|Panama or Tahiti?|
As an anthropologist, "traditional" and "custom" are my least favorite words. This is because I believe people are constantly changing, especially at this point in time, when the world is a peanut and it is easy to blend traditions and customs, such as, say, the Embera Drua of Panama with Tahiti. Therefore, I think tradition and custom are evolving concepts and if I lifted the skirt of an Embera lady, I would probably see the following text printed on the fabric: "Made in Tahiti". Actually, I don't know whether or not Tahitians still wear the skirts that Gauguin made so famous. I doubt that Tahiti exports anything other than gorgeous vacation memories, so it would probably say "Made in Bangladesh, Pakistan, or India" but you get the idea.
|Embera house and hanging kilts, which are purchased in Panama city but my guess is that they're probably imported from Asia.|
|Ia Orana Maria Aka Hail Mary, Paul Gaugin, 1891|
Here's another popping of the romantic bubble, however. To my heartbreak, I saw a pile of Coca Cola crates, a young girl drinking a florescent pink fizzy drink, and a mother feeding a fuscia-colored creamy sugary wafer to a seven-month-old baby. I wanted to shout "NO! DON'T DO IT! Keep your white teeth!" But I guess it's inevitable that now that they can afford to go to town and purchase beef, cooking oil, and rice, they can also buy junk food along the way. Oh well, there go the white teeth.
|Embera Drua woman preparing the fire for our lunch.|
|Delicious fried fish and plantain for lunch.|
**Check out my photographer friend Alejandra's gorgeous photos of the community.
***I highly recommend visiting the Embera Drua. They have a community cooperative that organizes day trips that includes a canoe ride along the river Chagres, a dip in a beautiful waterfall, and a chance to meet the lovely people of the community, have lunch, and shop for stunning Embera crafts.
|My son with an Embera Drua tucan mask.|
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