San Cristobal community, Bocas del Toro
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The Ngobe-Bugle of Bocas del Toro
Panama's Bocas del Toro archipelago is renowned by travellers for its beaches, bars, and boat tours. But it's worth scratching beneath the surface of this Caribbean party zone and spending time with the indigenous people whose way of life is considerably more peaceful and sustainable. The Ngobe-Bugle inhabit several islands including San Cristobal, a half hour boat ride from Bocas town. Visitors are welcomed, and shown how to produce traditional crafts such as "chacara" bags made from leaf fibres. There are medicinal plant tours, a visit to the local school, and traditional food, including a kind of wild spinach, lobster or fish, plantain, cassava and rice. It's a humbling experience after the excesses of the town, and a beautiful insight into how life has been lived on these islands for many people for centuries.
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