We’ve just come back from having an overnight visit in the Rio Hato/Buenaventura area. This was at the gracious invitation of a fellow blogger Pam who is visiting from the Estados Unidos. This post is an introduction to what amounted to a contemplative (for me) 24 hours with Pam and what I’ve dubbed the “Pam Fam”. Let’s call it “The Panameño Philosophy Whirlwind Tour”.
Some of you may wish to go to Pam’s blog as linked above and start from the beginning. If not here is the Cliff’s Notes version (with apologies Pam if I boob anything up):
- Newly minted from college in 1968 Pam joined the Peace Corp and assigned to Rio Hato, then a small village in the Panamanian frontier (remember this is the Cliff’s Notes);
- While trying to get by living in what amounted to an insect and rat infested shack, a young mother by the name of Minga took Pam under her wing, realizing that if she didn’t the poor American Gringa that spoke Spanish poorly might starve or collapse from some other malady such as dengue or dysentery;
- A friendship was born from shared hardships (Cliff Notes, remember). Pam eventually completed her time with the Peace Corp and left Rio Hato to return to Norte America;
- Because communication was bad (and still is to this day, believe me) Pam and Minga never kept in touch and went on with their separate lives. Pam married, obtained her doctorate, had children and became a successful businesswoman and author (not necessarily in that order but you get the drift). Minga had a few more children and continued to live in Rio Hato, working hard to care for her children, house and her husband, never lifting herself out of the class that she was born in to;
- Fast forward about 40 years later, Pam (now a widow) is on a business trip to Panama accompanied by her daughter. She rents a car and with her daughter as co-pilot, drives to find Minga in Rio Hato. Minga, Sister of the Night and Pam the Sister of the Day. The rest is history (read the blog if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it);
- Pam started returning to Panama a few times a year shortly afterwards. On one of her trips she rented a villa at Buenaventura. A housekeeper named Gloria came with the villa. As the housekeeper Gloria was to be at Pam’s beck and call. Since Pam is not a beck and caller a different relationship formed. What I have dubbed the “Pam Fam” is now a blend of Minga and her extended family, Gloria and her children and now grandchildren and Pam’s Norte Americano* friends and her biological family.
I found Pam’s blog shortly after I started mine. How? Pam says the most searched for term that lead people to her blog is “How to kill a chicken.” I have no wish to learn how to kill a chicken but I was looking for information on Pamameño Fiestas in preparation for one sort of local of celebration or another. What I found instead was a wonderfully written blog full of touching stories about traditions, relationships, family and love that spans generations and continents.
Still to come: An invitation to visit Pam and the Fam.
* I always use Norte Americano to refer to anyone from the U.S. or Canada. By referring to people from the U.S. as “Americans” discounts the Americans that are from South and Central America.