Most of us live in a “wired” world with our cell phones, computers, Kindles, iPads and the like. Lots, if not most, expats here in Panama have access to a computer so they can stay in touch with family and friends back “home.” Panamanians are hugely into the wired world. Every day I ride the bus there are several sitting through the ride texting away like crazy on their “smart” phones. Or they’re showing each other next the photos they’ve taken with their phones.
Facebook, of course, is huge all over the world for those who can log on to a computer, down here in Panama, too. And for those who can’t afford their own computers there are cyber-cafes all over in Panama City and the wonderful Info Plazas that I’ve written about before. Every time I go to the Plaza in Boquerón there are kids working away on their Facebook pages. One of the young girls who translated my book into Spanish has a Facebook page. She has 533 “friends” and, get this, 1,517 photos.
But we forget there’s a whole other world out there that isn’t plugged into the matrix. There are a lot of people here in Panama who don’t “log on” to a computer and there are a lot of people who don’t have even a single photo of themselves or their loved ones.
There’s a young gringo living in David by the name of Ryan Grassley who goes by the moniker Halfthrottle.
Ryan rides his motorcycle around Panama with his cameras (video and still) making some wonderful short films. Recently he went into the Ngabe-Bugle “Comarca” with his cameras and a battery-powered photo-printer. The following Halfthrottle film shows that while a picture is worth a thousand words a little thing like a photo given away can mean a lot to people who have probably never seen a picture of themselves in their life.