Saturday, March 24, 2012

From The Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean Beach

Friday, March 23, 2012:

The first activity this morning was visiting an indigenous village along a river that flows into the Lake supplying water to the Panama Canal Locks.  We had a 15 minute boat ride before arriving at a village along the riverbank.  The homes were built on stilts and had thatched roofs.  The residents greeted us by playing their drums.  We had been warned that their clothing were not western wear. They were definitely dressed as you would imagine indigenous peoples would be dressed. Thankfully the women’s chests were covered with pieces of bead work. Also they paint themselves with a black dye/paint made from plants – we could have gotten tattoos that would last 10-14 days!! We passed!
The thing about this group of people is that in 1958 this village was begun for the sole purpose of training US Military to survive in the jungle. Later NASA individuals were included in the training courses.  Jungle survival is an important part of training. The original indigenous man who began working for the US government passed away this past year at the age of 97.  He taught thousands of our military men how to survive for days in the jungle (if their plane was shot down or if NASA returned to earth in the wrong location) - how to collect drinkable water, what plants to eat, what roots to dig and eat, etc. This village even if it is now located in a National Park has continued in his honor, and several tours now include a visit here. They sell crafts made by the indigenous families to help support the village. They told us about their life and their crafts. The little kids were so cute (those too young for school) – see photos – as we were leaving one little guy grabbed my hand and didn’t want to let go.  I finally coaxed him (without speaking his language) to return to his little friends. When they are school age they go by boat on the 15 minute ride and then by bus to school. We were glad to know they sent their kids to school.  I think they learn Spanish at that point, as they have their own language, and some of the adults did not seem to understand Spanish. They live a very simple life. It was an interesting morning.  
Embera Indian Villagers Welcoming us to their Village - Katuma

Welcoming with Native Instruments
Village Houses - Exterior

Village House - Interior

Men's Native Attire
Woman's Attire with Paint

Mother with Child

Cal with Village Chief and his Wife

We arrived at the Royalton Resort on the Pacific coast by 1:30. LOVELY resort!  We are in a full apartment – maybe timeshare unit. After lunch we sat around a table in the pool drinking margaritas in the shade of the thatched hut!! This is an all inclusive hotel situation! By 4:00 when the sun was not so bright Cal & I began walking the beach.  I found a few shells here whereas in Costa Rica I found NO shells.
Royalton Resort on the Pacific Ocean

What we do every day in Iowa!!!

This resort is on the Pacific coastline southwest of Panama City and you would think we would see the evening sunset. WRONG! We will see the sunrise over the water of the Pacific. It just doesn’t seem right!  We have set the alarm for early in the morning so we can hopefully see the sunrise.  Tomorrow we are going to a village where they make special fabric crafts.   
We cannot believe our time in Central America is coming to an end.  We are going to enjoy the resort before returning to Panama City for one night before flying home. 
Saturday, March 24, 2012:
We were indeed awake at 5:45 for a walk on the beach to watch the morning sun arise.  I wouldn’t want to do that every morning but today was fine.

Sunrise over the Pacific Ocean
After breakfast we drove to the town of El Valle – it is a town situated in an immense dormant volcano.  It is not an ordinary town – it is a place with lots of summer/vacation homes as well as permanent homes of the wealthy.  We also went to their artisan market for those who wanted to shop. 

Flowers at the Market
Vegetables at the Market
Textiles at the Market

Two Young Shoppers
The afternoon was spent here at the Resort – a nap and in the pool. Actually it was cooler today as the sky was cloudy.     
Not much has happened today and we decided to post this blog before we go to dinner tonight.   

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