The Isthmus... The Kuna

April 27, 2016.

 The Guna Yala is an autonomous region of Panama off the Caribbean coast near the border of Columbia. It's been known by a few names, San Blas and Kuna Yala. I've traveled there by sailboat which is the best way to see the area. It was very romantic to criss cross the area and interact with the local population. The sailboat allows you to slow down and see how life unfolds daily for the Kuna. The indians would paddle up to the boat and sell freshly caught seafood, fruit and bread. The Kuna would either paddle or sail their cayucos during their daily activities. 

A Kuna drawing on Avenida Central. April, 2016.

     Anyways, when I was in the Guna Yala I was able to make many beautiful photographs of the Kuna. It was easy and they weren't constantly turning away. The photograph below is of a group of Kuna women sitting on a bench on the Cinta Costera. I raised my camera and of course they turned. It's a fascinating experience for me to see this. Does the city living change their attitude towards city dwellers? It's interesting because most people think I make money off of photographing them. Please, let me dispel a rumor or thought that I make any kind of money from photographing people. I do it because it's in my DNA to tell stories. It's a very difficult profession and discipline. Once I put my camera down they relented. Then as I engaged them in conversation and I explained to these ladies how I have traveled through their homeland they were interested in hearing my experience. As a gesture I gave them a card of mine, the image on the card is a Kuna woman in a cayuco. The women were taken with the images. After that I could see the ideas running through their head.

—Andrew Kaufman

Kuna on a park bench. April, 2016.