Growing up in Panama, I spent most of my weekends and summer vacations in my grandmother’s rustic beach house. The land where it’s located is about 10,000 square feet of lush vegetation and steep hills. Not so far one can see the Pacific Ocean. I remember clearly those hot summer days running around the estate with my brothers and cousins from dawn to dusk, when our parents would summon us back to the house worried we might encounter a snake in the dark. I remember my father rising early to plant trees and pick up different herbs. A cilantro tea each morning. Simpler times, indeed…
The contrast between the city, chaotic and densely populated, and the interior of the country is radical. Real estate developers and the hotel industry are responsible for more and more new luxury resorts and beachfront communities each year. Little by little, the landscape is tarnished. We are losing more and more of the virgin nature. My grandmother’s beach house is not completely abandoned, but it’s true that as her grandchildren have grown older we simply have not kept going to the beach as frequently as before. Life happens, doesn’t it?
This breaks her heart so a few weeks ago we all decided to spend a weekend there, just like old times. “The house on the hill”, her estate is titled. The land keeper has gotten old as well and it was not hard to notice the land is looking a bit unkept, the trees dry with brown leaves, the grass long and not as green as before. Of course this is not entirely his fault since Panama’s dry season, three months a year, is rough.
With May comes the rain and everything will turn green. My mom and her brothers have talked about different projects to remodel the house, maybe build a small pool. This land brings me beautiful memories of my childhood and I’ll say it over and over again, Panama’s beauty begins when we distance ourselves from the concrete jungle that the capital has become, and venture into the interior of the country.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
George Gordon Byron.