It’s another tranquil morning up on the mountain in Potrerillos Arriba, Panama, like the countless billions of mornings that preceded it and the billions to come. Sitting out on the front steps with my morning cup of coffee the sky slowly lightens to my left as the sun starts to climb up the mountain range over there and you can make out the towering cloud formations. The sound of the rushing water in stream hidden behind the trees on the east side of the property plays counterpoint to the crowing of roosters in the neighborhood. A dog barks in the distance. The lights of David in the distance below are no longer visible as the day progresses and the Pacific coast comes into view.
It’s calm and comfortably cool here. Being linguistically challenged at the language of my newly adopted country means I don’t watch the local news on television or read the local press so I was completely unaware that there has been tumultuous rioting going on in two widely separated parts of the country.
A recently passed law has upset environmentalists and union members to the point that they have taken to the streets in the Capital in the east and Changuinola, in the western province of Bocas del Toro. Changuinola was once the hub of the nearly collapsed banana trade in Panama.
In Panama City protesters marched in the streets to deliver a letter to the President decrying the new law and were met by police in riot gear. I enjoyed watching the truncated live broadcast of the Tour de France on ESPN.
Things were much more violent in Changuinola.
There hundreds of people have been injured in clashes with the police and one death has been reported. As a result a curfew has been declared throughout the province and people have been ordered to stay in their homes. What this means to the tourists visiting Bocas del Toro town on Isla Colon is unknown.
But as far as I know it’s business as usual in the City of David and life up here on the mountain goes on as it always has. Though a resident of Panama I am, never the less, a guest in the country and am specifically forbidden to become involved in its political life. Sure, everyone can have their opinions on a subject but acting upon them as an outsider here is forbidden. Quite frankly in this instance I prefer the tranquility of ignorance. Besides, it’s my birthday today. Me and Tom Hanks. Oh, yes, O. J. Simpson, too, but I doubt he’s going to enjoy it a whole lot.
I’m going to have a second cup of coffee.