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Guanidup, San Blas, Panama

Growing up in Panama City, it was uncommon for locals to venture to the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of approximately 368 islands owned by the indigenous Kuna. Well, the area was called Kuna Yala when I was growing up, but recently the Congreso Guna General decided to clarify their alphabet, and as a result concluded their native language has no ‘K’ equivalent. The region is now officially called Guna Yala.

Until recently, there were no roads across the cordillera — no easy way of going from Panama City’s Pacific shore to the San Blas Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. It still remains a rather isolated part of the country, with one winding road that has been washed away in some parts. Only 4×4 SUVs are allowed to go beyond a certain point. Another option was flying into El Porvenir, but I heard conflicting stories about the airport being closed, and the airline flying the route going bankrupt.