Let’s build a house with mud!

Locales y extranjeros se divierten preparando la arcilla para la casa

This post is also available in: Spanish

What better way to start 2016 than by experiencing Panamanian traditions first-hand.

With this in mind, Cubitá Tours has arranged a guided visit to the town of Macaracas in the province of Los Santos where visitors can participate in a “Junta de Embarre” (the construction of a house made of mud and straw) on Saturday, January 2.

Locals and foreigners have fun preparing the mud for the house

Locals and foreigners have fun preparing the mud for the house.

“Junta de Embarre” is a country custom that encourages cooperation and solidarity, with families, friends and neighbors getting together to build a traditional “Casa de Quincha” (mud house), while greeting each other with yodels( called salomas in Spanish).

The day before “la junta” the workers start building the skeleton of the house with thin sticks of arbutus and red vine. After this phase is concluded the next step is to chop straw. Once this is done, water is added and the straw is spread over muddy and clayey ground to be mixed. At this point, the men form a human chain, interlocking forearms and stamping the mixture, adding water until the clay and mud are compacted. Next mud balls are formed then spread over the frame much like using plasticine and little by little the walls of the “quincha” house are made.

In the past only men used to work on the mud house construction, while the women just brought water, “chicha fuerte” (strong alcoholic drink made of fermented corn) and food to the workers. However, nowadays you see men, women, children, locals and visitors working together to build the house.

Every year the Macaracas community organizes a “Junta de Embarre”, as part of the Canajagua Folkloric Encounter, a party that takes place in the middle of the Three Wise Men Festivities. This activity gives visitors the opportunity to experience one of the Azuero Peninsula’s most interesting customs.

The cost of the tour per person is $60 and includes transport to and from Chitre, participation in the “Junta de Embarre”, a tourist guide, and Panamanian food cooked over an open fire. For more information call Tel. 978-0200 or write to Info@cubitatours.com


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