Visiting the Embera Indians

Added 21 Mar 2015

We exit the Panama Canal early morning and by 7am we are anchoring in a beautiful natural harbour outside Portobelo. Yesterday we decided to alter our itinerary from San Blas to Portobelo to save potentially uncomfortable sailing conditions. Portobelo is a small, sleepy town around two and half hours from the Panama Canal exit at Colon. Richard and Dawn have arranged a “Plan B” excursion to visit an Embera Indian Village.

We join private buses in Portobelo and drive through villages and countryside to reach the Salamanca River. Here we transfer to dug-out boats for the trip across the Alajuela Lake and along the Pequenin River to reach the Purru Embera Village. The dug-our boat trip is exciting to say the least! Let’s just say that quite a few of us got wet due to water splashing in. When we enter the Pequenin River we are heading upstream. The water level is low so the boats ground on the pebbles from time to time. The Embera Indians are clearly used to this. They jump in and out of the boats and man-handle them.

We make it to the village and are greeted by traditional music. There are children happily playing in the river and on the bank. It is a friendly welcome. We learn about the village and the Embera way of life and enjoy a delicious lunch snack of Tilapia fish wrapped in banana plant leaves. There is a demonstration of some typical Embera dances and time to shop for locally made souvenirs.

The journey home is equally exciting. We are heading downstream, and travelling with the wind across the lake. Richard is in the front of one of our boats and gets completely and utterly soaked from top to toe. No one seems bothered, especially Dawn.

Back in Portobelo we shuttle guests back to our ship using our zodiac taxis. Our jetty is conveniently adjacent to a nice little café bar, so some of us enjoy a local beer first.

This evening we enjoy our Captain’s Cocktail Reception and Dinner. Captain Andreas tells a few stories and introduces us to some of the crew that has looked after us so well during our voyage. We make sure we thank them heartily.