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What Did You Say?

When learning a new language, like I’ve been trying to do with Spanish since retiring here to Boquerón, I’ve long advocated that one should talk to themselves in the new language. I know it might seem silly, especially in light of the fact that one will be making mistakes that cannot be quickly corrected, but I feel it’s good practice, never the less.

When listening to the radio, watching television, or simply listening to passing conversations of native speakers as you go through the day, it’s important to try and simply absorb what’s being said. Don’t try and translate what you hear into your native tongue. Try to just “understand” what you hear as naturally as you would hearing your own language.

There are certain things that just naturally trip off my tongue, now. Things like “gracias,” “buenos dias,” “¿como esta?” “bien, gracias, y usted?” and “igualmente” when someone tells me to, “passe un buen dia.” There’s no thought processes involved. No translating from one language to another. These things JUST ARE!

I believe I’ve written, before, that I sometimes dream in Spanish now. But as when I dream in French, which happens rarely but every once in a while, still, it’s alway appropriate. That is, I speak Spanish to the people in my dreams who simply wouldn’t understand me if I spoke to them in English.

There are certain words and expressions I use from time to time in both Spanish and French. Things like “Bueno” when I’ve accomplished something like hanging clothes on the line or finish washing a load of dirty dishes.  I often use my favorite word in ANY language with an appropriately, “et voilá!”  But today something happened that was completely out of the ordinary. One of those defining moments in a person’s life.

It’s HOT this time of year in Panama. It’s what they call “Summer.” The “Dry Season,” when there are no afternoon showers to moderate the sweltering temperatures. As I sat on the bus in the terminal in David (DahVEED) I fanned myself with a hand fan I carry in my back pack for moments like this. Then, when I got off the air conditioned bus and into the dry, 90+ degree day back in Boquerón, I set my two heavy bags of groceries on the bench of the caseta (bus stop) and something happened that shook me to my core. The voice inside my head said, “La brisa siente buena.” “The breeze feels nice.” I didn’t think “The breeze feels nice” in English and translate it into Spanish. My mind simply said, “La brisa siente buena.”

As the Borg are fond of saying, “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

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New Year’s Eve Repast

I was watching this video (the kids are fantastic, by the way) when I thought I heard someone calling my name outside. I went to the door and there was my next door neighbor with a plate of New Year’s food for me. A Panamanian tradition. He didn’t knock on my door because the man only had one arm and he was holding this plate which left him no way of knocking on the door.

What the plate offers is rice with guandu (rice and pigeon peas), baked ham and, of course, home made tamale rich with one of the free-range chickens that roam around my yard daily, but I doubt I’ll recognize which one is missing from the flock.

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It’s not uncommon for my neighbors to share their food with me. Things are different down here in Panama and when I get invited to my neighbor’s birthday parties like last week, or receive a plate of food from a neighbor as I did just a little while ago, all I can say is that I LOVE IT HERE!!!

 

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 40,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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So, What Did You Get For Christmas?

Every year I splurge a little and treat myself to a Christmas present and also something for my birthday in July.  This year I had to buy a new, replacement computer in the middle of October when the old HP notebook shit the bed and wouldn’t start up any more, so I’m not sure if that qualifies as my Christmas present or not. Since I bought a MacBook Air for a touch more than I get each month in Social Security I didn’t have much spare change to go get something special for Christmas. So I’ll call the MacBook my Christmas present.

I went for the large 13″ screen, which is a tad smaller than the HP. This is what it looks like:

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I’m not going to go into an explanation in this post of why I bought this specific machine. I outlined that here if anyone is really bored and looking for something to read: http://onemoregoodadventure.com/2014/10/10/moved-to-the-dark-side/ If you want to know more about it look it up on your computer.

I will, though, make a few observations…One of the so-called “selling points” for the Macs is that they’re “easier to use” than a PC. Nobody ever explained how they’re easier, and so far, with over two months under the belt, I haven’t found any truth to that statement. There are several things I do like about this computer.

  • It’s light weight. A fraction of what the old HPs weighed, so when I went to the doctor’s appointment last week I didn’t hesitate to bring the MacBook along with me to while away the normally long wait, and I could get some work done editing my next book.
  • It uses “flash” drives instead of a mechanical disc drive for two advantages…reduced weight and without the drive there’s no fan whirring around and you can actually set the computer on your lap without getting second-degree burns.
  • The battery life is everything the Apple ads say it is. I’ve never had a notebook computer with any battery stamina at all. A couple of hours at the very, very best. I have run this unit for a bit more than 12 hours on battery alone!
  • Since it won’t burn you working with it on your lap, and with the extraordinary battery life, I spend most of my mornings out in the shade of the front porch working away with my rewrites. This allows me to occasionally chat with the people passing by on their way down to the river to wash when there’s no water pressure in the homes or simply to go swimming for a while.

