Bob’s Travel Pix


In 2008 I was in the Darien and met Vidacho and Michael, they and several other Embera locals promised to get me to the petroglyph stone in the jungle the next time I returned to the area. So the next year in 2009 as soon as I arrived in Sambu I got permission from the Embera elders or the Caciques (Chiefs) to enter the Embera Comarca upriver. The next day Vidacho, Moreno  and I shoved off for our trip to visit “La Piedra” or “The Stone”.  This is a large stone with ancient Embera carvings on it. It sits part way submerged on the edge of the river called “El Oro” in an extremely remote area of the jungle near the border of Colombia and Panama. This area once held much of the famous Darien gold ore, the locals still pan for gold here in the Darien. The carvings on the stone have been dated back as old as 3000 to 5000 years old. In 1994 the scientific researcher and explorer, Robert E Hyman was the first outsider the Embera people shared the secret stone with. Read about his fascinating journeys into the Darien to document other Pre Colombian petroglyphs here. Not many gringos have seen the stone since, it is a privilege and requires a lot of hard work to get to it. It is a magical thing to see it sitting there in the jungle as it has for thousands of years, relatively unseen.  The area is so beautiful and full of life. We saw fresh prints from a Tapir and right behind it was a very large Jaguar or “El Tigre” who was hunting the Tapir. Arqiuno, who led us to the stone, told me that the Jaguar could see us but we would not see it, only it’s tracks. Also Arqiuno spotted a Culebra in the middle of the path that we were walking. This was the Fer de Lance snake or “La Equis” they call it here. This is the most deadliest of the poisonous snakes in the Central/South America. It is very aggressive and very well camouflaged. I never would have seen it and would have stepped right on it. I had boots on but Arquino was barefoot! Vidacho took the walking stick he had made for me and with one fast hit he killed the snake. (please read the note below)

The people of Pavarando have constructed a open walled large hut for visitors to stay in and they were very hospitable. We ate very well while we were there and shared many laughs using three different languages.

We also revisited Churoco and spent a night in Villa Keresia with Robert and Mariela. My back was hurting from sleeping in the hammock so they made me a gringo style bed....ahhhh. It was good to see them all again. I love the Darien and it’s people.

Vidacho made it very clear to me that they only kill what they will eat but the Equis is so common there and so dangerous that they kill the snake when they see it. The Fer de Lance snake or “La Equis” grows to 8 feet in length and there may be more than 70 young in one brood. The baby snakes have fully formed fangs and can give a poisonous bite. While I was in the area there were 2 Equis bites. One of them was a 2 year old boy. For 2 days the family treated him with traditional medicine but when the boy’s fever and infection rose, the decision was made to take the boy to the medical clinic in Sambu and wait for the next plane to Panama City. Unfortunately the prognosis for the boy was not good by the time the plane left.


Trip to the Embera Petroglyph Stone