Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 2 in Panama!

Hola todos! Today was day 2 in Panama. We visited the Embera Quera village. The Embera Quera village is a private community consisting of 12 families (78 people) of native Panamanian indians. The Embera Quera people bought the land six years ago after leaving Colombia due to the drug trade. Drug dealers attempted to force the natives to make drugs and when they refused, the drug dealers retaliated by killing and burning their houses. They searched around for land and made a deal with an acquaintance to buy his farming land.

We were joined today by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Griffiths and her family. It was a treat to share our experience with them! We got to the Embera Quera village by canoe powered by motor and operated by some of the natives. When we arrived, the residents of the village greeted us with music and traditional dance. During our tour of the Embera Quera village, we were able to see the houses of all of the natives, the school where the Embera Quera children learn, and we learned about herbal medicines from the village doctor named Miguel Flacco. We ate chicken and tilapia, fresh pineapple, and yuca root (which is like a potato) for lunch. Everyone agreed that it was delicious!

We also had the opportunity to get traditional Embera Quera (temporary) tattoos. A lot of us got tattoos on our arms and wrists painted on by the natives using an ink that was made up of fruit juices. We also had the opportunity to buy the handicrafts of the Embera Quera women. All of the money that the natives of Embera Quera receive goes to a fund to help them buy supplies to build houses and buy gasoline so they can cook and charge their cell phones (which are the only method of communication with people outside the village).

Our visit to the Embera Quera village was phenomenal. It was a once in a lifetime experience that none of us will forget. That's all for today and tomorrow we visit the Panama Canal!

 - Emily and Boqian

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