Paso Canoas, Panama/Costa Rica

May 04, 2017

The Return:

   You can never stop time. Hell, you can’t even slow it down…at least not yet. Today was my first full day back in Canoas and I can’t help but to recognize how much the town has changed since I was last here in July. First and foremost, the government laid a fresh layer of blacktop on the Pan-American Highway from about 10 kilometers out until about a quarter of a km to the physical border—and they are working on more every day. The little tienda next to my gym is now a Pollolandia—that kind of sucks, but they may have the best chicken wings in town--, there is a new Police building in the lot that housed our African refugees from last year—I guess that was the payout for a job well done--, and the aduana’s office on the Panama side has received a full face lift to match the new color scheme of the ministry of tourism—it’s pretty smooth looking. And, the cinema is open. Yeah, the same cinema that has been under construction forever. The same cinema that was the brunt of so much gossip while I was here last year. “That’s a narco job. It will never open.” I was told. But, it is now OPEN! I am happy to see this for my own sake, but fear that it will offer little enjoyment for the community. Tickets will probably be too expensive and many people here do not have much interest in going to the movies. To top it off, many people in Canoas are annoyed at the whole project because—as is the case with every big money business in Canoas—it is owned by a foreign family. This time it is an Indian man, I am told. A town in the middle of the jungles of Panama/Costa Rica dominated by wealthy Arabes (as they are referenced in Spanish), Chinos, y Indios not to be confused with indigenas) business owners. Much like in the U.S., this is a common point of contention through the community and one of which I am consistently reminded. **Note: I later found out that I was misinformed. The cinema is proudly owned by a Tico family.

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   The biggest surprise of all is that my house has been completely redecorated. Now, Miguel and Elba have partitioned off the main part of the house. This is being rented to a young married couple—the husband (Jose) is Salvadoreño and a pastor in town, and the wife (Vanessa) is a Tica. The old outdoor living room—which was previously void of furniture aside from two old anti-gravity camping chairs—is now fully loaded. There is a sofa, love seat, single chair, and full table and chairs. The door to the living room closes and locks while the living room leads into my bedroom and bathroom area. With the redesign, all of the space beyond the locking door is now considered ‘my space’. I have full access. I cannot even begin to explain how much nicer it is for me to be able to come home, open my door and feel like I am in my own place. I can sit on the couch and watch movies or work at the table. Last year, if I wanted to relax to watch a movie or video chat with Rachel, I had to lay in bed. For me, this drives me crazy because I feel like I am spending most of my day in bed. Now, I only have to lay down at night to sleep or to take the occasional nap. This is a significant upgrade. Moving down the outside walkway past my door, all of overgrown foliage has been reconquered and the pathways are now fully open. This leads past the second living space—which now has its own finished bathroom and locking door as well—and through the swimming pool area. Since they sacrificed their old kitchen in the partitioning, the new kitchen is in the covered patio area beside the ranch. The new kitchen space has a much better feel to it. The air flows through that the tree from the arbor peek through the open sides. To top it off, all of the little things that leaked or malfunctioned have been repaired. In total, I am thoroughly impressed with how beautiful Miguel and Elba have made the house. 

Photo Courtesy of Si.Cultura.Cr

   I guess this is how it always is. Things move so quickly. So many little bits being negotiated at different speeds. You turn your back for a few moments and they start to fall into place…changing the landscape right before your eyes. This is the constant struggle of The Return. So much is the same, yet the place is not as you left it. While I could drone on about this for quite some time, I am enjoying cruising through town and checking out all of the new businesses, fresh roadwork, and buildings with fancy new paint-jobs. To top it off, I am definitely going to check out the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie at the cinema this weekend…I’ll keep that one on the down low.

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