Thursday, October 31, 2013
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children are the mirror for the soul of a culture. Wherever I travel, observing children supplies me with more information about a place than any guidebook. The Embera are one of 7 indigenous cultures in Panama and they maintain traditional villages with raised, thatched-roof huts with no walls. Peeking out from one of the huts, I watched children play in the rain. No adult cautioned them or called them into a hut, as they squealed with the delight of feeling the raindrops splatter on their little bodies. The joy and unrestricted freedom to play and explore (We caught a few peering through a hole in the village outhouse as we took turns using rain forest facilities.) that these children expressed reveals a lot about Embera culture. They are clearly valued and encouraged to discover the world around them. Although the children only spoke their native dialect, they communicated their happiness to me very strongly.