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Winter Reflection

Did you ever notice the way tomatoes taste in the winter? They are as hard as tennis balls, tasteless, and feel like Styrofoam in your mouth. Why? Because they are not in season! We continue to buy them simply because they are available. The movement to buy locally and eat seasonally makes all kinds of sense. But it requires that we tune into nature’s cycles and adjust to the current season.

Back east, where I spent the first 30 years of my life, an occasional rainstorm was welcome and wonderful. We stood at the window and watched it come down. We made tea and curled up under a blanket with a book. The storm passed, the sun came out, and we went back to our normal, dry day activities. Not so in the Pacific Northwest where winter is one long rainstorm. Without plans to escape to warmer climes this winter, I have been bracing myself.

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I recently dug out a piece of inspiration to help me remember to embrace the season instead of bracing against it. In so many words, it reminds me to pay attention to the rhythms of the season, and find a way to appreciate this wonderful, mystical time of year.

Start by eating seasonal foods. There are abundant winter vegetables and buying them means you are eating fresh, locally grown and/or organic produce. Anything else has either been manipulated by technology or shipped a great distance and therefore not fresh. A website I found called cuesa.org offers seasonality charts and recipes using seasonal foods.

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Turn off electronics, turn down the lights and turn inward to reflect on your dreams and wishes for the coming year. Formulate resolutions that will enable you, like your garden, to flower and grow come spring. Discover the immense capacity we all have for turning dark into light, bad into good, and for starting anew with a fresh approach.

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(photo by Julia Hopkins)

Often in nature something has to die in order for something else to be born. Something has to end in order for there to be a beginning. Which is why it is important to recognize that the tough times you experience, the darkness in your life, is directly connected to the goodness and light that is to come.

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Celebrate the season! There is so much to be thankful for! Decorate your home, string lights to counteract the dark. Share seasonal meals with family and friends.

But don’t forget to occasionally step away from the frenzy of the holidays. To notice winter’s natural beauty, to grow quiet and become aware of the life that is taking root underground and inside of us. We have the ability to discover the balance and growth naturally occurring within us as we prepare for the light that is sure to come.

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Adios, Panama…

After eight winters in Panama, we have sold our condos and are moving on to the next chapter. There were a lot of reasons for this decision, but none of them had anything to do with the beauty of the island, the friends we made, or the cultural immersion that we experienced during the three months we spent there each year.

I will miss those things.

It was a rich time, largely because of our concentrated focus on one place, Isla Taboga. Returning year after year allowed us to skip the acclimation phase that cuts into travel time. We knew exactly what to do, where to go for a beer or a meal, what Panama City shops carried the things we needed, and who we were looking forward to seeing. We simply plugged in and started the season, able to go a bit deeper each year. It was enormously rewarding and we have zero regrets.

When we began this adventure, I was not exactly an enthusiastic participant. Panama is too far away, I reasoned. It’s too hot. I don’t speak Spanish. It’s not a place or a culture I would choose to retire to. But in the end, all of those things added to my appreciation of both Panama and our experience there.

  • It is far. We did not have many visitors. But we ran an Airbnb and VRBO business and met a lot of people from all over the world who did want to come to Panama.
  • It was hot. So hot. I could barely handle it. But I learned what it was like to be in a climate like that. To manage it. And I gained an understanding of the different rhythms that arise from living in a hot climate: early risings, siestas, slow movements, cervesa.

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    4pm at Playa Honda for a cold cervesa.

  • I learned Spanish! Enough to get by anyway. To have increasingly complex conversations with locals. And I am continuing to study and thinking about places to visit where I can keep it up.

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    A little bit of Spanish helped me to acquire fresh citrus fruit. “Quiere frutas Senora Irene?” “Si! Por favor, Aristedes. Cuantos?” “Cinco!” “Bueno! Gracias.”

  • I learned a lot about myself and my ability to adapt. To see scorpions and tarantulas and not freak out. To appreciate and respect the local culture. To operate outside my comfort zone. And to find a comfort level within that discomfort!DSC09230

Going forward, our hope is to travel and see some more of this beautiful world while we are still healthy and strong enough to do so. Our experience in Panama has inspired in us a desire to choose a place and stay put for a time, taking side trips perhaps, but keeping close to a base where we can settle in and become familiar with local culture.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal for prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” I would add that living among people for an extended period of time — learning where to shop, developing relationships however temporary with shopkeepers and neighbors, becoming humbled by being the new person can offer an expanded experience of that sentiment. To stay in one place until it feels familiar means that you have made a connection.

