Sunday, February 5, 2012

Visiting Embera Country

We recently went on a fantastic trip. It included a stop in Panama, where we were fortunate to visit an authentic Embera Indian Village. Because we needed to venture into the jungle, we first had a bus ride, then met some of the indigenous men who ferried us to their village using dugout canoes with motors. It was a 45 minute scenic ride in the canoe.

The Embera are a nomadic tribe. They have settled in an area of Panama which is now one of the country's protected national parks. They are supplementing their livelihood with tourist dollars.

As we arrived, we saw the raised village huts and children frolicking in the water. During our visit, we learned that the children are educated by teachers who come from Colon and live in the village during the week, then go home on weekends.
We were greeted by a band of Embera men who made music as we entered the village. There were also a few apprentices.
Since we had been travelling for quite awhile, an essential trip to the facility proved to be quite the culture shock.

The children hammed it up for the camera as we waited for the food and festivities to begin.
The women cooked tilapia and plantain, then served it to us in an ornately wrapped leaf pouch.

After dinner, we were treated to some entertainment, a snake dance and a monkey dance. Then, we were shown the many varied handicrafts made by the families, including baskets, wood carvings and jewellery. Of course, the items were for sale. I purchased a red and black monkey mask made by a teen girl and a nut bracelet.

The Community Centre

Everyone posed for a final photo and wished us a good trip back.

Since many photos and videos on the Embera people are available on Google, I did not elaborate on their history and lifestyle, but simply descibed our unforgettable experience. 

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