MY TIME WITH THE NGÄBE PEOPLE OF PANAMA

My first contact with the Ngäbe happened in 2011 on a bus trip from Panama City to David, in the province of Chiriqui. We had just left Santiago when suddenly our bus pulled over and stopped, and remained so for the next eight hours. Hundreds of vehicles were lined up on both sides of a roadblock orchestrated by the Ngäbe tribe. That’s when I became interested in them and their cause.

Not unlike Indigenous groups the world over, they were protesting the encroachment of their lands by their own government, as well as the multi nationals, hell bent on plundering their lands with their mining operations and hydro electric projects. Ironically, my young seat mate happened to be one of that particular tribe. It wasn’t long until she was fast asleep, using my shoulder for her pillow. I learned a lot that day, and although most of the people on the bus were extremely annoyed over this sudden interruption, I was not one of them. The driver was gracious enough to let us out to stretch, so I immediately headed to the front lines (once my seat mate woke up) to see the action for myself. It was ominous at best, and it would lead me to research their cause at length once we arrived at our destination. In fact, it would become a central theme in my apprenticeship novel I AM THE ONE written under my pen name (www.ddander.com).

Finally, about eight hours later, we were allowed to pass. A couple of hours prior to that, they’d lit a huge bon fire in the middle of the Pan American highway. I snapped a shot of a protestor which seemed to encapsulate the moment, at least for me. I’ll attach it, but it means nothing without the above context.

I experienced many more rotating road closures, particularly during 2012, and in fact wondered if I’d even make it to the airport to catch my flight. I did, but a visit with friends in Boquette would have to wait for another day. Even though these were minor inconveniences to me, to the Ngöbe, these protests were central to them finally getting some rights constitutionally. Rights that they’d fought and died for, and still fight for every day.

I have a tendency to get to know people quite well, particularly those of other cultures. The biggest draw back, it seems to me, is that they rarely trust us, at least as a group. I don’t blame them. Individually, it’s quite a different story, but I have to keep reminding myself that even though I may not be prejudice, that doesn’t mean others aren’t prejudging me because of my race, my language, and a whole host of other supposed offences that I or others have committed.

I’m in Panama now, and have spent several weeks helping build a home for a family of the Ngöbe tribe in the mountainous region on the side of Volcan Baru. What an experience it’s been, and continues to be! Trust me, it’s incredibly labour intensive, and I haven’t shovelled rock and sand, and wheeled cement to this extent in a very long time. Physically demanding but oh so satisfying.

We’re making great progress, and in fact, the pastor in that area, (Rodrigo), is planning a surprise service at that home this evening instead of at the church, which is still further up the mountain. Remember, everyone walks here, in fact, they walk miles to attend these events. I hope I’m able to join them this evening, weather permitting and I have a ride.

I’ll try and post a few photos as well. This family survives on very, very little, but they are generous beyond measure. We pack our lunches but they insist on feeding us. We know they don’t do this out of their surplus. They have none. But they’re happy and they treat us as family. Men and women, and indeed their children, all pitch in. Even when we leave for the night, guaranteed, any gravel pile, sand pile, concrete blocks, etc. that needs to find its way to the job site will have materialized by morning. The path from the road to their home is approximately 300+ meters long (1000+ feet), and the mighty wheel barrel is their only mode of transporting these items.

So, yes, I love these people. They greet us with hugs in the morning, they feed us at lunch time, and they walk us to the road each evening, and again, there is never a shortage of hugs. This is my brief take on the people of the Ngöbe that I’ve gotten to know. Soon this project will be completed and then I’ll make my way down to the Comarca to see what awaits me there.

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SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

Volunteer somewhere. Give without expecting something back. Love the unlovable. If you can’t afford to give financially, then give of your time. Is it not more precious anyway? At leave give someone a smile, or the benefit of the doubt, or perhaps the shirt off your back, if necessary. Think not of yourself constantly. We all have aches and pains, we’ve all hurt others or have had others hurt us. Forgive. Set yourself free, and possibly them. Most of the above are cliches, a supposed no no in the literary world. Please, give me a break! They’re also true, so cliche on! Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, are words that I try to apply every day of my life. Do I fail? Of course, but I’ll still try again tomorrow. Apply the above, and I can guarantee you’ll find mucho satisfaction!

TRANSFORMATION

I know I’ve changed over the years, and hopefully, for the better. But one thing I hope to never change is my love for other cultures, and along with that, the sense that I could be planted anywhere in the world and still be in my happy place. Anything of consequence is relational by its very nature. In my case, it’s with others who share an enthusiasm for life, those who, on the surface, appear to be an alpha to my omega. Caution is not a word I relate well to, and on occasion my stubbornness has led me into situations and places that perhaps I should have avoided. But then I think of the people that would not be in my life today had I not taken the opportunity placed before me, as well as the experiences that now contribute loads of material to this “want to be” writer. I’m not rushing toward the edge of the cliff, but neither am I taking a slow boat to China.

AND SO THE JOURNEY CONTINUES . . .

This post finds me in Panama again, a place I’ve frequented over the past few years. I essentially began my writing career (if it can indeed be called that) while travelling the highways and byways throughout Mexico, followed by Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and finally Panama.

