Once a feared warrior culture, this small tribe of the Emberá Parara Puru of Panama now shares their customs and culture as part of an ecotourism venture within the Chagres National Park of Panama, thus permitting them to keep their traditions and way of life. The men wear traditional loin cloths and the women go topless, though many of the younger women are beginning to wear jewelry or beaded bra-like garments in accordance with the western standards of modesty.
After ceremonial dancing, they offer temporary tattoos made from the jagua fruit (it wears off in about 10 days) and beautiful wood carvings for sale depicting jungle animals along with intricate baskets that geometrically capture the flora and fauna of the region. The ecotourism venture includes a typical lunch of fried fish wrapped and served in banana leaves, and an assortment of native tropical fruits. The income they receive from the sale of their carvings and baskets allows them to retain their heritage in a sustainable way.
Karin Leperi is an award-winning writer with bylines in print, broadcast and internet media. She writes about travel, entertainment, cuisine, culture and the environment, with an emphasis on people and place. An award-winning photographer as well, she sees photography as a powerful way to visually communicate with diverse markets and different people.