Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Step Back In Time.....Embera Drua

Today we took a step back in time, and visited the tiny village of the Embera Drua.  One of seven indigenous tribes that still exist in Panamá, the Embera live in tiny, thatched huts along the Chagres River.  Surrounded by over 100 hectares of national park consisting mostly of dense, tropical rain forest, we felt as if we walked right into the pages of National Geographic Magazine.

It All Started Here
One Of The Guides
Our Friends In A Passing Boat

Making His Way Through Shallow Waters

The Waterfall and Swimming Hole

Clyde and Terry

One Of The Guides
Yes Ladies,This Is What We Had To Look At Today

He Didn't Need A Gym To Get Those Muscles
Our adventure began in a traditional, dugout canoe with a motor, that took us on a 45 minute ride up the Chagres River.  About half way up the river we stopped, to take a hike to a waterfall and a swimming hole.  The hike was rocky, steep at times and sometimes slippery but the young, hunky, Embera men were more than happy to lend a hand along the way.  Not to mention that the young men wore nothing more than loin cloths, which showed off their tight "assets" and muscular bodies.  After a dip in the cool, clear water we hiked back to the canoe to head up river to the village. 

The Welcoming Committee

An Embera Woman
No Bra Is Worn Under The Beaded Top

An Important Female Leader In Embera Drua

Our Host Inside The Hut

Traditional Embera Hut

Serving Up Lunch

A Wash Basin That Sat On The Floor In The Middle Of The Room,
For Our Hands After Lunch

As our canoe made its way up the river, our eyes took in the amazing forest vistas that encircled us.  Large green palm leaves hung limp over the water as vines hung down amid the thick brush.  We drove by white sandy beaches where birds flocked and hundreds of white butterflies hovered over the jungle landscape.  Our eyes stayed open wide as we searched the jungle for creatures, enjoying the cool spray of the water sprinkling our bodies. 

As our boat approached the village our ears tuned into the sound of beating drums and flutes, as we were welcomed by a band of six young boys waiting on the shore.  An array of tiny thatched huts on stilts filled the landscape with a blanket of white sand below.  Smack in the middle of these rustic huts, stood a blue and silver phone booth.  The friendly Embera people welcomed us with open arms to the place they call "home sweet home." 

We were directed into a large main hut filled with long, wooden couch like seats centered around a wooden vat of water with leaves floating on top.  Here one of the Embera men told us about the history of their tribe as well as customs, clothing and how things were made.  He spoke only in Spanish and there was a translator, but she was hard to hear from where we were sitting.  Next we were served a lunch of fried fish and pantacones (fried plantain chips) on a carved out wooden plate.  We soon found out the vat of water and leaves was a wash basin for our greasy hands, which we used for eating.

After lunch we were free to roam around the village and look through their home-made crafts that were for sale.  Since the Embera people are not allowed to work in the private sector, making money on tourism is their only means for survival.  They are however, allowed to work on farms in exchange for food to feed the village.  The villagers were friendly and willing to answer any questions, pose for pictures or show us around their huts.  Then they entertained us with some traditional dances and offered tattoos made from vegetable dyes that lasted for ten days. Since we still had time left before departure, we took another dip in the river before climbing back into the canoe for the ride home.  None of us realized that getting our temporary tattoos wet would make them disappear, which they did, but at least we took pictures. 

Jennifer Showing Embera Kids Pictures Of Themselves From Last Years Visit

What an amazing experience to see how simple life can be.  They have no mortgages, no car payments, no electric bills, and no Internet.  Their children play outside with other children, swim like fish in the lake, and breath in fresh air.  A life so simple, yet so complete and happy that they enjoy sharing it with visitors. 

Two Room School

All The Modern Conveniences

A Log Ladder

A Baby Being Rocked In A Cradle
It Was A Piece Of Fabric Strung Up

Kids Playing

These Girls Seemed To Be Looking For Ants

The Embera Drua, a little bit of living history in the middle of our modern world.  A truly fascinating experience, and a must see for everyone visiting or living in Panamá.  Now this is the culture I wanted to experience here, and today we got to see it and live it first hand.....along the gringo trail.

Traditional Dancing

More Dancing

No Explanation Needed....Ummm

More Dancing

Jennifer Joined In
She Organized The Group Trip Today

Still More Dancing

Embera Children With Tattoos
The Vegetable Dyes Help Repel Bugs Too

Facial Tattoo

Terry And Sharon's Tattoos

Girls Hangin Out

Embera Eye Candy

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