We had an excellent jungle adventure taking a boat with”Barefoot Panama” on Gatun Lake near Gamboa, Panama. This is part of the Panama Canal water complex. The Panama Canal is just 30 minutes from Panama City. It requires a vast rainforest watershed to feed water to it’s lock system which uses millions of gallons each day. For this reason the canal has to preserve it’s watershed, making for plentiful pristine rainforests. Ross our guide, was an extremely knowledgeable and engaging gentleman. He has an obvious love for nature, culture and history of the country which he shares in a very enthusiastic and entertaining manner. He picked us up in the morning from our apartment in Panama City, and before long I was in the enchanted splendor of the rainforest. Like a sunlit lingering daydream, I was drinking in beautiful, natural monkey sights and sounds. The capuchin monkeys covered the trees, carrying their babies with the large dominant male in the foreground among chatters, shrieks with his family leaping and climbing the vine covered jungle forest.
The above picture in case you did not notice was the dominant leader of the group. Each group is usually 15-30 monkeys. We then continued our peaceful boat trip winding our way through grassy reeds. The sun seeped through the many layered ceilings of foliage.
We stopped again to marvel at another large troop of tiny monkeys called Geoffrey’s Tamarin Monkey.It is found in Panama and Columbia. It is black and white with a red brownish nape and white triangles shape patch in front of it’s head. They chattered and danced in a large tree next to the water.I looked over and saw several smaller monkeys in a nearby bush.
We saw numerous beautiful multicoloured iguanas large and small, and I heard the howler monkeys base tone in synchronicity close by.
Glenn then did some aerial photography for Ross of the jungle(more on this later!) and then made our way through the Panama Canal in our small boat. We were now on our way to visit the Wounaan tribe and needed to travel to get on a different boat.
A young boy from the tribe picked us up at a unique spot. We got on the boat, and a could feel the heat, mist and steam from the forest amidst tropical bird sounds. A toucan flying with it’s significant long beak caught my eye. We arrived at the village for an extremely educational experience!
According to “intercontinentalcry.org”The Wounaan are a Panamanian group based originally in the Darien region. They are also known as the Wounana, Wound Meu, Noenama and by the homogenizing name Choco used to group together numerous Indigenous groups. They are a sub group of the Embera-Wounaan people, have a population of approximately 6,800 and speak Wounaan dialects originating from languages of the Chocoan family.Most Wounaan specifically inhabit villages within or just outside two Embera-Wounaan Comarcas. A Comarcas according to the dictionary, is an administrative region for an area with a substantial Indian population. Outside of these Comarcas some still live along the Darien rivers.Traditionally the Wounaan are/were semi nomadic people and lived by hunting, gathering and practicing swidden agriculture to grow bananas, corn and roots amongst other crops. Wounaan people are particularly well known for their bowl haircuts and elaborate body painting achieved using woodblocks. The Wounaan are also famed crafts people, creating intricate basket work and carvings. The goods produced by these talented artisans provide an important source of economic income. We had a detailed explanation with translation from Ross about their traditional life. We then did a hike through the jungle with a knowledgable explanation of tree,plants and medicinal herbs from the chief of the tribe with Ross expertly translating.Shown with me is the water tree.
Glenn did aerial photography with a very enthusiastic and curious audience.
I bought a beautiful colourful hand dyed sarong purple and pink and turquoise which I will always cherish.
My next blog will be about the expat beach town Coronado. From there we will go to El Valle, and then continue to travel the expat communities in Panama.