Beyond Borders: A Deep Dive Into the Nomadic Way of Life
I was asked recently for a report on the life of the nomadic people I was recently living among, the Miskitos, who have been living on the northern coast of Nicaragua for the last 20 years or so. My answer – the Miskitos of the highlands, at least as I was there with them – was an almost endless, almost never-ending, stream of stories about life in the highlands. It would fill a book, but this is what I had to share:
The nomadic people of the highlands, who have been living there for at least 20 years, live in tents or shacks and caravans on mule, donkey and/or horse-drawn dromedaries. During the day they graze cattle and sheep, but at night they sleep in makeshift shelters. They live in a constant state of migration, moving to dry land to pasture their animals or go into the jungle to make their living. Their main source of income is farming. Each family has a couple of people who are able and willing to stay in each encampment in order to tend the land and the animals they have. They also sell food to the few travelers they still welcome. They are a small, peaceful, proud, hard-working minority of people who have managed to live almost entirely off the land for the previous two decades, without the aid of government or aid agencies.
I know these people by their nicknames, a kind of family name that only the Miskitos know each other by. They call themselves the “Miskito People,” or the “Nomads,” and a few people call them something else. The people of the highlands call them “Kuna,” the name so often used to refer to the highland tribes who have been living there for hundreds of years. For many of them, the name Kuna is used to refer to them alone, as it is the only name they have.
The people of the Miskito Country live and farm in a relatively small, sparsely populated area, a relatively small portion of the tropical highlands. I never saw a dense population before I traveled through the region during the summer, but I think even on the