Friday morning we got on the bus early and took an hour and a half bus ride to the Embera Indian Village. On the way we got a good look at the very poor and poverty stricken side of Panama. It is unbelievable how so much beauty and so much filth can exist so closely together, practically over lapping at times.
We finally entered the national forest and came to the clearing where we were to get on the boats for the final leg of our journey. These boats were made by the Embera Indians, each one carved out of a single tree. What an experience! We pasted iguanas in trees and a harpy eagles nest high up on a cliff.
As we came to the muddy bank leading up to the village we could hear them welcoming us with music. It was surreal, this village that exists pretty much as it did hundreds of years ago. We went into their largest shelter where they had all of their hand made crafts displayed along the outside walls. They told us about their lifestyle, explained their clothing and showed us how they made the woven baskets and plates. They answered any question that was asked. They performed their traditional dances for us and then invited us to dance with them. This was an opportunity I did not pass up. Absolutely amazing. Then they present us with a lunch of fresh talapia and fried plantains, all wrapped up in banana leaves, as well as a spread of fresh fruit. We had a little time after that to wander around the village and to purchase things.
As we got ready to leave and started to head back down the hill a little girl came up and took my hand and walked me back to the bank. She looked up at me with these big brown eyes and i told her she was beautiful. She just smiled at me.
I was sad to go, i wish we would have had the opportunity to stay longer or even over night. I would have given up my 5 star resort in a heartbeat to spend an entire day and night with these people. We loaded into the boat and about half way back our guide cut the motor and we started to drift towards the left bank. He wanted us to get a closer look at the crocodile that was laying on the edge of the water. This is no zoo, you are in their home, in their water, it's amazing (have i said that already?).
We finally got back to the bus and relaxed on the ride back to the resort. The whole experience gave me a new perspective. To be there in the midst of what we usually only see on tv was incredible. This is definitely something i want to do again.
Saturday was sadly our last day in Panama. We took the bus into the strawmarket to pick up a few souvenirs for the kids and folks. As we were waiting for our bus back our guide walked us over to a little city park to show us a two toed sloth that was heading back up his tree. He explained that the sloths live up in the trees and come down only once every 7-8 days. They dig a hole, defecate, cover it up and head back up their tree. We were lucky to see this one crawling across the small grassy area and heading back up into his home. (and they really do move very very slowly)
We had lunch back at the resort marina out on the deck. Below us was their local crocodile and a whole group of turtles. We got to see a huge ship go by on the canal as well.
That afternoon we took our final tour in a relatively small boat on the Panama Canal. Our boat captain knew two speeds: idol and 80kph! We raced down the canal, past all of these enormous ships, to get to monkey island. At our first stop we saw Holler monkeys. The captain would gun the engine, which angered the monkeys and they would come down into the lower trees and make gorilla like noises. You wouldn't think such little monkeys would sound so scary! Then we went further on to where the capuchin monkeys were. They actually came way down in the trees and onto the roof of the boat and would eat bananas right from your hands!
We ate dinner alone that night and skipped out on the final group dinner so that we could get to bed early. We were up at 5am the next morning, had breakfast and left for the airport. The flights home were uneventful and went by pretty quickly. I was more than happy when we got into Dallas international and i was able to once again use my smart phone and text and check my emails. The kids and my folks picked us up from the airport about 6:30 Sunday night. I was glad to be home and with my kids again.