Old but new: Viva progress through deceleration! – Part four of my visit to the Guna Yala

Alcohol, music, dance, unknown substances and limited access -sounds like a (wannabe) hipster party, but it wasn´t none.

With the Innamutikit ceremony, the Guna Yala celebrate the first period of a girl. Everyone is invited to the party – as long as you´re an adult and an inhabitant of the village. I fulfilled 50% of the requirements only. Fortunately, the family of the girls and I made a deal (ok, it sounds bad up to this point, but just wait): I can participate and take pics in exchange for leaving the photos on the laptop of the village teacher.

The two girls being celebrated seemed to be anxious. And given the circumstances, it was no wonder at all: They didn´t know what will happen during the ceremony; they found themselves in the focus of attention and they might be married after this and the a few months later celebrated Innanuga ceremony. But only theoretically, as the customs changed and the families wait with it for a few more years.

The girls got traditional clothes for the ceremony. Most of the adult women of the Guna Yala wear the traditional clothes in their daily routine. The two girls were painted with a dark blue/ black paint won from the Jenipapo tree (a kind of Latin American henna). The paint fades out after a week and is often used by the local women for ornamental purposes.

After all that information one might think that the Guna Yala is a strictly patriarchic society, but the Guna Yala women occupy a strong position within the local culture and meet the visitors confidently.

The official party drink is the Chicha Fuerte, a beverage prepared out of fermented corn. Until a few years ago the saliva of the older women has been used to speed up the fermentation process, but now they just wait for eight days – Viva progress through deceleration!

The music varied during the ceremony – the traditional dances and songs were interrupted by modern salsa and cumbia rhythms from a small CD radio – a concession to the younger participants of the ceremony.

The men sat in small groups with their own “gang colors” and seemed to be involved in a kind of dance battle every now and again. The women sat apart from the men and dind´t start to dance and drink until late at night.

The two girls stood with their mothers and invited the dancing and smoking (didn´t get to know what) participants to taste their Chicha Fuerte drink. The younger villagers sat closer to the entrance and followed the worldwide established standards – to listen to the music and to establish new personal drinking records…

At 1 a.m. I met the young boat owner, who promised to bring us to the coast, swaying to and fro like an old frigate. It was slightly unsettling, as he told us to be ready at 5 a.m. And there were consequences to it…

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