I had no intention of staying in Panama; it was merely another stop on a highway going anywhere except where I’d already been. But that all changed through a chance encounter (God encounter?) that changed my world. I will refrain from discussing this further at this juncture but will return to it at a later date.

Suffice it to say, I’m here now, and probably for an extended stay, and if so, my Español had better improve substantially!

I’ll bring this post to a close now, as I haven’t blogged for a very long time, and want to make sure this actually works. Let me know!

IT WAS NEVER ABOUT “IF”… IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT “WHEN

I’m alone a lot, Especially at night,

But lonely I’m not  Cause I know there is light

At the end of the tunnel,  Though long it may be,

At the end of the day, She’s waiting for me,

And soon I will leave,  And then they will say,

We didn’t believe He’d really go away

I tried to tell them  Time and again,

It was never about “If,” It was always about “When.”

I AM THE ONE . . . MY NOVEL

It’s finally done! Actually, a novel is never really finished, at least not in the mind of its’ author. But there comes a time when one has to say “enough already!”

So that’s what I’ve done. The cover is complete, the short book description, the authors bio, table of contents, photo, disclaimers, links, and everything else that’s required is fait accompli.

My formatter awaits final instructions. I’m quite sure that KDP and Amazon are anxiously awaiting my submission (yeah, right) which should happen very early in the new year.

My website will also be complete in the next few days with all the appropriate links that will ensure I can be found wherever I dare to trod in this great big, wonderful world.

So, here’s the short book description, followed by the cover.

What began as a “journey of discovery” for our wayward adventurer became an epic adventure into the underworld of “secret training camps,” the plight of an indigenous people, the corrupt politics of a foreign country, and the insidious workings of the multi nationals where laws that applied at home were bought and sold to the highest bidder. But, change was in the air, and Marcos was ready to execute his plan. Only one piece of the puzzle remained, and when Aaron showed up at the “training camp,” he knew he had the final piece. He had waited for over 20 years for this very day, and now it was here!

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                                                           I’m not invisible . . . 

“Why can’t anyone see me?”

“I see you. I see you better than you see yourself.”

“What are you saying?”

“It’s easy to blame others for not seeing you, but let me ask you a question. Do you see others, or are you so wrapped up in yourself that you can no longer see?”

“That’s not fair!”

“Really? May I suggest that the moment you begin to see others; I mean really begin to see others, that they will begin to see you as well.”

“Are you telling me that this is my fault?”

“Is it? Remove the log from your own eye for a moment and really look, and then tell me what you see.”

“I see you ragging on me, that’s what I see!”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Angry!”

“Anything else?”

“I want to smack you! What a jerk!”

“Wow, are your cheeks ever red!” 

“What?”

“All those people over there are starring at you. I guess you’re not invisible anymore!”

“I hate you!”

A CHANGE IS A COMING . . .

I stopped for a short visit with Mom today at the Villa in Falher. She recently made the decision to move there from the place She and Dad had occupied for close to ten years. In June of 2012, Dad passed away, and we weren’t sure if Mom would move then or not. She decided she would stay where she was until she felt it was the right time to move. Fortunately, she is in good health, and as a result, she could make that decision, and did, when she was good and ready.

But, we wondered, how did she really feel about the move? She doesn’t always share a lot of information but today was different. She asked me to look at her scribbler at what she had written. I read it and I asked her if I could share it on my blog. She reluctantly agreed. So here it is, in her own words.

A change is a coming
I feel it in my bones
I know it’s going to happen
Despite my moans and groans

I’m moving to a new place
Not so far from here
Will be very different
From all the talk I hear

They say you’ll like it,
Guess I’ll wait and see
I know I’d be welcome
But much will depend on me

No more washing dishes
No more sweeping floors
Will I just be sleeping
While others do the chores?

Will I get fat and lazy
As some say they do?
Will I gobble everything
Or just have a little chew?

My 85 years has taught me
To take things as they come
Enjoy what this life offers
No sense in being glum

Now I’m in my new home
A very pleasant place
Everyone so friendly
Smiles on every face!

So come for a visit
I’m sure you will agree
That this new home
Is the perfect place for me!

Poem by Katherine M Anderson . . . Our Mom

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DIFFERENT WORLDS, DIFFERENT LIVES …

She looked as beautiful today as she had when I first met her. We had connected then and we connected now.

I’ve seen and spoken to her on occasion over the past few years, but today we had a chance to chat for a bit.

Different worlds, different lives, but it mattered not. I live for these encounters, and they happen frequently in my life.

It may only be a snapshot of that person’s life, a moment in time, but when I look at that moment, a beautiful portrait begins to emerge.

I am truly blessed to have this person in my life, and though little was said, volumes were spoken.

And I like that!

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CRACKED …

Cracked, not broken. I think that describes a lot of us . Life, circumstance, choices perhaps, have shaped us to be what we are today.

Some of us choose to blend in, become part of the great maze. To be, or at least appear to be, “normal.”

But, some of us choose to embrace ourselves right where we are. And that can disturb those around us. We don’t quite “fit.”

And we don’t want to either.

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