Panama | Town Life

dscn1899It was something to see, the way the woman could get the horse to tiptoe like that. I had seen her before riding that horse bareback with just a halter. Heads held high on those two. I was walking towards three women who were standing in the middle of the road gabbing away, the horse and women sneaking closer to the back of one of the ladies. That cold wet nose her that warm bare back. She was a shirker that one. A scream of shock and surprise. Everyone on the street falling apart in laughter. That young woman sat proud and gay on that horse. Holding my gut in laughter, I made my way past and into the launderia. I was told the machine on the left was the working one. It took my five quarters, ran for a moment then stopped. The launderia was a concrete shelter of three walls open to the street. I pushed buttons, getting frustrated and ready to pull a Fonz on that baby when out of nowhere in breezes a women holding a kitchen knife. She sticks it between the buttons and gives it a good jiggle—the machine starts running again. She smiles and walks out. I lift the lid, it keeps running with it open but the water is just a trickle, “Man, I will be here all week at this rate.” At this point a man pops in and grabs this six-foot piece of two-inch PVC pipe that is laying under the sink. He sticks that into the open machine, takes the two hoses that are attached to the two faucets, sticks those in the end of the PVC pipe and turns on all the water. He laughs, pats me on the back and walks out. Now we are talking water. Man, I can relate to this kind of technology.

Other women arrive with overflowing laundry baskets. They place them on the floor to determine their place in line for the one working machine. A girl of two is put on top of one of the baskets. She looks some pleased for that cozy place to sit. The ladies are talking away and one would occasionally walk over and check the progress of my load. The fellow who had administered the PVC pipe is now out front in the middle of the road. He is wearing only spandex shorts and he is shadowboxing. The sweat rolls off his back throwing punches into the air. When he threw a hard right a lady on the porch across the street would snap her head like he had connected, humoring the old boy. My laundry finishes and when I am walking out of the launderia, one of the ladies is putting that PVC pipe back in the machine. Got to love it. Love Dave

Panama | Love

You could see just by the way they were standing on the side of the road that they had been through it all. Well past the struggle of the divide between man and woman and into the balance of supporting each other with unconditional love. Their shrinking bodies so tiny compared to all the others on that crowded bus. In the tradition of Latin America, Clara and I gave up our seats to the old couple and stood in the aisle holding the bars hanging from the roof. Standing behind them, I took in the sight of their sound love. Two heads leaning in wearing the traditional hats of the indigenous, finely woven with wonderful patterns and so durable to withstand the blistering sun.

dscn1897The bus rolled on down that dusty road. Music blasting the reedy sound of accordions and high-pitched male voices. The music competed with baby chicks chirping away from boxes in the laps of many of the women on board. The bus stopped along the way to drop off passengers and take on more. A mother of three little ones got on and made her way to the back, random people picking up the kids and putting them in their laps. An elderly woman grabbed with both hands the meaty flesh above the hips of the women standing before me and said in Spanish she was all women, then smacked her a few times on the bottom. She just smiled, bringing a giggle from the old gal.

dscn1901We rode past the dry countryside of open fields skirted with big and broad trees with dried out leaves, occasionally filled with cattle and men on horseback accompanied by their dogs to help herd the cattle. Such a harsh environment to raise anything in. Only getting rain during the rainy season.

I was happy for the breeze from the open windows as the sweat ran down my back. Across from me a grandfather sat with his granddaughter, trying to get her to drink some juice, holding it to her tiny lips with tender love. Those dark shiny eyes of hers never left him. Going past homes of bamboo and grass, others of concrete block and metal roofs. A voice called out for the bus to stop and the old couple made their way off the bus, holding each other dearly as they walked out onto the road.