Castaway on a Hostile Shore


I’m still drifting through Central American memories, looking at my life 10 short years ago…

The present has rippled and the past intervened. It’s leaking through the walls of this cold northern room, and all those feelings are coming back with it.

Pushing Through My Safe Ideas

My recent visit to Panama City has left me drifting 10 years in the past…

I’d like to share with you a reading of something I wrote at that time. It was my first real trip. I was alone and disoriented, in a place where I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t really know why I was there or what I should do. I only knew I had to go.

Drifting Down to a New Sunrise

On the flight back, somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico, the feeling changed. I crossed some sort of invisible divide where I re-entered the life of the States: the life of work, obligation, responsibility and long hours. I dropped back into that weight as though it had never been lifted. It almost felt natural. But it’s not.

My Memory Walks The City

As a writer and a constant reader of books, I’ve begun to feel increasingly disconnected from other people. I think it comes from spending too much time alone in a room. There’s a glass barrier between myself and the rest of the world. I’m seeing it all at one remove, through the TV screen of my eyes, from several feet back in my head. Maybe it’s a consequence of traveling alone, when the glances of strangers don’t rest on you for very long.

You Can’t Go Back Again

Panama City, 10 years later.

The plaza in the colonial district still looks the same. The tidal flats are still muddy, and they still smell of the sea. Punta Paitilla still juts out across the bay, a glimmering jewel of finance, luxury, and life lived on another plane. The big ships are still there, floating at random anchorages, waiting to transit the Canal. A couple of them even look familiar. But so much has changed.

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes #16—And I Was Just a Stranger There

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place in Panama’s Darien Gap…

 

A Jungle Shift in the Trajectory

embera1.jpgDuring my time with them, I learned that the Embera of Panama’s Darien Gap lived in harmony with their surroundings. They didn’t try to be “close to Nature”—the idea would never have occurred to them. They were Nature, an inextricable segment of that community of life. It’s misguided to revere them for this, or to demonize them. They’re simply being what they are; acting in accordance with their essence. But we can and should learn from them.

A Postcard from The Spanish Main

 

 

spanishmain.jpgThe trade wind blows moist on the Caribbean side of Panama, stirring the palms of the tiny coastal fishing village of Portobelo, but it isn’t enough to put more than a ripple on the plate glass sea.