• Steph Unger

Embera Quera - Human Beings, Fragrance of Nature

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

So I thought yesterday was pretty special and hard to top... then today came around and took my breath away.

Today we all headed off to the Embera Quera Village, the indigenous Panamanian village that was (in more ways than one) totally out of this world amazing. For starters, the only way to get to the village is via canoe, so off we all went in two large hand-made canoes down the river taking in every inch of the awesome (in the truest sense of that word) jungle that surrounded us. Perhaps 30 minutes into our journey we turned a corner and there ahead of us was the spectacular Embera Village.

As soon as we arrived, members of the community gathered to greet us with welcoming smiles and music and we quickly made our way into the main hut being sure to step over the sun-baking baby monkey as we entered. Yes, you read that right... there was a baby monkey stretched out on the stones having a little sun-bake at the entrance of the hut, but more about the monkey later.

I won't go through every detail of our visit, instead I'll focus on the impact this humble yet extraordinary people had on 33 educators from little old sunny Queensland Australia. Now, St. Francis (one of our pilgrim saints) said "speak the Gospel always and when necessary use words" reminding us to "live" and "be" our faith, not just preach it. In the same way, the name of the village says more about our encounter with the Embera people than I ever could. Embera Quera means human beings and the fragrance of nature. The warmth of the community, in the way they embraced us, shared their way of life with us, even the way the children played with us, left an Embera shaped mark on each of our hearts. Many pilgrims shared that seeing the simplicity of the Embera way of life made them consider how they could un-complicate their own way of living. Others spoke of the peace, joy and spirituality that they encountered throughout the day. Each of us connected with the community in different ways, yet all of us stepped back on to the canoes changed.

I would be remiss though to not mention the baby monkey and the Toucan. I kid you not, but we were so close to a Toucan today that a few of the pilgrims were able to feed it some fruit. I can't even! It was so unexpected and incredibly delightful all at the same time. Then there was the baby monkey. When we first arrived in the hut to hear all about the community a baby monkey decided to make friends with two of us. Not only did it come up to say hi, but decided to get snuggled in for the duration of the presentation. Sometimes she couldn't decide who she wanted to snuggle with so she sat on one of our laps and wrapped her tail around the others arm. To say it was incredibly gorgeous is definitely an understatement!

Oh wow, today was just one of those days. The old #blessed comes to mind but it certainly doesn't begin to describe this feeling right now. Thank you, pilgrim companions for supporting us so that we could be here today and believe me when I say we carried you with us. Good night once again and please pray for another #blessed day tomorrow.

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