October 13, 2014
Journey´s end found Gary and I camped on a private coffee farm in Piedra Candela (Candel Rock), Panama. We have made friends with Mary Helen, the widowed owner of the farm, her daughter Helena (who live in the main home), her son Jorge and his wife and three children (who live next door in a building that used to be a small store). Mary-Helen closed the store when her husband got sick with cancer. The whole family believes that one reason their husband/father got cancer was exposure to the poisons that they spray on the coffee bushes.
Jorge would like to farm organically and most of his friends advise him that it isn´t possible to grow things without toxic chemicals. These friends of Jorge must have believed the Monstanto propaganda fed to them by those who stand to gain tons of money selling fertizer for $38 a bag. Gary does know how to garden organically and is anxious to show Jorge how it´s done using free or cheap local minerals instead of expensive fertilizers. Mary Helen let us park the truck on her land for free until we find land. Jorge and Gary´s indigenous friend, Kimberly, have been getting the word out. We do have one lead so far. We have to be patient since I don´t have a ton of money to spend on land and I don´t want to pay an inflated “gringo” price. I am not looking for land in the typical gringo areas near Volcan or Bogete since I could´t afford the inflated prices there.
Jorge and Gary seem to have really hit it off. Jorge has a very good sense of humor and they both seem to have a great time talking together. Jorge really admires Gary´s wealth of knowledge on subjects that he has been wanting to learn more about. I can only understand a few words that pop up in the conversations. I am studying my Spanish books but it will take time to absorb the pronounciations of words. It is like being a deaf – mute and it is one of the most challenging of things to go through. I only hope my brain synapses are able to pick up a new language at my age. Communication is going to be so important.
We are the town celebrities and we get stares and waves all day. We won´t have an address even if I get land so if any of you get down this way you can get to Candela via bus from a Rio Sereno. You would take the bus up to the last stop in Candela. We are about a 1 kilometer hike from that last stop. Any of the locals would probably be able to tell you where the gringos are living.
Kimberly and her family have come by quite often and we practice speaking Spanish words. We were also invited to her sister´s home which is a small one-room coffee-picker´s barracks. Many of Kimberly´s family want to learn English and the children are always bringing their English workbooks up to me and asking me to pronounce words. It is just as hard for them to pronounce English as it is for me to pronounce Spanish. The kids are adorable to listen to. Kimberly really wants to learn English the most and she hopes that we will be good friends and help each other to learn. I hope so too. She has two young children (a boy and a girl) who she hopes to learn English too. She and the children´s father are either split up or divorced. All the sisters seem to help take care of each others´ children. I wish I would have had this kind of system when I was raising Jade. It is nice having an extended family around to help with childcare.
This computer has a Spanish spell check….so sorry is anything is mis-spelled. I have been using the internet cafe in Rio Sereno since my laptop is having connection issues. I don´t want to buy a phone or service until I know where I am going to live. Candela is directly on the border of Panama and Costa Rica. Our reception on a phone or laptop may be different, depending on which tower we end up being closest to. In the meantime I will have to be patient and use this cafe which is a 40 minute, bumpy, sometimes muddy, bus-ride to town. I get out my dictionary when the locals speak to me. It is challenging but good practice butchering their language ;-). Gary´s phone stopped working at one point and now it seems to be working again for the moment.
I have sooooo much to say about life here but too little time. I am hoping my communication methods get better in the near future. Until next time…..Hasta luego!