Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Come To Your Senses!

                    The Amador Causeway connects Flamenco Island (our temporary home)
                  with greater Panama City. It was built 100 years ago from the rocks and dirt
                                           dredged for the creation of the canal.

        That phrase "Come to your senses!" is typically used when someone is considered insane, lost, or generally off their rocker.

                                   (I don't know who this guy is.  I did a search on Google
                                images using the key words "insane, lost and 'off their rocker',
                                       and he popped up. I swear, it's true. So anyway...)

       Since we were struck by lightning a month ago and have been stranded here in Panama City on a broken, sweltering boat while our friends move on without us,  I haven't been insane, exactly...but I have cried a few tears like the guy in the photo. And I have been a little lost at times.

        But then, today my morning mediation by Benedictine Monk Thomas Merton told me to "Come to my senses." Literally. He directs that when we are lost, afraid or overwhelmed, the key is to STOP. And LOOK. Listen. Feel the earth. Take a look around. Take a whiff. Dip your toe in the water. Take stock, and try to figure our where in the heck we are. So we can find our way out.

The Revolution Tower is a brand new addition to the Panama City skyline. She's a beauty!

      So as Chris works to repair and rebuild the wounded Espiritu, we're finding time to "Come to our senses" and immerse ourselves in our new home (HOME: meaning literally "Where you live."). It's a pretty amazing place.

             They film the Panamian version of "Dancing With the Stars" at this theater.
              It's the bastard child of the US version. Yes, America, you should be proud --
                       your little cultural seedlings are popping up around the world.

Locals play checkers under a tree in the park using soda bottle tops 

          Look! It's a Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang bus! This amphibious bus is so cool -- but you couldn't pay me a million dollars to ride it on the water. It looks like it could sink at any second, and you'd be trapped inside. But I was thrilled to admire her from the shore!

We think the Panama City skyline looks like Singapore or Hong Kong

      ...and yet, you can never forget that the city is cut out of the rain forest. This shot was taken from a parking lot in the center of the city. The foliage grows so fast thanks to the daily deluge of rain, that if you turn your back for a minute it seems it might overtake you.

        Some days I have the sensation that I have been simply plunked here in Panama City, not unlike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

"How did we get here, Toto?"

    But, not unlike Dorothy, I figure the only way out is THROUGH. So you may as well enjoy the journey, make some friends and see the sights along the way.

Oh, my. This is at the entrance to the Flamenco Yacht Club. Sigh...

The "K Street" in Panama City bears no resemblance to the one in Washington, D.C. -- thank God.

Of course, since Panama City was founded 500 years ago, there are many old churches.
This Jesus wears an Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

It's unclear if this Jesus is in thoughtful repose (a la "The Thinker") or simply nodding off

       OK, I'm pretty sure most Protestants would find this one offensive. Is that really Jesus bowing before Mother Mary? It looks like he's asking for his allowance or something. And is the sculptor really saying that Mary "holds the entire church in her hands?"

            I like this Jesus on the top of one of the very oldest churches in town. It looks like he's the Holy Choir Director about to lead us all in a rendition of..."He's got the whole world in His hands...?"

               If you look at the top of the bell tower it appears the tippy-top of the cross has been
               knocked off. By lightning, perhaps? It's certainly an occupational hazard here
                            in Panama City, especially during the rainy season.

            Check out this statue of Simon Bolivar. Man, does he look like a piece of work!
         Look at his posture -- the hip jutted out to the side just so. And that pompadour hairstyle!
               I guess it takes a certain personality type to conquer and overtake entire continents.

          It will take us weeks and weeks to get to know this city, which is convenient, because...
               that's about how long it will take to nurse Espiritu back to health!

This parking spot at the Canal Administration office is reserved for "ME." Well, alrighty then!

Panama City is a perfect blend of the old and the new

    We visited the Panama City Costco (called "Price Smart" here), and stopped in for a snack. It seems that wherever we go in Latin America, the adage is proven true: Nuns love Costco pizza.

                                          "Can't a sister eat her pizza in peace?"      

                                Yikes. Sorry, sister.   As you were...and have a great day!

Do you think this flat screen would fit on the boat? Sigh...me thinks not.

       The Panama City Costco has the same mounds of fattening treats that you've come to know and love in the Costcos in the states -- with the rows of Colgate toothpaste lined up behind, as a chaser.

 In the Allbrook Mall there's a store called "El Costo" with rock-bottom prices unlike even the 99 cent stores in the states. $1.99 for a perfectly presentable nightgown. Made by little hands in China or North Korea, no doubt. Sigh...

Is this guy doing the Electric Boogaloo? Or Maybe the Hokey Pokey? Anyway, interesting pose...

         OK. We admit we have no idea what this means. Uh...well, monoliths are usually
                 phallic symbols, yes? So this "rooster" on the top slams home this idea,
                   in case we're too dense to figure it out?           Yikes. Who knows.

Drawing on a wall next to an alley in the Casco Viejo part of town


    So. Life itself is change.

By looking at the nature of things, we see that nothing remains the same for even two consecutive moments.

   Change is Life.

  We'd best accept this and use this fact to our advantage.

 "Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake." -- Father Thomas Merton

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