Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moving on


pic credit - Mine - just your friendly neighborhood rain clouds


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I had to cut short a phone call today because I couldn't hear over the roar of the wind.

The wind that sounds outside the huge windows of our twenty fifth floor apartment is loud and unobstructed. The Panama Bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond are just in front of us; sky scrapers rim the constantly shifting shoreline of Panama City. From the distance, approaching rain seems like grey mist, or like the dust from conquering armies. Dispersed moisture cloaks the scattered islands and most of the mainland. You wonder, momentarily, if you're losing sight or if the world truly is disappearing within the wind whipped rain's embrace. The waters of the bay begin to change color, turning a darker hue. You always know how  the rain is approaching, because the waters directly under the onslaught seem to turn inside out.
pic credit- Mine, not a cloud in sight


I will miss this. We're leaving Panama, and while I knew that Him could change trajectory in mid-flight, I had hoped that this time, the flight would be longer. I will miss the rain, the sweep of ocean outside my frighteningly wide windows, the moisture in the air that clings to skin making it lush, the forests abundant and very alive. No place is perfect, and of course, fool hardiness can get one into a lot of trouble anywhere. But my stay in Panama has been a gift. It was a gift of time - to recuperate, heal and allow sanity back into my life. While the waves rolled in from far away, never still, ripples that kept pace with the unending activity in the city, my mind slowed down. Slowed down enough for thoughts to settle like the proverbial 'happiness butterfly'.

I just can't take drama, you know? And now, I'm happy accepting it and won't take anyone else's imposition of it on my life lying down. Just like the little tugboats that race away toward the outer reaches of the Panama Bay early in the morning, for fishing, but race back, even just two or three hours later, trying to beat laden clouds to the shore. They anchor themselves to buoys or the pier and just wait, electric blue tarp protecting the people inside the boats. When the rain abates, off they go again, drawing in fish by the netfuls. I'm the tugboat. I will focus on the fish, being on the ocean and not on beating the storm, which, by the way, I have nothing to do with.

There is nothing to this life without the color green. In plants, that is. A canopy of trees with rippling branches offer a reassuring home. The scent in the forests here reminds me of all those words perfumeries use to describe notes...woodsy, musky, with faint notes of orange blossoms, vetiver, wet earth, caterpillar surprises and impending sunshine...umm...the last three are my personal favorites. It is an embrace unlike any other...being in these forests. Every sense is coddled. In that kaleidoscope of green, where imagination can take you to some scary places, just breathing in the scents and allowing moisture to seep in leaves one with a deep sense of peace.
pic credit - Mine, on our trip to Playa Blanca

The beaches have no warnings posted on the nearly black volcanic soil in the Pacific, or the dazzling white to beige sands of the Atlantic shores. You're really on your own if you decide to take on the mighty ocean when it's got a rip-tide party going. And of course, if you don't check tide levels before getting there, it's your own fault. But no one would actually blame you. Because, everything is just so heart-stopping gorgeous, that you'd be a fool to let a little thing like danger, and possible death interfere with your communion with nature. And of course, it is not cold. Never cold. Either humid or balmy (which they term winter here).

People who vacation in seemingly exotic places, with excellent promotion strategies might miss Panama. From the very modern Panama City to ancient Panama Viejo, the many Kuna governed islands in the Atlantic, to the coffee plantations and rapids in Chiriqui, near Costa Rica, the discoveries and adventures are constant.

There are issues...punctuality is one of them :-) But there's so much to admire...your friends probably stopped on their way from home to watch the impromptu fireworks display, get a mini bite to eat before showing up for dinner! LOL! And there's every chance you could get suckered into paying more for something. Or that flashy gold/designer jewelry you're wearing could get snatched by scamps on motorbikes. Or that you look a little too high maintenance in the wrong parts of town in the wrong times of day. Or you think that all that heated blood when you chance a glance at a good lookin' romeo is a good thing, leading to a steamy romance, that is likely dangerous. But then again, if there is a sense of discrimination in our natures, and the ability to make judgments, these are the reasons I believe we have them. Not to exasperate the heck out of each other, but to keep ourselves safe.

I feel sorry for Mini-Baby who will likely zip line in a different country, unlike Mini-Him who Tarzan-yelled over forests in Boquete. Mini-Baby will miss never catching a cold because, well, it's never cold. Mini-Baby won't know, anytime soon, what it is to want a pineapple and get it off a tree. Or have coconut water, instead of stuff from the tap, because, hey, it's there, and it's about 10c. Yes. Or Mini Baby will necessarily wait for a tropical location to eat passion fruit bought from the local markets with three pounds of tomatoes for $3 and tin roofs. And Mini-Baby will likely wait to eat fresh papaya, also from the local markets, grown in local farms.

And we'll never be here again, where people from, literally, every corner of the world, still find a home and are comfortable. And where billions and millions of dollars can buy you untold luxury, and a dollar goes pretty far, and ten dollars a day isn't that bad. Of course, it could all change; and everyone could start doing the treadmill run here too, where a million dollars are just that, and guarantee nothing. But my experience has been different.

The rain made way for bluer skies and calmer seas here today. Chances of an apocalyptic downpour lasting all of three minutes, every few hours will be greatly diminished from now on. For another three months. Before it all starts again. And this is how I'll be saying good bye in a few weeks, to a warm, generous and slightly off kilter place, that has room and open arms for everybody.

I'll go bawl some of that abundant moisture away now. Might ease the heaviness in my heart.