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Children of the Moon: San Blas Islands Albinos

Albinos are a common site in the San Blas islands. One out of 145 Kunas carry this genetic endogamic trait.

The condition of albinism is characterized by a significant deficit in the production of melanin, which results in the partial or complete absence of pigment in any part or all of the skin, hair, and eyes. Albinism often results in two congenital and permanent health conditions: visual impairment to varying degrees and high vulnerability to skin damage from ultraviolet rays.

Unlike other parts of the world where albinos face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the grounds of disability and color, and are often excluded from public, "sipus" (Guna word which literally means "white") were given a relevant position in the rich Guna mythology.

Sipus, or the “children of the Moon” had the duty to kill the dragon during lunar eclipses. They had to go out during these events armed with a bow and arrow, which they fired into the sky to prevent the dragon from devouring the satellite.

If you pay attention, albinos of different ages and status can be easily spotted as we walk inside the dense communities closer to mainland. Do not miss the opportunity to interact with the kunas and to learn more about their rich mythology and culture.

It is always possible to venture into any of the communities closer to land to experience life as it was 500 years ago, so just let us know with your reservation. We will be happy to introduce you to our friends.


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