A Native Tune

After soaking up three days of Panamanian city life, culture, food and vibe, it was a great experience to drive an hour out of the city (on a very rough road) to enter the Chagres National Park. This preserved area is crucial for Panamanian economy because it supplies 80 per cent of water needed for the Panama Canal to function.

Not to mention, it attracts hoards of tourists. Like us.

Mom, Dad and I piled into a motorized canoe with two other families and started gliding down the Chagres River. A small ride lead us to Lake Alajuela. Settled on a dam at this lake is the indigenous community of the Embera people.

Fellow travel junkies and The Amazing Race fans might recall this village tribe from season 19’s semi final. If you were too busy rooting for the snowboarders (like myself) and missed out on some information, here is a little bit of a background: The Embera people are originally from the Darien province neighbouring the northern border or Columbia. Due to guerrilla wars and drug trafficking, that area started becoming dangerous for the Embera families so they relocated to the Chagres River in 1975.

Not only did this new location give the Emberas a more secure home, but also gave them more accessibility to medical facilities located just an hour away in Panama City.

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Panama Highlights

I travelled to Panama with my parents for Christmas Feliz Navidad and embarked on a whirlwind of sight-seeing, learning about history and economy, Spanish-English-Punjabi translations and constant photo taking. Check out the highlights from this trip in the video below.

11 countries in 2011

At some point during the year, probably when I realized that the travel gods were on my side, I decided that I was going to attempt to visit 11 countries in 2011.

And lo and behold, I did.

I started my travels this year with a much needed getaway to culturally rich and geographically diverse Nicaragua. That was followed by the legendary banana pancake trail and a Europe camping trip. It was very poetic that the 11th country I visited was in Latin America as well, the beautiful Panama.

If I were to talk about all of those individual trips, this would be an excruciatingly long blog post that no one will read (because, let’s admit it, we don’t like long blog posts). Instead, here is a little photo montage of my most amazing year for travel ever.

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