Panama: Isla Embera

First of all, we apologize for the long silence. Kepi had surgery to take care of his brain tumors. The biggest one was surgically removed, but there are two small ones left behind. It’s another emotional roller coaster for us, and the preparation and surgery after care surgery took most of our time. Anyway, we are back and we hope to get back at updating this website weekly.

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After crossing the Panama Canal, we disembarked at Colón. We joined a tour to the Embera tribe’s island village. From our ship, it took us about an hour to reach the shores of Rio Chagres where we took a boat ride bound for Isla Embera.

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The boat ride was refreshing especially that it was like 85 degrees that day. I really enjoyed looking out for wildlife – sloths, monkeys and vultures.
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According to our guide, those Vietnam Grass (light green on photo) were specifically planted there for US military helicopter landing maneuvers in preparation for the Vietnam War.
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Our first glimpse of Isla Embera.
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We were greeted warmly with music and friendly smiles.
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The beautiful women showed us their cultural dances and we were even asked to join them. It was fun.
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The kids were also involved and it’s good to know that they are being taught their traditional dances.
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I always gravitate towards dogs, so these two got my attention. They were napping and relaxing underneath one of the huts.
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We explored the Embera tribe’s traditional huts.
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Actually, these huts reminded me of the Philippines.

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Although we only spent a few hours here, this experience gave us a snapshot of the Embera tribe’s village, culture, traditions, language and lifestyle. The tribe’s chief explained that the rainforest, the source of their livelihood, have been turned into a National Park and they are no longer allowed to hunt or grow subsistence crops as they used to. He also added that they don’t live like this anymore, their children attend school and a majority of Embera families have relocated to more populated areas for better access to livelihood and education.

Isla Embera exists as their connection to their past and a bridge to their future.

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