We got up early and got ready to be picked up at 7:30. Unfortunately, they did not arrive until 8:00, but in we got and went off to pick up the other people who were coming on the tour. This took over an hour in downtown Panama City in heavy traffic, going to several different hotels to get a couple of people at each one. Finally we got on the road out of town. It was about an hour's drive to get to a spot on Lake Alajuela, where we transferred into a dugout canoe with a motor on the back. There were 13 of us tourists and our tour guide, Harry, as well as the two Embera men who were handling the canoe. It was about a 40 minute trip in the canoe across the lake and up a tributary river to their village. At times the river was so shallow the two Embera men got out and pushed the canoe thru to deeper water. Luckily we made it without having to get out and push ourselves. When we arrived at the village, there was a band playing welcoming music and the villagers standing around waiting for us. Here is a video of our welcome:
We got seated in a thatched hut up off the ground and the headman gave us a lengthy explanation of how they live and some of their cultural practices. He spoke in Spanish and Harry translated to English for us.
While this was going on, two of the women were cooking us lunch. Then they delivered to us a piece of tilapia and patacones, which are fried plantain, in a cute little dish made of a heliconia leaf. They also prepared platters of pineapple, watermelon, and papaya, as well as bananas for us. A very nice lunch cooked over an open fire.
After lunch we could wander around and look at all the crafts they had for sale. They had carved wooden objects, carved taiga nut figures, woven plates and baskets, jewellery, and some colorful fabrics. Each family in the community (28 families) had a table with things for sale. We also had an opportunity to get one of their temporary tattoos, so I did right away and both Don and Rob did as well. These tattoos are done with a dye from a fruit, so they only last about a week. They use a little two pronged instrument to make the design and are very skilled at doing so. Everyone is tattooed, more or less, and they redo them all the time.
We also had a little walk in the jungle with the herbalist man who showed us some of the plants they use for different things.
Then we all gathered in their thatched recreation area and had some dancing and singing. Finally it was time to go and we all climbed into the canoe and retraced our path. Luckily, we were dropped off first so we didn't have to go thru the downtown torture test again. Traffic!!!
After a bit of a rest, we walked down to Via Argentina and had supper at Trapiche again. Rob thinks he may be suffering from gout so we went past the pharmacy and he got some pills to try. Hopefully, he will be able to be more pain free in the next few days.