I will miss that aspect of our time in Panama. But I hope to find it, on some level, elsewhere.

As to where, we don’t know! Finances and circumstances will play a role. As the rain and wind begin to pummel us in Seattle, we know we want to get out of here for some of the winter. Boat life is great – in the summer. But it’s a long, cold walk down that dock in the rain.

Stay tuned. This blog will change it’s focus somewhat from writing about Panama, but it springs from that experience so I will continue to write as Panamama.

Adios, Panama.

BC is Burning

Holy smoke.

A week ago, we woke up on Quadra Island to what we initially thought was a lovely misty morning that would clear as the sun burned through, but turned out to be smoke from the wildfires that are consuming much of BC right now. The smoke was so thick that we could not see the mountains, normally majestic and clear, and could just barely make out the Cortes Island shore across from the sand spit.

Three weeks back, on our way north we stopped in this exact spot. The sky was a brilliant blue, the breeze smelled clean, with hints of salt and cedar. I hiked through the woods to the point of the spit and back, filling my lungs with the clean, fresh, BC air.

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Rebecca Spit from our boat a few weeks ago. Desolation Sound beyond.

Our reason for stopping here at this point was for me to see an eye doctor so that I could get to the bottom of a particularly tenacious case of conjunctivitis that I had been dealing with for five weeks. We took a taxi across the island, hopped on a ferry and spent the afternoon in Campbell River. On the ferry back, I strolled the car deck, as I had been advised to do by a local, asking if anyone was going to Heriot Bay (where we were anchored). One woman happily offered to give us a ride and I climbed in the back seat with two of her kids.

Courtney and her family are mandatory evacuees from Kamloops, where one of the wild fires was within a block of her house when they left. She, her husband, and their four children were staying in a home on the island, offered by a generous soul, until it was safe to go back. She was happy to help us out after so many had stepped up to help her family. As touched as I was by her story, the human condition is that unless we are in a situation, we don’t really know what it feels like.

That was nearly three weeks ago. (I saw her car parked outside the grocery store on our return trip last week so I knew they were still there).

And now, with the smoke surrounding us and reaching as far south as Seattle where the air quality has reached the worst in the country, rivaling L.A., it is no longer a problem belonging to someone else, “those poor Canadians.” It is in our faces literally.

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From this vantage point, we can normally see an impressive mountain range

My house is not burning. I still don’t know what Courtney is going through. But the air is thick with smoke and each breath makes me think about what is happening to my lungs. I can’t exercise and hike like I normally do on these islands because of the health advisories against doing so. A friend reported some joggers in Nanaimo looking like each breath was their last. The sky, normally blue at this time of year, is gray. The sun, while shining, appears as an orange orb in the sky. And the moon is amber. Every night.

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Ships emerging from the smoky haze.

Yesterday, Dan bought a double can respirator for me to wear from time to time to take a break from the bad air (always was a romantic, that guy). And he bought us two dust masks just in case. There have been times when I have felt a quiet panic. No where to run, no where to hide. It’s all around us and until the wind blows it away, or BC manages to put out the fires, we are stuck in it.

Yesterday we sat on the beach amidst summer time fun: kids on skim boards, teens flirting and playing volleyball, swimming, frisbee-throwing, partying fun. They did not let the smoke stop them. One guy walked by us and said, “What a day! What a beach! What a life!” We talked about our fortune in knowing that our homes were not burning to the ground. On his way back he offered us “an exceedingly cold beer!” which we happily accepted. His attitude turned mine around. I shed the feeling of panic, the trapped feeling and instead drank a cold beer on a smoky beach and started smiling again.

I choose to use this wee bit of suffering, this minor inconvenience, as an opportunity for solidarity with the people who have lost everything. The smoke will clear and our home will be fine. But sharing it on even a minor level has created empathy for Courtney and others in her position.

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Sunset over Hornby Island two years ago…

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Sunset over Hornby Island this year…

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Our Home on Vacation

Just over four weeks. That is how long we have been drifting around the waters north of Seattle, up as far as the Broughton Islands. It’s been an unhurried, laid-back journey, a mixture of stopping for days at a time when the mood strikes us, and pushing to cover distance when the tides and wind dictate to us.