Naturally there are some things I don’t quite like.

  • I’m not real fond of the touchpad, though I do use it  when working outside, but I use a regular mouse when I’m on the computer inside the house.
  • One thing that Windows does that I like better than the Mac is the cursor. In Windows you can change the color, change the size and program it so that as you move the cursor it leaves a trail which makes it easy to see where that little sucker is. You can also program it so that simply by pressing the Control key the cursor will flash on the screen letting you know where it’s located. Not so with the Mac. The damned thing gets lost all the time, and if there’s a way of correcting this it’s a HUGE secret.

I’ll be buying a bicycle in a couple of weeks, but that’s sort of to comply with doctor’s orders rather than for a recreational diversion. I’m supposed to walk at least a half hour a day for the cardio/pulmonary benefits, but my 72 year-old hips bother me when I walk. A lot! They don’t bother me when I’m sitting down, so the bike will be less stressful, low-impact exercise. I’ll write about it at the proper time.

 

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Christmas Eve In Boquerón, 2014

The Christmas celebrations here in Boquerón have changed each of the four Christmases I’ve lived in this small, Chiriquí, Panama, Province. Fireworks are a cornerstone of everything. The wet dreams of every adolescent male in the United States are available here. There are stores that sell pyrotechnics year-round and to satiate Panamanian’s desire for loud sounds be it music or explosions, tents spring up all over the place selling “Fuegos Artificiales.”

For two weeks leading up to Christmas Eve youngsters are constantly setting off fire crackers, M80s and cherry bombs and bottle rockets. But Christmas Eve is the culminating event. Four years ago the fireworks that were shot off here in my neighborhood rivaled those of any small town in the States. We were treated to a display, courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies catcher and pride of Panama, Carlos Ruiz whose mother lives on the other side of the Boquerón Road from my house, that would be the envy of many small towns in the States. It lasted a full twenty or twenty-five minutes. The next two years, though, saw a decline in the exuberance of the aerial displays. But those were private shows. No real municipal participation. This year was different. There was an election and Boquerón’s new mayor (Alcalde), I heard, appropriated B/25,000 and we had a town-sponsored parade and fireworks display last week.

This year’s neighborhood fireworks display was the poorest showing yet. Here are the videos I took last night.

This one has no video, but you can hear the sounds of fireworks going off all around the area. Up and down the hill and some firecrackers going off right here on my street…

Then there were two, short bursts of activity and that was it…

While we’ve probably become a little jaded on our block when it comes to these Christmas Eve displays you have to remember that these are paid for out-of-pocket by a local resident and not funded by the town.

 

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“It Is Far Better To Have Gone Alone…

Than not to have gone at all…”(Me)

http://vimeo.com/94842405

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There’s No Escaping Assholes…

It saddens me when I read about what’s going on in my country. The incredible polarization of the people is awful. It’s awful that a certain portion of the people have stigmatized the word “Liberal” and somehow turned it into a four-letter word.

You go online to certain forums and conservatives are crowing about their stunning “victory” in November’s election. They are completely incapable of reason. When only 33% of the total number of registered voters bother to go to the polls and your side barely ekes out HALF of THOSE votes, or roughly 16.75% of all registered voters, please explain to me how that becomes an overwhelming endorsement of conservative policies?

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Yes, my Facebook page is filled with anti-conservative and anti-theist posts, so in some respects I’m as intolerant as those I criticize. But I DON’T promote racist points of view, misogynistic points of view, nor do I support homophobia. There are a lot of people who can’t stand what I post there and I’ve had a brother, a cousin and a nephew “unfriend me” on Facebook, but I look at it like this…

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But no matter how far one separates themself from the heartland of the conservative twatwaffles they are always around. You just have to look at local web forums like Boquete.ning which is sort of a gringo bible down here to see a whole cadre of Climate Change Deniers, people who believe Obama is the anti-Christ incarnate.

And today, as I was eating lunch in David a white pickup passed with these two flag decals on the tailgate…

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It’s really rather depressing to know that ignorance and intolerance and downright bigotry is able to secure a passport.

 

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