Right page, featuring our visit to an Embera village in Panama. The journaling reads:
On day six of our cruise, the Pacific Explorer anchored offshore at Playa del Muerto, a beautiful black sand beach fringing the impenetrable Darien jungle. From the ship, one can see the thatched roof huts of the village of the Emberá. After a wet landing on the beach, we were greeted by a band playing for us on drums and flute. The ship’s naturalist guide, accompanied by a man of the village and a handful inquisitive children, led us through the forest to a tour of the village houses, gardens and the school.
Holding to their traditional lifestyles, the Emberá dress in brightly dyed fabric and wear flowers in their hair. Their bodies are stained in elaborate blue-black patterns made with a dye from the jagua nut. The dye, which must be renewed every two weeks, is not only decorative, but also protection against insects and sun.
We were invited to the village commons, where the Chief and the Minister of Tourism welcomed us. Under a pavilion, the band played as the women danced for us, and encouraged all their guests to join in the dance. Then the Emberá spread out their handicrafts for sale, including intricately woven colorful baskets, jewelry, and carvings of cocobolo wood (a variety of rosewood) and offered to paint patterns on our wrists and ankles.
On our way back to the beach, giggling girls accompaning us were eager to see the pictures we had taken. We had no language in common, but when I pointed to their bright necklaces, imitating their bell-like sounds, one little girl answered – “Jinga, jinga!”