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We will be out for a total of two months this summer at Dan’s unwavering insistence. I resisted the idea of being such a long time away from the fun of summer in Seattle and time with my daughters, but now, at this midway point in our summer voyage, I am grateful for the span of time Dan quietly insisted on.

 

For only with an extended amount of time away from the distractions of the city, resting my eyes on wide, expansive vistas, does my rhythm begin to harmonize with nature and do I achieve this level of peace and presence.

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A few days ago I had a moment when I was suddenly aware of how relaxed I felt. Clear. Open. Free. A moment of grace.

I remarked on this to Dan, saying, “In the city, our eyes rest on things right in front of us all the time. Out here, when I look at great breadths of scenery, I feel soothed on a deep level.” Dan smiled, knowingly, in agreement.

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Haro Strait from the Stuart Island Lighthouse, San Juans

The further north we go, as we have learned from 30 years of doing this, the more majestic and serene the surroundings, and the deeper our journey inward. We spent a week in the Broughtons, a stunning archipelago of islands and inlets near the top of Vancouver Island, a place we have visited many times, but that always holds something new for us.

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Malcolm Island, across Queen Charlotte Strait from the Broughtons, is one of our favorite shore stops because of the friendliness and unfailing reset that occurs there. Many of the island’s inhabitants are proud descendants of the Finnish settlers who sought to establish a utopian community, free from the tyranny of their homeland. It failed after a very short period of time, as most of those attempts do, but even after it’s original configuration dissolved, the community maintained its independent spirit, refusing to incorporate, and running much of the island as a cooperative venture. In fact, the store on the island, established in 1909 is the first Co-op in Canada from which the Canadian Co-op movement began.

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Malcolm Island Co-Op, established 1909

While on Malcolm, we were regulars at the pub…

Vincent, our Irish barkeep who gave us a ride home after we closed the place

Malcolm Island pub characters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went on a long bike ride around the rural island…

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We bought bread at the bakery and connected with friends old and new…

 

Heading south, we have gone back into Desolation Sound, crowded with boats but replete with views and warm, swimmable water, a rarity in this part of the world. Having woven remote locations with populated summertime fun and friend visits, a shift has occurred and I am grateful to this beautiful coast, our lovely home that we take with us, and my husband who puts up with all of my whims and hesitations, and gently unties the lines and points us in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

Political Yogurt

I like yogurt. I eat it a lot. It’s delicious, versatile, a good source of protein and, bonus, good for my tummy as it’s loaded with pro-biotics.

BUT it comes in plastic tubs. And, since my last post, even more than heretofore, I have begun examining my plastic consumption and ways to avoid it.

Starting this effort was a bit like starting a regimented diet. I kept bumping up against things that I could no longer do if I wanted to succeed in my effort. Automatic go-to’s in the grocery store and pharmacy were met with a screeching of brakes on the pavement and an alarmed internal cry (“PLASTIC! Whaaaaat? Nooooo!”) when I realized that I would have to find an alternative for my favorite lip balm…  or tomatoes… or yogurt.

By being more conscious about my choices, I began to notice how often I use plastic without thinking, when with just a little bit of adjustment I could cut out a significant amount.

This takes work and, naturally, willingness to do the work. It may seem hard and it can be time-consuming. But with a refocusing of our minds and a re-patterning of our habits, it can happen.

We’ve done it before. Remember the days before recycling was the norm? When it was introduced, and we realized its importance, we trained ourselves to never, ever throw glass or metal or paper in the garbage bin. It’s a no-brainer now. We don’t even think about it. Or if we notice that someone has (gasp!) put a glass bottle in the trash, we are outraged! It just looks wrong now that our brains have been retrained.

 

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What is wrong with this picture? Lots. Including non-biodegradable plastic trash bag…

The same goes for the compost bins ubiquitous on kitchen counters these days. I don’t even consider scraping food scraps into a garbage bin in my, or a friend’s, home. If I don’t see the bin, I automatically ask, “where is your compost?” See what I mean? We can do this!

But back to yogurt.

A lot of people are writing about their daily actions against the regime that is making our lives hell these days. The president’s egotistical decision to pull the U.S. out of  the Paris Agreement (joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not participating), has propelled me to take a personal responsibility for my part in the devastation of the climate, small though it may be. I am heartened by the governors and cities who have pledged to continue to participate and to abide by the decision made by those countries.

But what about right here at home? As in, my home? Not willing to give up yogurt, I thought, maybe I could buy one of those yogurt makers my friends had in college. Guess what many of them are made of? Yep. Plastic. Or containing plastic components. And they are expensive. And they take up a lot of room in my tiny galley.

