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The Darién Gap: Blow-darts, Guerrillas, and a Mother's Worst Nightmare

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The city of Yaviza (in the Dariên Gap)
Did you know that there is one long, long highway that goes from Alaska all the way down to Chile? It runs for 30,600 km, completely unbroken, except for...THE DARIÉN GAP. This 150 km gap is a wild section of rainforest without any roads. The main form of travel through the dense jungle is up rivers in canoes.

The Emberá and Wounaan Indians inhabit this area. They are famous for their woodcarving, basket-weaving, canoe-making, and blowguns used to shoot poison darts! The poison comes from the frogs and bullet ants that live in the rainforest. The Indians used these weapons to fight the Spanish in the 1500's.

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Abeja imagines trekking through the Darién
Travelers can hike into the Darien with the help of Indian guides. Imagine exploring small villages, using machetes to get through the jungle, seeing gorgeous tropical birds and animals. We would have to be careful to avoid the deadly snakes, and hope that rain would not bring high rivers and mudslides. Sound like fun? I wanted to do it, but I thought my mom might not be too happy!

The Darien has been hiked, biked, motorcycled and even, once, driven across. A team of six men and two women took almost five months to build wooden bridges, and push and pull a jeep and a Land Rover through in 1960! In recent years it has gotten more dangerous and I haven't met anyone here who has tried to cross it, or anyone willing to guide a trip through.

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Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Some people are talking about building a road, but it could cost $300 million! Even though I can't go to the Darién now - since I need to get to Peru to write you more stories - I promise to return to this wild place before anybody builds a road and the mystery is lost. Maybe by then you can come with me!


Team - HELP! We're Trapped in Panama!
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