A week in Panama, and I can't shake it. It's a beautiful country, a place for poets.
One day last week, I wandered through a small village in the rural interior. The people were friendly, the homes poor. I stopped and tried to talk to some of them, but my Spanish and their English were equally bad. I asked the name of the village, and they told me. From what I could understand of the legend, this is how it came to pass: Many years ago, a little blind girl named Maria went swimming in the river nearby. She submerged and, miraculously, her sight was restored. The peons changed the name of their village to "Mariabe" ... "Maria sees."
There is something magical about giving a name to what cannot be explained.
Asleep on a bus in Las Tablas
Imagine a life where the landscape itself represents a kind of struggle between what is primitive or self-sufficient, where everything else is both desired and kept at arm´s length, where what excites your soul is something more than money or power or possessions, where eroticism and sensuality are in the air. It is a place for poets and lovers, not so much for ambitious men. I can´t seem to turn in any direction without seeing something that gives me pause, often just to imagine what a common life might be like in this place. I tease mi padre: Build me a house on the beach and I will come forever. It scares me when he says, ¨Si.¨ But you already know what about me, that it might be unseemly -- inappropriado -- to expect a life of constant adventure. Of sideways dreaming.
Ah, demasiado profundo. Too profound. I should stick to simpler thinking. As mi padre says, I think too much.
A week of flirting with howler monkeys, black-sand beaches, cold beer in tiny outdoor jardins, an exciting but minor confrontation with a boa constrictor, rum drinks while sitting in cool jungle streams, sand crabs by the millions on a living strand, hiking through coastal mountains and deep woodlands, sleeping in south-to-north tradewinds, bananas for monkeys on mountain bridges, meeting beautiful and fragrant mujeres on the beach (and being shown the Southern Cross in the night sky), wandering through small villages and listening to their legends while we eat fried plantains and drink local rum ... who wouldn't want to go back?