This blog seems to have fallen into a dead space not for my lack of things to say – actually, sometimes I have so many things to say that I will talk to myself seemingly ad infinitum; nor is it because this experience has failed to mesmerize and frustrate me – it is still fulfilling both those duties on a daily basis; instead the culprit would be my own self for not setting aside the time to write down some of what all has been occurring here. On the one hand, I (perhaps ironically?) sympathize with Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) in Up in the Air, “photos are for people who can’t remember”, but I realize that I will inevitably grow old, my memory will become increasingly malleable, and someday die at which point any experiences I have not recorded cannot be trusted to have been preserved. Are my memories intrinsically worth preserving? Could not answer that.
We were on a boat that seemed to stand between to straits of land. Looking at a map, one would see that we were smack dab between a peninsula and a busy port that would lead me back to the main-road. There I sat, this one dude in a group of mostly indigenous folks sitting, dressed as you or I would be on their way to the mainland for a week of work or to see family. At $9, this boat ride equaled out to about $1 for every ten minutes, which when comparing local taxi rates, seemed fair, but when one compared the distance to what a bus or chiva would cover, seemed an audacious amount to pay…And then I stopped thinking and simply looked out at the mountains beyond the sea. There I was, this one dude on an early morning boat trying to make the first leg of a long trip and I could not help but cease up and appreciate the beauty of all of which was around me. It was a true, holy shit, this is where I am moment.
This other time I was hanging out a bit north of where I live in a poorer community. I won't tell you that it's quaint or calm or that it's the kind of place where people are super polite and old fashioned because a cop was shot there in the past year, I was falsely accused of having been drunk at a community event, and its not as if the community would not prefer to have the gifts of modernization and globalization. To pretend otherwise, would be a misguided attempt at imposed nostalgia. We walked up to a view where you could see most everything around; to peer at the verdant landscape of Northern Panama where mountainous terrain appears obscured by trees and it was unlike anything my eyes had ever been privty to. It was another, holy shit, this is where I am, moment.
I was at another famed reinado in which several of my beloved kinder students were competing. Preparations had been in order for months prior to the event, family members from the capital had come and pitched in, a gigantic truck used in construction in downtown Santiago was being utilized as a float, professional hair stylists were hired -- in the excellent words of Vice Present Joe Biden, "this (was) a big fucking deal." Alas, halfway into the presentation, tragedy struck! The power went out and darkness went everywhere. What happened next is one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed. Musicians, who had been hired independently by the different contenders, began to play a few notes here or there. One group of guys would play a little riff, and then the next would respond in kind until without any words or glances being exchanged the multiple murgas assimilated into one cohesive murga, but they were not the final result. Instead they merely propogated the notion that faulty light system be damned, the show must go on. Soon the tamboritos were unveiled and one of the reinas, a darling child named Milanys with a smile that could melt anyone's heart, came up, guided by her family and knew exactly what to do. For about an hour this little girl dance and was accompanied by family and friends as the community held the show afloat.