Monday, February 15, 2016

A day with The Embera Tribe

It's 7am & I am ready to go. I cannot wait for our tour of the Embera Drua Tribe. A wooden canoe awaits with our Embera guides Albeño & Ramiro, to take us for our ride through the Chagres National Park. We passed two other tribe villages along the way to our first stop, a waterfall. A little trek over rocks and a few corners later I was wading through the waterfall, Albeño tried to catch some fish for us. We had the place to ourselves for about 15 minutes & like clockwork many other tourist boats began to arrive. Time for us to duck out of here and head to our village. The amazing part is our tour goes to the furthest away village about a 1hr boat ride from the dock. Most tours will not go the distance making this village pretty special with very little tourists.

We were welcomed to the village by sounds of drums (made from turtle shells), flutes and colourful hibiscus flowers. The tribe leader told us why they had been forced to move away from the Darien Province to where they are now and how new laws prevents them from hunting, farming and fishing within the national park. Our lunch consisted of fried fish, patacones and plenty of fruit. After lunch, we met an older lady who was making rice and pounding flour for patacones. A little girl called Julie stole the show dancing & trying to impress her grandmother. Before we left the tribe did a dance for us. They also explained about their outfits and that the women's outfits cost about $30 to make while the men's only cost about $4. The tribe make their money by weaving baskets, bowls & masks and selling them through out Panama.

We booked our tour with Panama Travel $100p.p but I would not recommend them solely because of our guide José. Our guide was drinking heavily during our trip which made me uncomfortable since he would be driving us back to the city later that day. The tribe did not speak much English and during a presentation, he decided that he would sit back & relax, leaving us without a translator. However, there was another tour made up of two people. Their guide was Kat of Kats Tours who I actually recommend. She translated for us because our guide was too busy eating peanuts and drinking beer. She explained a lot more about the village for her group. Thank you Kat for taking us under your wing for 2 hrs.

More on Panama here

Photo by Farah Khan

Photo by Farah Khan

coming from the waterfall

A number of families live within this tribe

Our lunch

Leaving the village