Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Emberá Village

Emberá Village - Arriving in Chagres National Park, board your dugout canoe – a vessel crucial to both Spanish settlers and natives – and cruise upriver to the Emberá village. Keep an eye out for monkeys, toucans, and sloths. At the village, the chief offers a traditional welcome. View a performance of native music, song, and dance. Stroll about the village and interact with these gentle people and browse for traditional crafts. Please remember you are a guest in the village: act with common sense and sensitivity to the Emberás’ privacy.

That the official summary of the onshore excursion I took yesterday.

I'm glad that the statement requrests courtesey, but I'm not sure how I feel about characterizing a whole population as "gentle." Probably intended as a compliment, but it's such a passive description and really just a step away from "quaint." Actually, I do know how I feel about it. I don't like it.

I was in a grumpy mood yesterday morning because I am not as far on my thesis as I would like, and I feel like I'm giving up a lot of my time on the boat to write it. Something about compromise making everyone unhappy. Also something about sour grapes. And really, I should shut up. I'm revising my novel while taking a trip around the world.

Whatever churlishness I might have had from the description of the onshore excursion (Jess was the only one who really wanted to go with me) was partly fixed because it attracted some of the more adventurous passengers. In particular, Jess and I met Mark and Nadine, a brother and sister from some suburb in the D.C. area. They are moving to Thailand. More specifically, they are meeting an old friend, a girl named "Rhino" in Bankcock, and subletting her apartment. She will take over their reservation and ride all the way to Southampton to sublet from a friend, who will go to D.C. So these trans-global friends have all worked out their own time share.

I ate a darien. It smelled bad, but it tasted better. I really don't know that I'd want it in a heated apartment in the wintertime, but I'm also not sure what all the fuss is about.

I had wondered if the Embera village would remind me of the Mayans Jess and I encountered in Belize. I was sure that the cultures were more than significantly different, and I would simply be to make the necessary distinctions... but rather than stumble into a minefield of erroneous observations, I'll just say that the village was quite loud and colorful, and that there was no way I could have mistaken it for the Mayan communities we saw. No matter what there was a language barrier and a cultural barrier and an economic barrier (since I'm ideally there to spend some money and leave). So I splurged and got a basket.

What was overwhelming was the density of the village and the density of the jungle just outside. Jess saw a cluster of monkeys, but I saw a toucan, a "Jesus lizard" and a bunch of creepy spiderish things.

Today we're on the Pacific Ocean, and I'm once again on the Lido Deck, trying to read. I think there's a lecture tonight on a foreign affairs thing which I will try to attend...


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