND YOU'RE OF THE ISLAND" policy.

The "resort" we stayed at consisted of a tiny island with about 7 straw huts. Yes they were definitely straw! And when it rained, our the second night there, the rain was dripping right on top of your nose. During the day we were dropped of on a neighboring island which was bigger and for a second there we panicked that no one would come back for us! Aaaaahhh!!! So we decided to start scouring for food. Just in case. I found a coconut but could not figure out how to crack it open... Yep... we would have been totally screwed if the Kunas hadn't come back for us. Thank goodness they did.

I don't even want to go into the details of how gorgeous it was, and how nice it was to fall asleep on the beach (but wake up an hour later because it was chilly and run back to the hut.) You can imagine I'm sure.

Here are some links just in case you can't imagine:

This guy took great pictures of the islands, and the Kuna Indians.

More pictures of Kunas and their villages.

And I couldn't believe I found a site that sells Molas! The traditional tapestries made by the Kunas. Also great site with info, and I guess they're based over here in da Bronx! ;)

So on one of the days, we went on this little tour of a village, at yet another neighboring island (there are like a couple of hundred islands there). The women are dressed so elaborately and colorfully. Apparently every village has this meeting house where they have discussions about everything and anything. What's funny is that this meeting house is also a site for alcohol fermentation! Nice! Kunas rock!

Every village also has a Shaman, a medicine man... So of course in an attempt to sample everything... I happened to be sort of sick when I was there. My friend and I went to talk to the ladies who prepared our dinners and we explained that my throat hurt and I couldn't breathe and all that good stuff. The plan being obviously to be taken to the shaman and cured... but you know what the ladies said? "We'll make you a really strong tea with honey and lemon! It'll cure you in no time!" QUE!!!! That's it!?!? I guess I was not going to be sampling black magic on that trip.

Oh, wait- so what was the point of all this reminiscing? Yeah- I want to learn about the Caribbean and when I finally go island hopping I want it to be a real experience. (Hey, so when I'm reading I'll be on the look out for sugar related gossip.) Speaking of WHICH! The other day I was reading the beautiful FT and there was a spread about Europe's plan to cut the amount of sugar prices!?!? I'm goint to try that next time I go shopping. How much? $68? Oh, well how about I just give you $38 instead! Brilliant!

Remember kids: throwing something against a rock doesn't always crack it open... (stupid coconuts!)

So the lesson is: if you're exurting too much pressure and not getting desired results - most likely there is be a different and better way of doing it!!


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