Friday, February 19, 2010

Hidden People in Iceland?!

I've been searching for family friendly travel destinations for my family's vacation this summer... Iceland came to the top of the list so I did some googling.

Did you know there's hidden people in Iceland?! The Icelandic people call these elves/little people Hulduf√≥lk. They say some Icelandic people built small churches to try to convert them to christianity. Why does everything have to revolve around religion and trying to get everyone to believe the same things you do?

These hidden people are just a myth as there are no pictures or truly confirmed places where these people live. There are speculations that they live in the caves.

Small people are fascinating. When I visited Panama last March, we went to the Kuna Yala Islands. It's here that they say the second shortest civilization lives (the first being somewhere in Africa). The Kuna are indigenous people that live on a collection of 400+ small white sand and coconut tree islands on the east coast of Panama.

The culture of the people is incredibly virgin – with virtually no influence of other cultures until recently. Tourism has increased, though if you travel there you truly need to immerse in the culture of the local people. When Samantha and I visited, we landed in the Carti airport and waited to be picked up by “Franck.” We waited almost two hours until someone named “Franklin” came to get us. I didn’t really understand what was going on – but everyone seemed confident that we should get in his banana boat. Having no other option, we handed over our luggage and jumped aboard. Some 2+ hours later, after island hopping and running errands with Franklin, we arrived to “Franklin’s Island.” He showed us to our hut and told us lunch was served at noon.

The island was about a quarter mile around, the whitest sand I had ever seen and covered in coconut trees. Our hut was built of sticks and straw with two simple mattresses. Hammocks hung between trees and that’s where we spent the majority of our time.

Franklin took us, along with a bunch of Israelis from the island, to the “main island” where he lived. We saw the native Kuna peoples donned in their decorative molas and beaded jewelry. The people are indeed short, as most of the men were quite a few inches shorter than me.

The albinism, due to inbreeding of the shrinking population, is apparent with many children running around with pale white skin though their facial features and body structure was exactly the same as other Kuna children. The adults don’t like you to take any pictures unless you ask them politely though most women will hide and shy away from cameras. The kids on the other hand love it and will ask to see the instant picture on your digital screen.

Our visit to Kuna Yala was totally peaceful and you certainly feel one with the earth, water and air. The rugged conditions and the toilet that is ‘directly connected to the ocean’ meant very primitive living. I wasn’t quite prepared for this type of traveling but loved it nonetheless. If you ever get the chance to visit, you won’t regret one moment of it! We all need to do our part to support the Kunas and help preserve their native culture.

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