I had an interesting conversation with a Panamanian friend. Her son and other family members are visiting his wife’s brother and family in Colorado. He said it’s beautiful there, so clean and orderly. The yards all look nice, and there are no dogs in the streets. I explained to my friend that if you don’t keep your yard cleaned up, you may hear from the neighborhood association. If your dog is running in the street, it will be taken to the dog place where you have to pay to get it back. If the dog is barking you may get a visit from the police. She was amazed. How could this be??
We are from the USA, Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave, so says our national anthem. But, what do we mean by freedom? How free are we really in the US? Even the little things, like your homeowners association telling you what you can and can’t do on your own property, and yes your dog can be sent to the pound of it’s running loose. We seem to be very concerned about bothering and being bothered by the neighbors and we have all sorts of rules and expectations.
Panama is quite different. Our neighbors had an outdoor party with music that went on until 4AM. The other neighbors just went to sleep. We play rock music all the time here and the neighbors insist that they like it. Working in front of your home is very common – turning logs into lumber, making furniture, repairing and painting cars, making concrete sinks, bathing the kids, cooking food over a wood fire, welding gates, and repairing small engines to name just a few things I saw recently. Yards are maintained, sort of, but no one complains until grass is so high you can’t see cars coming around the corner. Yard trash is routinely dumped in the nearest vacant lot or unoccupied bit of land. I’ve had to learn how to manage aggressive dogs in the streets who don’t like bikes.
Everything is a trade off. Do you want things to look a certain way, or do you feel better when you are free to let things go if you wish? I am a foreigner here so I cannot get involved in politics and I don’t know enough to speak intelligently on the subject, but it seems the people have at least as much freedom to express themselves and make their voices heard, and everyone votes.
There is freedom from being ruined by lack of health care, or health care costs. This is huge for me as one of the uninsured for most of my life. You don’t worry about being shot, or assaulted. Yes there is crime, usually theft and crimes of opportunity but we worry about it much less here. We worry about pretty much nothing, and it’s a great feeling. I never knew I suffered from lack of freedom until I came here and experienced something so different. And, most important you are free to be yourself, even if you are quite different in many ways. Nobody cares and they accept you as you are.
You are not free from rain and humidity though! Sunday night in Boquete was warmer but very muggy and damp. Yesterday and today in David have been very pleasant but the rains came at sundown last night and poured like crazy for a while, and then rained steadily into the night.
I’m happy to report that my eye problem that I blogged about in my last post is better. It’s not totally normal but there is definite improvement since Friday. yay!
Life in Panama. For us, it’s a very good life.