Thursday, March 10, 2011

Panama - Arriving in Chica

Dear Mark

After a few days we left La Chorrera and headed to LaLa's second home in Chica. Chica is just less than a one hour drive up in the mountains. Locals would say the town is in the "interior" of the country. Chica is where LaLa was born and raised and Lavi still has a lot of family here, including one of our favorite aunts, Tia Tina. The first time I visited Chica the road was not paved. It was like driving in a dried out creek bed. The trip from the highway is only 15km, but with lots of curves and bends. It used to take an hour and half, but they paved the road about 10 years ago and the drive from the highway takes 20 minutes.

I enjoy coming to Chica. The air is cooler and breezy. The nights are cooler as a result. The town life is slower. There are lots of farms in Chica and many individuals make a living from farming. Tio Danielo and Tia Tina recently use to farm the land. As they have aged they have opened a Tienda (small shop) to make a living. Lavi's Abuelo (grandpa) Mariano (LaLa's Dad) still lives in town. He's 92 years old but could probably still out arm wrestle me.

I mentioned Tia Tina. She is married to LaLa's brother, Danielo. Tina is very special to me because, well she just out right spoils me and I love it. She is a sweet heart. She always makes me special treats like empanadas and fresh squeezed orange juice. Back in the 90's Hilary Clinton visited Chica and had lunch with Tia Tina. Tina had worked with a local women's group in town. We have the newspaper article in the house. I'll have to scan it some time to show you all.

One thing about Chica that I've mentioned already is that life is just a bit slower. It's pretty amazing to say that. Panama in general is pretty slow. It's because of the heat of course. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to move fast when it is so hot out. You see lots of people standing in the shade, or walking with umbrellas when it is hot out. The town life here slows even more. I find as a result I slow down too. I think I really begin to relax when I'm here. Honestly there is not a lot to go do that I have already done in this town. So we talk and read books, enjoy the breeze and have the freshest food I have ever had. Soups made from vegetables from LaLa's garden. Yummy!

Over the years during my visits I've learned to "go native." That will illicit jokes about banana hammocks from Jason, but that is not what I mean. I have learned to slow down the pace in the heat. One sure fire way to be uncomfortable is to move quickly and do a lot in the heat, especially at midday. No, I've learned to go "Panama speed" over the years. My biggest evidence of this is that we were late to dinner the other night by 45 minutes and it didn't bother me at all .

I've got a little slide show of pictures of the house below for you to see. It's an open house that LaLa has continually improved over the years. The best part is the bohio that is on the upper part of the property.


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