Pajaro Jai Visits Washington

By Sarah Schmidt
Revised: 11/03/2006

PCPF member Jim Brunton (Darién, 1967-1969) brought his new, 92-foot sailing yacht, the Pajaro Jai, to Washington twice this summer.


Emiliano Caisamo Quiroz and Marcedonio Chami Barrigon performing in the Washington Channel.

He allowed PCPF to party on the boat both times. The crew included PCV Chris Meyer, who just ended his service in Panama, as well as six Emberá indians.

The first visit to Washington was a happy ending to a harrowing, nearly disastrous, maiden voyage for the boat. After a festive departure from Panama, where the boat had been built in the Darien, the boat encountered terrible weather on the fringe of Hurricane Alberto. The mechanism to raise the sails broke, leaving the crew unable to stabilize the boat in the rough seas. The boat’s motor is intended for maneuvering in harbors, not long distance travel. As the crew used the motor instead of the sails, they faced the risk of running out of fuel. That would have left them adrift with no power.

The final leg of the journey entailed traveling up the Potomac River at a time when floods were sending trees and other large debris downstream. All these setbacks resulted in the Pajaro Jai arriving too late for the several events that had been planned for its visit, but just in time for the Fourth of July.

As shown in the Fourth of July Photos, about a dozen PCPF members visited the boat on the afternoon of the Fourth, cruising the Potomac, dancing with the Emberá, and admiring the beauty and craftsmanship of the boat’s construction. They also admired the beauty and craftsmanship of the many baskets and tagua carvings that the Emberá brought with them. Many stayed to view Washington’s Fourth of July fireworks display from the boat. A few days later, the boat headed north to New York, Connecticut, and Maine.

The Pajaro Jai returned to Washington in September, docking near the Channel Inn hotel where PCPF held its reunion.

PCPF’s September 16 reunion included a harbor cruise and dancing with the Emberá. Later the same day, the Parjaro Jai hosted a party for the returned Colombia volunteers. That evening, at PCPF’s reunion dinner, PCPF presented Jim Brunton with a plaque honoring his decades of service to Panama.

See photos below.

Jim also offered Panama’s ambassador to the U.S, Federico Humbert, the opportunity to use the boat. On September 26, the Ambassador threw a cocktail party on the boat for his associates. He was kind enough to include the PCPF Directiva on the guest list. Midway through the party, the Ambassador made a short speech in which he praised the work of Brunton and his Pajaro Jai Foundation. His strongest praise, however, was for the six Emberá who left their homes, families, and crops to spend months in cramped quarters and unfamiliar surroundings, all in the hope of creating a more beneficial relationship between indigenous people and the outside world. The Ambassador’s remarks were evidence that the Brunton and the Emberá are indeed accomplishing their mission.

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