Talk Thursday ~ Esperanza

Esperanza (fem noun)
1. desire
a. hope
2. something or someone that gives hope
a. hope

The Atlantic runs a short film video series on their website.   Recently it published today’s video, “From Panamanian Gang Members to City Tour Guides” as part of the “Editor’s Picks”.

From the website:

The proprietors of Fortaleza Tours have a fragile truce within the “red zone” of Panama City. In the eyes of Panamanian law, once you make it to a gang list, there’s no way off. But Fortaleza wants to change that. Not long ago, their tour guides may have been the ones to rob foreigners wandering through the area. Now, former gang members give tourists a behind-the-scenes look at their past gangland life, and all financial transactions with the tourists are voluntary. This documentary by MEL Films, Gang Tours of Panama, shows how violence is waning, the hospitality sector is moving in, and a relatively new feeling of safety has returned to the historic center of Panama City.

Author:  Leah Varjacques

I’ve read about Esperanza and its various businesses such as Fortaleza in various publications over the last few years.  The motto of the group borrows from Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries celebrated motto; “Nothing stops a bullet like a job”.

Fortaleza Tours is one of the six businesses that have developed from Esperanza.  There is a handyman company, a creole restaurant, a seafood distribution service, a recording studio, and a messenger/delivery service.  Now, in partnership with  MIT’s Sloan School, an investment fund has raised seed capital for new entrepreneurs.  New business owners will  receive support from a network to help each one succeed.

When the tour business started, it ran only on Saturdays.  Now, groups run every day of the week if there is two people or more interested, and over two thousand people have taken the tour.  Tours cost about $15.00 per person, please click on the link here for more specific information about the tours.  I’ve never taken one myself but I’d like to one of the times I’m back in Panama City.

I hope you enjoy the short film today about the project which I am happy to present to you…from the campo.



About indacampo

You'll find me at blogging about Panama...and other things.
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4 Responses to Talk Thursday ~ Esperanza

  1. Scott MacDonald says:

    Hi from the old country, Canada. heehee

    I hear great things about Panama and I know you cant trust everything you read online.

    I am thinking of retiring to Panama and am actually looking at the area in or around Las Tablas.

    With an after tax and exchange income of $1500 US (I hope) would I do OK on my own??


    • cicero3332 says:

      Scott, it depends upon whether you want to live like a tiypical Panamanian, or if you need North American comfort. You could find a place to rent in the Las Tablas area for $200 a month, but it won’t have air conditioning or screens. More comfortable quarters will consume a bigger chunk of your income.

  2. Gwen says:

    i am sitting here crying and now need to blow my nose. I love your blog. Thank you so much.
    We have made two trips toPanama and it is so funny to say taking a trip to Panama, and then see the funny look on their face. We were in Panama in March and stopped in the town up up from you that has the oldest church in continuous use in the Americas. As we are walking to the plaza, all of the women leaving were carrying mattresses and we were so astounded that I didn’t take a picture. It was so sureal to see every woman caring a mattress. Not a big one, more child size but brand new in a wrapper. The Church and town were packed because they were having a service and the town was having a festival,. We found out later on it was the international day of women. I really wish I had a picture😊

    • indacampo says:

      The church in Nata. Funny, one of our friends love saying the name of that town as much as I love saying Macaracas! We have an amazing Spanish Colonial history in this part of Panama. Another interesting place to see is Parita, it’s a cute little place full of history.

      Yes, many people use those little colorful foam mattresses to sleep on, the fortunate actually have bed frames to sleep on. When one starts thinking about how differently a neighbor down the street could be living from how you are it makes one pause. 🙂

      Thank you so much for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed and were touched by this post.

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