Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | January 27, 2013

Achus in Achutupu

N 9° 33.9′   W 78° 51.5′

Banedup, West Lemmons, Kuna Yala


12/30 – Achutupu means “Dog Island” in Kuna – “achu” for “dog” and “tupu” for “island”. There were dogs here, as we have seen on other Kuna islands, but in keeping with the island’s name it seemed that they had more dogs than most. It was not uncommon for the dogs to accompany their masters on sea ventures. The Achutupuans seemed pleased to see the Mar Azul achus on deck and often smiled and waved as they passed by, pointing to their achus.

Like the Mamitupuans, these folks were very industrious too, with streams of ulus going from town to the mainland each morning, returning in the early afternoon with food items, palms and wood. Many Achutupuans were sailors, adding a removable mast and sail to their ulus, a wise strategy since the mainland was about a mile from the village.


Sailing ulu in Achutupu

No fee was charged here but I more than made up for it in mola purchases. Shortly after we arrived a little boy and girl paddled out to see if I wanted to buy any of their mother’s molas. The boy, Fabian, was probably about 10, and his job was to paddle and negotiate sales. The little girl of about 5, Norma (I suspected they had Kuna names too) furiously bailed the whole time we talked. The molas were of the entire blouse variety that either had or would be worn by a Kuna woman or young girl. They were pretty and I imagined I would not find as many whole blouse molas when we moved on to the more tourist-oriented Kuna areas. I bought one.

About an hour later, they paddled out again, this time with new stock. I had visions of them raiding the town clotheslines, but I’m sure Kuna kids are honest and believed them when they said that these too were made by their mother Norieta. There were more unique creations among them and the little boy was a good salesman. I added to my collection. I had to smile thinking that back home their parents would be arrested for allowing two small children to paddle half a mile offshore in a leaky craft with no life preservers. I bet the kids were excellent swimmers.

The next day two women and a little girl visited and I added another beautiful four layer mola blouse with a seashell design to my growing collection courtesy of Betza. She said it took a month to stitch.


Betza (center) stitched this pretty full-blouse mola with an intricate sea-shell design

Four layers of fabric, with edges cut and folded under to reveal a color below, then hand stitched. Additional design is overlaid on top.

We found a weak cell signal here as we had in Mamitupu, but no sim card. We can use our Kindles for simple texting and to access mobile internet sites, but it is a painful and slow process and surfing and complex tasks like checking mail scans and banking are pretty much impossible.


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