Visit of the Ngäbe people

The Ngäbe people can be found in the Western Panamanian provinces primarily within the Ngäbe-Buglé comarca. They traditionally referred to themselves as the Guaymí; that simply means people in their own Ngäbere language.

We have visited the village and one of the local resident where we had an invitation for lunch.

We also visited the medical centre. Dr Ortiz escorted us around and have been telling us a lot of educational stories about the people of the valley. He has been helping them since the late 80s.

The Ngäbe people have their own medical centre. The government has setup a system where the Ngäbe people have a choice if they want to visit a doctor. On the left hand side you can get treatment by western medicine or you can chose your traditional medicine man (shaman as we know it) for healing your illnesses. He is the one on the second image having a discussion with Dr Ortiz.


Historically, Ngäbe subsistence relied on crop raising, small-scale livestock production, hunting, and fishing; however, external pressures on the Ngäbe’s land has led to a significant decrease in local wildlife, which has forced many Ngäbe to take part in a cash economy. As a direct result of this, the Ngäbe are considered to be the most impoverished of all indigenous Peoples in Panama. They temporarily migrate into southern Pacific Costa Rica’s coffee lands every September for the annual harvest. In addition to these migrants there is a permanent population of about 3000 Ngäbe people living outside San Vito, Costa Rica.

Up until now this image below was all I saw about coffee making.


And this day we saw the other side of that story.

We also visited the centre where they looking after the children of the coffee workers. Parents and all kids from 14 years of age and above are all working on the plantation. Girls and boys.

The little ones had a nice place to play. We took some photos of them and then show them the images on our cameras. This was our only channel for communication. But it was enough to make all of them smile 🙂


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