27 April 2024

Our local Embera scholars

We learnt a lot from these two ladies about the local Embera culture.

The kids go to elementary and middle school in the next village (by the river). After that, if they want to study, they have to go to the city.

Elections are held every five years. All the local Emberas gather together and people suggest names for their leader (“noco”). As names are suggested, all those who agree stand behind that person. The longest line wins!

Interestingly, they do not eat red meat. That is because, by Panamian law, they cannot keep cows, goats, sheep, horses etc. In fact, we saw only dogs around. They are also not allowed to do agriculture (other than what they need to eat themselves). The law was put in to stop deforestation of the rainforest. Without which, rainfall would be less. Which would affect the water level in Gatun Lake. That would then affect the biggest economic lever of the country – the Panama Canal.

Interestingly, they make alcohol only for celebrating certain events. They do not drink alcohol otherwise. This was surprising to me. Most tribes imbibe some locally grown alcohol – often to smooth the edges of their hardships in life.

I did not see a single person smoking either!

You cannot live in the village if you are not an Embera. If an Embera marries a non-Embera, neither are allowed to live in the village. They can visit though.

The Emberas do not have a fixed place for worship.

The matriarch answered all our questions in Embera. The younger lady translated it to Spanish. And then our guide translated it to English!!

Posted April 27, 2024 by Rajib Roy in category "Vacations

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