Costa Rica and Panama Elderhostel Cruise January-February 2006

Cruise Day 6 (January 28): Panama's Darien Jungle  --Click here for cruise map--

We prepared for a bumpy overnight cruise across the Gulf of Panama by taking Bonine, with an extra dose at 1:30 AM when it got particularly rough.  This left us a bit groggy for our buffet brunch on the sundeck.  We boarded our Zodiacs at 11:30 to visit the Emberá native village on Playa de Muertos (Beach of Death) -- it proved to be a good name, as our  return Zodiac trip through the heavy surf was exciting, to say the least! Since there are no roads and the beach is not protected, only small craft are able to approach the beach. Since the Pacific Explorer floats in only 10 feet of water, Cruise West is the only commercial passenger ship able to visit this indigenous tribal village.  These friendly people live in small groups, in thatched huts on stilts.  Wearing little clothing, they decorate their bodies every month with dyes extracted from local plants. They subsist on whatever they can grow, gather and catch (very often with spears and bow and arrows).  Villagers performed dances for us, and gave demonstrations of grinding corn and extracting sugar from cane. Their tightly woven baskets and carvings were beautiful. We visited several homes and took pictures of delightful children. The ship's crew continued the tradition of playing a soccer game against the locals, winning 1-0. There were several armed soldiers present, to thwart drug trade. Giovanni led the naturalist walk through the dense rain forest, and it rained!

--Click on pictures for full-screen views--
Welcome hut
Home on stilts
Grinding corn
Extracting sugar from cane

(No new birds seen in Darien Jungle) CUMULATIVE TOTAL (BIRD SPECIES SEEN  TO DATE: 97 (62 New) 

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