Monday, October 30, 2006

Home from Panama

A new friend from Panama (that's me on the left)

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.


Postmistress in Pedasi

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?


Love, Rita said...

Welcome back, Ron. I have been in some poor, rural areas of small Caribbean nations. I marvel at the ability of humans to live in such abject poverty. I am almost ashamed to be the overweight American that I am. Although I live at or below "federal" povery guidelines, I have so much more than these simple folks.

Their lives seem to be absent all the stresses that occupy every waking moment of my life.

Amd perhaps the most amazing thing of all, is that--even with so much less--they have so much more contentment.

Chancelucky said...

Welcome Back Ron.

Boa constrictor?

Jspiker said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I'm looking forward to reading more about Panama.

SingingSkies said...

Sounds wonderful, Ron! Are you planning to simply tantalize us with that drop in about the boa constrictor, or are you going to tell us what happened?

Interesting that I was reading along, imagining a beautiful, mystical place, floating along with your picture ... and then comes that boa constrictor. I'd love to know more about mi padre too.

Tell us more! Or are we going to have to wait for the book?

Ron Franscell said...

Ah, the boa constrictor.

Well, the story is not as exciting as an Alan Quartermain adventure, but perhaps -- in time -- it will be!

One night, we sat under the stars in mi padre's pool (although I cannot explain why one might have a pool less than 10 meters from the Pacific Ocean, nor why we'd be in it on a warm night.)

Suddenly, we heard a hoot and Ledys -- mi padre's partner -- came running to the pool, very agitated. "Culebra! Culebra!" she hollered.

We leapt from the pool and followed her back to the breezeway outside my apartment, where a young boa constrictor lay in wait for dinner, probably one of the large frogs that frequented the patio. He was only about 4 feet long, a little more than a meter.

We could have -- and probably should have -- simply picked him up and released him into the nearby woodlands. Boas are not venomous, nor as frightening to man as Hollywood suggests. All told, he was likely doing more good than harm, eating small rodents and other vermin. But the snake so upset Ledys that her nerves would not likely be soothed by merely moving him away from the house. So we beheaded him with a machete.

Since then, I have wished we would have sent Ledys away, removed the snake to a safe spot, and told her we killed him. A good idea too late.

SingingSkies said...

Thanks for sharing the story, Ron. From this distance, I can agree with you about the second alternative for the boa. It probably was doing more good than harm. However, I would have been right up there with Ledys had I come into its presence. Slither critters are best as far away as possible, from my perspective.

Rpn Petitt said...


You must be doing something right. A new book coming out and you get to go to Panama. Your writing is so visual that it made me wish I were there having Rum with you.

Your comment about "constant adventure" really struck a cord with me. I hadn't though about that phrase, but it clearly describes what I want out of life.

An ongoing adventure of exploring, learning and truly experiencing what life has to offer.

I hope you don't mind, but I plan to adopt the phrase not only as my life's goal, but maybe as part of my epitaph.

You have a true gift my friend!

I wish us both a long constant adventure.

Ron Petitt

Ron Franscell said...

And sideways dreaming.

Anonymous said...

I think the guy on the right thinks you are a bit crazy.