I looked up “how to make yogurt” and found that it is surprisingly simple. Ingredients? Milk and yogurt. That’s it. So you have to buy one more container of yogurt (and recycle the container). But once you get your first batch made, you never have to buy a plastic container of yogurt again.

There are dozens of recipes on the internet. Yogurt can be made either stove top or in a slow cooker. The basic instruction is:

  • Heat the milk to 180° in a pan or crock pot. (You also need a thermometer – I use a candy thermometer that I already had and back it up with Dan’s point and shoot infrared thermometer).
  • Cool the milk to 110°.
  • Add a scoop of yogurt from your last batch, wrap the crock pot or pan in a towel to keep it warm and let it incubate over night.

In the morning, you have yogurt! For thicker yogurt, you can strain the whey (that clearish liquid that sometimes floats to the top in store-bought yogurt), which I did. Per advice, I lined a colander with coffee filters, placed it over a bowl and waited a couple of hours. Whey in the bowl, thick yogurt in the colander which I then transferred to a glass container that, full disclosure, has a plastic lid (I already had the container and so decided to use it, lesser of two evils and all that). And you can toss the whey or us it for its high-protein nutritional value. Again – lots about this online.

The yogurt is delicious. Mild. Even a little bit sweet. I used whole, organic, grass fed cow milk which may account for the sweetness. It can also be sweetened and flavored if you prefer.

This morning, I had my last bit of yogurt with organic strawberries (which came in a plastic box, dammit), and organic bananas, (which were plastered with stickers, grrrrrr…). And it was delish! So today, while I write and take care of my daughter’s new puppy, I’ll be making yogurt, too.

We have to try. Because the people in DC clearly do not have our backs. Nor do the packagers, marketers or business people.

All of this is do-able. We just have to have the will.

Are you with me? I’ll keep posting ideas if so. I’d love to hear from you if you are interested in the pursuit of this topic. I’m willing to do the legwork and share what I’ve learned.

Let me know by commenting on this site! And thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goose Noose

To balance out my story about the  pernicious Don Gallo (see previous post), I thought I’d treat you to another story involving fowl. But this time, not foul fowl. Rather, fowled foul. I’m not messing with you, I promise. Read on and you’ll see.

I had the opportunity recently to spend a couple of weeks working on the Maris Pearl, a 1944 tug boat moored at the end of my dock. Our friends who live on this spectacular vessel let me use it while they were out of town. Having a dedicated work space allowed me to spread out. At the end of the day, I could leave everything as it was instead of gathering up and putting away all my papers and notes as I do on my own, smaller vessel. Returning the next day to exactly where I had left off increased productivity noticeably.

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My office for two weeks – heaven…

My own boat/home is just a few slips away, so I walked back and forth several times a day to make coffee, eat lunch, use the head, and fetch whatever additional supplies I needed.

One day, on the way back to the Maris Pearl, fresh pot of coffee in hand, I saw a couple of Canadian geese just ahead. No big deal. Geese frequently patrol the docks (as do seagulls, crows, kingfishers, herons and a variety of water birds). Geese, in particular, swim by on summer evenings, just about the time grills are firing up and folks are gathering in cockpits to eat dinner. They have an uncanny sense of timing and apparently love progressive dinner parties.

However, this was a different sort of sighting. The male of the two stood guard as his mate drank rainwater that had collected in an upside down dinghy’s deflated bottom. My heart sank when I saw around her neck a tangle of six-pack plastic loops, which looked as though they had been there for a while and were tightening as she grew.

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It was an in-your-face example of the photos posted on environmental websites and affirmation for why I always cut those things, when I buy them (which I will no longer do), into tiny pieces. I watched for a few seconds, trying to work out a way I could possibly help her. They were both on alert, but did not fly away. She would drink, and then peck at the plastic, obviously bothered by this foreign object around her neck.

What to do, what to do?

I raced back to my boat, grabbed a piece of bread and a pair of scissors, knowing the likelihood of getting close enough to snip the thing off was slim. Even if I managed to grab her, I had no idea how tightly bound her neck was and I knew that wing flapping and pecking would add to the challenge.

But I had to try.

They were no longer on the main dock when I returned, but I found them exploring a finger pier between two boats. I coaxed them toward me, breaking off small bits of the bread and tossing them just in front of me. They waddled on over like we were old friends. “Hey, how’s it going? Sure, we’ll try some of that. Is it gluten-free?” (It was.)

