Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Emberá Puru Roll Out the Red Carpet
I would compare my  recent visit to the Emberá Puru village in Panama to a National Geographic travelogue. Our guide for the trip, Anne Gordon de Barrigón, was far from being an ordinary chaperon.  She had intimate knowledge of this indigenous group of people and village. Anne is an American woman who married an Emberá man after completing a movie production involving the tribe. She treats each excursion with the same care as going home with a good friend.
Our tour began long before we arrived at the banks of the Chagres River where we would be ushered into long, shallow dug-out canoes and motored up the river to the village. We left the bustle of the City within 15 minutes of boarding the comfortable Coaster bus.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spiritual Tourism Finds True Spirit in Panama
Tourism is one of the best platforms for continuing education for the Baby Boomer traveler. Spiritual tourism, as an ever-growing sector of the travel industry, focuses on participants seeking personal growth and relaxation through enlightenment vs. sun, fun and adventure. Spiritual tourism can be broken down into two segments – religious and secular. Religious pilgrimages offer an introduction to areas and cultures leaning toward a greater understanding and connection to a higher power. Secular journeys focus on a relationship with the environment leaning toward a greater understanding and reconnection with nature.  Panama, as a well-spring of revelation for the spiritual tourist, offers both.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pimples,Warts and Downright Ugly Scars

Next month, my high school graduating class will be celebrating our 40-year reunion. Many of us entered kindergarten together. We started reconnecting on Facebook and are enjoying reminiscing about the good times we had. I have many good memories peppered with a few not so good ones. I remember getting my first pimple. Pimples always seemed to find their way to the middle of my forehead or the tip of my nose preceding the big school dance. I also remember the time a wart appeared on the top of my toe. I didn’t do anything about it for a year. In time I had it removed through a slow, slightly painful process. Pimples and warts are easily covered up or removed. But the one thing I will live with forever is the downright ugly scar that remains on my right knee. Preston Johnson, the meanest boy in my third grade class, pushed me down on the playground, inflicting a permanent scar.

I can hear you mumbling, “What does this have to do with Panama?” Stick with me on this one. The decision to retire and relocate to Panama creates many of what I call Clint Eastwood memories – the good, the bad and the ugly. With the right temperament and exposures you will experience more of the good and less of the bad and the ugly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Know You Are, But What Am I? Closing the Cultural Gap
Please note: Statements found in the first paragraph have been said to this author at some point during my travels, but do not reflect my feelings. They have been included to provide content for the article and are not intended to be offensive to any group of people.

I bristle every time Chinese store keepers throw my change down on the counter instead of placing the money in my outstretched hand. I recoil when Italian women raise their arms to expose hairy armpits. I grouse to find stores closed in the afternoon in Spain because everyone is at siesta. I would like to scream at Japanese businessmen for not telling me “no” when they mean “no.” I feel the European workforce must lack productivity because they get a month or more vacation from work. I fail to understand how French workers can consume a bottle of wine at lunch, return to work and function properly. I cringe every time American sporting fans let out a frenzied yell at the national anthem’s phrase, “o’er the la-and of the free...”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

“I’ve just retired to Panama – Now What?"

“What shall I do with myself?" is generally not the first question a new retiree to Panama asks. Once transformed from a working stiff to a crumpled lounging lizard, we, the newly emancipated, embark upon exploring sensational venues. Only after the first year do we begin to reflect on intriguing ways to reinvent ourselves. We regain that pep in our step and realize that 60-something is not too old to start all over. We’ve had enough of spending every waking hour with the spouse, no matter how much we love them. We’ve assessed our many visits to the mall and the market and acknowledge there is nothing more we need to buy. We have visited the main attractions several times so when we go again it will be to escort our out-of-town visitors. As for me, the last time I checked my career aspirations list, eradicating my home of mold and ants was not a life-long goal. No, it wasn’t a goal but it has become a life-long challenge, but that’s another blog. So besides murdering mold and ants, what’s next?