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People from more complicated places will pay for the attractions of the simple life
A delegation of bright Canadian students visits Embera country with diplomats and former Members of ParliamentLearning Third World ways of doing business
photos and story by Eric Jackson
Terry Clifford is a former Conservative Member of Parliament from London, Ontario who created Global Vision, an organization for talented Canadian students with leadership skills to learn and promote international trade. The Group has various programs, one of which is to send "Junior Team Canada" --- groups of particularly apt students --- on missions abroad. Recently a delegation of 16 Global Vision students visited Panama and Costa Rica, getting to know the lay of the land, being exposed to social and business conditions with which they were unfamiliar, and being set up in summer internships.
Part of their visit here featured a trip up the Chagres River above Madden Lake to Parara Puru, an Embera village that makes its living off of tourism and artwork, plus a bit of gardening and fishing. It's a way of living under the constraints of the village's location within Soberania National Park, and a way of life that these students hadn't previously encountered. Along for the excursion with Clifford and the student delegation were another former Member of Parliament, writer Phil Edmonston (who was of the New Democratic Party from Montreal but who lives here in Panama now), Canadian Ambassador Patricia Langan-Torrell, British Ambassador Richard Austen MBE and a couple of journalists, Panama Star editor David Young and this reporter.
On a bus ride that included informal running commentary and discussions of phenomena ranging from urban policy to invasive weeds, the students got glimpses of a capital city and national park system run to Third World standards, then headed by boat upriver for an encounter with a culture whose language has numbers that only go up through five. It was a day of fun and relaxation, but also quite the eye opener.
Ambassador Patricia Langan-Torrell and editor David Young
A first encounter with the stocks, one of the features of Embera justice.
He showed absolutely no remorse. Offenders like this one rarely do.
Pulsating jungle rhythms, which some reverends would denounce as lewd...
...incite dancing when impressionable young minds are exposed to them
If you are going to pole a tourist piragua to and from
Embera country, you have to wear the right uniform...
On the way to Parara Puru, a detour to the swimming hole
Why take a walk through the jungle if you don't take
some time to appreciate the flowers along the way?
Her Majesty's Ambassador, dressed befitting
the country that legendarily rules the waves
International commerce. Some of these things will
fetch very good prices in places like Toronto
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2009 by Eric Jackson