Welcome to PANAMA!

The summer 2016 Trip to Panama was truly a once in a lifetime experience. To be immersed in a place so full of culture and life was nothing short of amazing. From the first night in Panama as we drove down the highway, my eyes grew wide, taking in all the signs in Spanish, the tall skyscrapers, and bright lights.

The first Sunday as we ventured out to meet the people of the indigenous community of Embera, I excitedly tried to take in everything I saw. The ride up there soon became a humbling experience. To see the tiny homes made out of concrete, and streets lined with trash shocked me. Even back home in the US, I had never seen a community in such a state. As we continued to travel down bumpy, uneven roads and made our way to the River, excitement began to fill me once again. As all of us boarded onto the tiny boat and made our way down the river, I just couldn’t believe I was here and was extremely excited to learn what was waiting for us.

From the moment we arrived at the land of the Embera tribe, I felt honored to be in their presence. From their colorful wardrobe, to the musical welcome, their culture and traditions were loud and captivating. The young and old welcomed us with smiles. Even though they spoke in their native language which I could not understand, I listened intently. Their land spread wide, full of small huts. Logs lined these homes and were used as climbing devices to gain entrance inside. Animals from lizards to chickens roamed across the land. Young children played in the dirt, laughing and giggling. To be allowed access into their home. To see how they lived amongst one another in simplicity was truly amazing. I don’t believe an individual in the United States can even bear the thought of living with no electricity, including myself, and here on this land it wasn’t even heard of. My experience with the Embera tribe was one of my favorite moments. From the delectable fried fish and plantains, to meeting the midwife of the community, and even engaging in their cultural dance at the end of our tour. The experience was a warm welcome to the country of Panama.

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