Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes From Panama 4

Some of you will remember a British-produced television series entitled “All

Creatures Great and Small.” It was the ongoing saga of an English veterinarian and

the underlying theme encouraged respect and love for all of God’s creatures. In

order to live happily in Panama you have to embrace that theme.

Ants march in orderly fashion through your kitchen. Geckos cling to the ceiling of

your bedroom. Yesterday Gus was about to take a drink when he noticed that a

small golden frog was perched upon his glass. He kissed the frog, but the wealthy

princess with the raging libido never materialized.

The creatures with which we are currently sharing our space down here are strange

and exotic to the Canadian eye. The hedge behind our house was home to a baby

iguana. The chirping of crickets at night is the loudest we have ever heard.

Monarch butterflies, once so common in eastern Canada but now rarely seen there,

still flutter through the Panamanian air. Best of all are the fireflies. As a child at

my grandparents’ cottage in Rosemere, Quebec in the late 40’s early 50’s, we used

to marvel at these glowworms so abundant in numbers that we would try to capture

them in a jar in the hopes of creating a lantern. They are once more abundant here,

and the gentle flashes of light spark the night air. We have been trying to

remember when we last noticed fireflies in Canada, and then also trying to decide

if they had disappeared or whether we stopped noticing them with the passing of

the magic of childhood. Childish or not, the magic has returned in these southern


The holidays are over. This morning while Gus was playing golf, Mavis took the

tree down. The decorations have been stowed away and as promised, the artificial

tree has been converted to toilet brushes. The downside is that each time we clean

the toilet we have an overwhelming urge to sing carols.

Yesterday we travelled to El Valle, a small touristy community in the mountains

about a two-hour drive from Chitre. The town and its surroundings are

located in the crater of an extinct volcano, and in the midst of a rain forest.

Many areas of Panama experience about 180 inches of rainfall per annum. In

our area that falls to just over 40 inches. So we are kind of the Palm Springs


of  Panama. It was actually a relief to experience the cooler mountain air and

to enjoy the warm showers that punctuated our visit. 

Every day is market day in El Vallee and a wide variety of arts and crafts native to

this country were on display. So too was local produce; and we bought art

work and ceramics to soothe our souls and oranges to please our palates. The

views were wonderful – from the top of the climb you could see 25

kilometers westward to the shores of the Pacific. As we descended, we once

more returned to the warmer, drier climate of our home base.

Plans for later today include a return to that beach about which we write so

lovingly. It isn’t so much a swim as a frolic in the surf. Prior to coming here

Gus had long looked forward to bawdy surfing, and then he discovered the

correct spelling. Nevertheless each jaunt beach ward is a delight, and since

today is Monday, it shouldn’t be crowded. We are truly spoiled given our

privacy and lack of crowds, but we don’t feel at all guilty, only exceedingly

fortunate. Good fortune is what we wish to all in this New Year.


Mavis & Gus

Thanks Mavis & Gus

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