Anchored off Porvenir, we visited the nearby island of Nalunega.
The small island (about 200 by 400m diameter) is home to a Guna community of 500 people. Landing on the beach in our rubber dinghy, we were welcomed by the friendly Guna villagers. Nesto showed us around. He was happy to use his English he had learnt when working on a square rigged sailing vessel for 25 years, before returning to the community he was born into. Now he has a wife and seven children.
The houses are built of bamboo panels tied with string, and palm leaf thatch. Floors are sand – the entire island is only 2m above sea level. As we visited his home, the family were all busy unloading bucketloads of river water which the community canoe had fetched from the mainland. This is boiled for drinking.
The women were all beautifully dressed in bright sarong skirts and blouses which incorporated a mola panel front and back. The molas are intricate works of appliqué and embroidery with patterns themed round fish, birds, and flowers. We have been visted by canoes during our visit to the San Blas with women selling molas, and men selling fish and coconuts.
The women also wore beaded leg wraps from ankle to knee, and gold jewellery including nose rings. Nesto took us to the community kitchen were preparations were being made for a festival the next day to celebrate the coming of age (14 yrs) of one of the village girls. 4 beautifully adorned grandmothers were arranging enormous cooking pots over a fireplace, others were busy preparing plantain.
The most substantial building on the island was the school, made of concrete. An open space was dedicated to a basket ball court, in constant use. The village was busy, with many children running around playing .
The poverty of the villagers was evident but their generosity and warmth of welcome was wonderful.