From the bustling Panama City to the Darien (reachable only by canoe), from palatial estates to tiny one-room abodes, from the stately Embara to the diminutive Guna, from brilliantly colored toucans to the lowly mosquito, Panama is a country of contrasts.
When we were driven down Millionaire Road, we were in awe—both at the fabulous homes and also at the enormous potholes in the gravel road. The driver could not look at the scenery because of watching the road so carefully.
We enjoy most of the contrasts. The Guna women in their native dress are a striking contrast to the young women in tight jeans and four-inch heels. A modest home may have a profusion of fragrant flowers while the landscaping of an enormous compound is a mystery. The massive surrounding fence obscures our view.
Middle class as I am, I most like the modest, well-kept homes I’ve seen. I keep taking pictures for my own memory bank. No one is shy about color here; the stalls in the market feature bright paintings on everything from wooden bowls to peacock feathers. The houses also are every possible bright color. The Guna women sew molas with intricate layers of colorful reverse appliqué.
I especially love the “city buses.” They are brightly painted and the back features a picture of Jesus. Go figure. But it’s fun. They pass our home several times a day, but we’ve never ridden one. When we asked where the bus stops are, we were told all we have to do is wave and it will stop. Haven’t tried that yet, for it wanders quite a bit through the town and we think our walking to the market is actually quicker.
So this post will give a taste of what we’ve seen. No pictures of the negatives—just the positives, of which there are many more than these pictured.
The best contrast of all is in the people themselves. Their poverty in material goods is greatly surpassed by their richness of spirit.