"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change."
-Brene Brown, shame-researcher turned love and connections expert, author, and motivational speaker
More specifically: We are nestled on the Northern shore, outside the tiny town of Piña, which is a forty minute ATV ride from Colón through dense, valleyed jungle, over locked waterways and around bloated, cattle-speckled swamps.
But they ARE undeniably sweet, I promise. Their size is just for scare.
Since first arriving, daily storms have waged war against the sea's surface and stirred the waters into frothing, tossing waves.
The lightening last night was SPECTACULAR. We watched from our beds, witnessing powerful, fiery tridents spearing an angry ocean's surface every few heartbeats and shaking the surrounding forest with the following forceful booms as the house was doused with torrents of rain.
Weather didn’t stop us, though, and I had my first ever ocean swim... The water was warm and filthy, filled with human rubbish and natural debris from the ferocious winds and stormy weather and black-and-brown-sanded beach was well churned (we only saw blue sky our last day in the country). We couldn't see more than three inches through the water, but chose to be trusting and dismiss Spielberg's stories in lieu of the Atlantic waters' siren call.
I loved it...
Daniel had the usual traveler’s cold, and I was conscious to keep my head above the surface and my face clear of icky fluids, preventing the exacerbation of an apparent eye infection that has left me with sore sockets, bloodshot eyes, and the feeling of ever-present hairs stuck directly across my corneas.
It has ached in ways that worry me a bit (sometimes my anxieties threaten to convince that my laser eye surgery has at long last betrayed me as I feared, and turned for the worse...).
I'm just trying to prevent further infection, if I can. It's already feeling better.
Considering my immune system’s past track record, I expect a full recovery in the next few days.
With his previous travels, Daniel is all too familiar with mosquitoes, and all that they could carry, in terms of undesirable injections. He considers them the winged terrorists of the animal kingdom (anyone agree?). I, of course, am being far too cavalier about it, and am very fortunate he is here to bedeck our beds with not one, not two, but THREE full-sized, interwoven bug nets, to keep out the vampiric insects that would add us to the 800,000 malaria fatalities (the US spent over $20 million to kill off Panamanian mosquitoes while building the canal, we are just making sure that effort was worth it!).
Geckos frequent the white-washed walls and Santorini-blue window panes of the jungle cabin, and every time I see one, I thank him and do my darnedest expose all the secret locations of the many-legged fiends that run rampant in the ever-humid house.
Families (at least in this part of the country) live in cement-block cubes with corrugated metal roofs. The box-like shacks are congregated intermittently along the edge of the jungle road, almost entirely open to the elements (windows are generally absent, and oftentimes even doors are nowhere to be seen).
That said, with the vibrant paint they generally chose to coat the concrete, and the brightly-colored clothes they hang from fences and trees to dry after cleaning, homes look quite beautiful, snuggled between the trees and bushes like rainbow butterflies on a green lawn.
There's a simultaneous sense of community and every-man-for-himself-ness that seems to influence the brand of social cohesiveness I found here. People are willing to help others, but based on what I experienced I’m guessing some of those ties may be more tenuous than tight.
That said, it also seems to be understood that we all work together to get things done. I could sense a kind of allowance for the role each person played (or pressured others into tolerating) as we navigated our week.
It may just be where I went, but prices are generally the same as Seattle, in this tiny, North-coast town of Colón (which boasts the world’s largest duty-free shopping zone).
Some prices actually seem about the same as a decent sale back home, while others dare to be shamefully expensive (in my frugal-minded opinion). Oh, well. We stocked up a week's worth of meager eatings for about $40 (14 meals for two... About $1.43 per chap per meal. Not bad).
I'm hoping to grow and move past those tendencies. I'm so grateful to be here, to have this opportunity, and I'd love to experience it with a more graceful and loving attitude. It's as much work as I thought, but I see how worthwhile the sweat can be, in the long run.
Daniel, the veteran traveler, is doing his best to handle my unruly and stubborn tantrums, and has been FAR too kind in forgiving my errs and rarely acknowledges my blatant faults... Bless his heart.
We will keep exploring the world. Trying to make it better!
PS, Just heard a little gecko croak!!!! Let us hope it was in celebration of just finishing off the last pesky pest in Panamá!
There is more to see than a post has room for!
Click the links and take a gander at our internal gallery or Instagram account!
LOVE it? Visit Daniel's store here!
Follow us! Like us! Come with us!