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Volume 15, Number 4
March 1, 2009


Also in this section:
William J. Jorden, US ambassador to Panama during the treaty negotiations
A trip to Embera country with students, diplomats and former politicians
Drive it till the wheels fall off
Antillean Fare
Why use imitation vanilla when you can grow the real thing here?
US ambassador pays a visit to the Danilo Pérez Foundation
Carnival scenes: the Antillean Fair
Carnival scenes: Panama City away from the main spotlights
Carnival scenes: a traditional small-town celebration in San Carlos
Kite Festival
Diablos & Congos Festival
Tuesday Talks
Canada outsources its auto consumer guide writing to Panama (sort of)
First they messed with the buses, now the taxis
Bernal's ragtag army

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 Parliament
Learning 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


The Panama Report: What's best and where to go in Panama ---
Make the Executive Hotel your headquarters in Panama City ---
Find the boat of your dreams through Evermarine ---

© 2009 by Eric Jackson
All Rights Reserved - Todos Derechos Reservados
Individual contributors retain the rights to their articles or photos

Cell phone: (507) 6-632-6343

Mailing address:
Eric Jackson
att'n The Panama News
Apartado 0831-00927 Estafeta Paitilla
Panamá, República de Panamá