Saturday, May 26, 2012

Embera Village

What we wanted to do the most while in Panama was visit a native Embera Indian Village. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that we needed to book a tour weeks in advance.  So, there we were the night before trying to find someone to take us.  Well, we found a guy named Mario and it was quite an experience. He picked us up at the apartment and we set out for the jungle. On more than one occasion we had the impression that he was going to take us out to the jungle, rob us, and leave us for dead. Especially, when he blazed through a check point to avoid a $1 toll. He told us not to worry that he had a disguise and then proceeded to put on a different shirt and sunglasses.  We stopped and bought coconuts from these guys, who not only had coconuts but also a trusty machete and straws.  Atley slurped up the milk en route.

Deep into the jungle the road ended at the Chagres River. Mario hopped out and meet up with an Embera man who gave us life jackets-thank goodness, and helped us into a dug out canoe to head up river.

After about 10 minutes on the river, it started pouring rain.  The Embera gave Atley a bucket to scoop water out of the canoe so we didn't sink.  He was scooping as if his life depended on it. It probably did too. We felt like we were in a scene straight out of National Geographic. Every once in while you would see someone else in the river, like this little boy getting a bath, but for the most part we felt completely deserted and a million miles away from modern civilization.
An hour later we stopped and started hiking deeper into the jungle.  We were soaked from the rain and it made for a slippery and slimy climb into the mountains. As we hiked through the jungle we saw and heard all kinds of interesting things-quick sand, leaves that make great loin cloths, butterflies the size of your head, and later some boys pulling a crocodile out of the river. Of course, we didn't see those until we were finished swimming.

We played for about an hour and then  we headed back to the canoe to go to the village. The people were so excited to see us there and were such gracious hosts.  We loved it. We were greeted with song and Atley was shocked to see a lot of topless women. The people live in grass huts elevated on stilts.  We laughed when they told us that if they needed to leave their kids they just removed the ladder log so that the kids could not get out. They keep a smokey fire going at all times to ward off the snakes and mosquitoes. We learned about all of their natural remedies, how they dye their cloth using different plants, and that one of their favorite foods is WILD CHICKEN aka, Iguana. They are painted with a dye that not only keeps them hairless but also keeps the bugs away. Hello, CAN I GET THE RECIPE? It felt like we went back in time a thousand years. 

They made us a delicious lunch of fish and fried plantains wrapped in banana leaves, not to mention lots of fresh fruit-papaya, mango, passion fruit, bananas, and pineapple.

Finally, after one of the most memorable experiences of our life, they danced for us/with us and we headed home with our new friend Mario.

1 comment:

G&G said...

Whoa, this seems a little scary, but it looks like you had a great time. What an experience and memory to have. Wow......