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Panama and the Embera Indians

Mixed feelings.

semi-overcast 28 °C

As usual we are off the boat early. This one is 'My Friend Mario Tours." Good buses, no evidence of seat belts, but has AC. Rey is our guide and was very interesting, he was well versed in the history of the area. The first stop is the canal and we were lucky enough to watch two ships pass through and we watched Coatimondi checking us out for food. In the raccoon family, but sharper features. To me they looked like manic Raccoons. So the main purpose of the trip was to visit the Embera Indians. This tribe used to make their living off the land, but now are limited to the area they are now settle in. They make their living by inviting tourists into their lands and feeding us, entertaining, us and teaching us about their people. I felt a bit vouyuristic, but really with out tourism they would not be able to survive. The Indians had arrived int he area to work on the canal and settle in the location where we visited them, which is now a national park. They would not normally live so close together. At one time they made their living by hunting and slash and burn agriculture.
The village was 1/2 hour away by speed boat. Wooden hulled canoes to be exact that hold a good twenty people. The people are in their traditional day dress which Rey said they do wear all the time. The only change they would make when we leave is that the women would go topless. Also the kids wear western cloths as they come out by boat to school. Their homes are built on stilt with thatched roofs and open sides. I didn't really go for a close up as I felt I was intruding.
The village has no electricity, but there was evidence of at least one or two taps with running water. The food was good, well the Tilapia was a little muddy, but the water there is really muddy so no surprise. The fish and plantain patties were served on a leaf and the fruit was so sweet and juicy.
The chief spoke about the history of their people and they showed us two traditional dances and had us join them for the third. We had our one and only rain shower on our trip back to our starting point.
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Posted by Mari Anne 14:59 Archived in Panama

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