My plan was to:

  1. Hold out a large piece of bread with my right hand, enticing the female.
  2. When the female got close enough, grab the plastic around her neck with my left.
  3. Then I would reach for the scissors, strategically placed down by my right side, and snip.

The problem with the plan was evident immediately. The male was right there with her and, as I began to slowly reach for the female, he came toward me aggressively, hissing and sticking his weirdly human looking pink tongue out of his narrow black beak.

These birds are big enough to give pause. I was sure they would not hesitate to attack me, jabbing me with those hard, pointy beaks. While I was pondering and strategizing anew, the female grabbed most of the bread out of my hand and smugly waddled away.

I needed help. This was not a one-person job. On the pier where I was performing my futile attempt at heroics, lives my neighbor, Rado, a retired tech/engineer guy, who is usually at home, working on his boat. The cockpit was tarped over so I couldn’t visually confirm his presence.

“Rado?” I said. “Yes?” came the disembodied response from under the tarp. “Can you help me?” Rado peeked out of an opening in the tarp and his technical brain immediately assessed the situation. “Oh,” he said simply, and then opened the tarp, donned latex gloves and stepped out. Without saying a word, he began to walk, slowly, step by step, toward the goose — the way one walks when sneaking up on someone — arms extended in “ready to grab” position. I could see the female was beginning to panic.

“Crouch down,” I suggested, “so you are less intimidating.”

We worked at it for a while, throwing bread one way for the male, trying to distract him to buy us a little time but the gander was having none of it. As I was about to give up, Rado pounced and – oh joy! – he had the female in his hands. Her wings were flapping wildly and feathers were flying like snow in a wind machine.

“Try to contain her wings!” I cried. Miraculously he did. Rado is amazing that way. I went in with the scissors, made one easy cut and she was free. Rado released her and she padded to the end of the pier, a bit stunned, but then popped off the pier into the water. Her mate was frantic, honking and squonking desperately somewhere down the dock.

Rado and I stayed put after a hug and a high five, not wanting to further frighten them. The goose and gander honked and called to each other until at last, the distraught gander found his lady love and joined her in the water.

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This is what was around her neck.

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In the photos of the goose you can see where the curly bit is protruding off to the side. The rings on the left were doubled over and you can see where I snipped more clearly, below.

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The two loops in my hand were around her neck but still loosely enough that I could make a clean snip without pulling on her neck.

Do I feel like a hero? Yes. Sort of. But to truly address this, I believe that we have to commit to getting rid of plastic – at least in our own lives. Innocent animals suffer because of our laziness and greed.

So what do we do? Plastic has become such a part of our lives that we don’t even think about it anymore. On my next trip to the grocery store after my goose encounter, I made a mental note of how many items I buy that have plastic in their packaging. Including twist ties, the seal around even glass bottles to prove they have not been tampered with, those little plastic square thingies that hold bags closed, the pour spouts in cardboard juice and milk cartons, etc.

I decided to become more conscious about my choices. To buy items in glass or paper containers only. To choose loose produce rather than bagged or plastic boxed produce. Even then, though, I reach for the plastic bags hanging by the produce to protect the lettuce or contain the peppers. It’s hard!

What about BPA-free plastic? Sorry – that is not the answer. I read that BPA-free plastics contain chemicals that rival toxic BPA and could even be WORSE for you.  AND – it’s still plastic as far as the environment is concerned.

In Panama, there is an astonishing amount of plastic garbage on the beaches, most of it washed up from the cities and passing ships. Over the years I spent there, I realized that the overwhelming trash is less a reflection on the habits of the local culture, as many tourists surmise, than it is on the unnecessary and wasteful packaging of the products our sector of the world pushes on the rest of the world. It’s stunning to see it – to see how much there is. In parts of the world that have facilities for disposing of garbage and recyclable materials handy and user-friendly, we are shielded from the visual proof of the enormous amount of trash we produce. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Sea birds and seals and whales are washing up on beaches, their bellies filled with plastic refuse. Chris Jordan, a Seattle based photographer has spent time among albatrosses on Midway Atoll, located 2000 miles from the nearest continent. His photographs of dead albatrosses’ remains, stomachs filled with plastic refuse, are devastating. If they don’t convince you to start sensitizing yourself to plastic consumption then nothing will.

One way to wrap your brain around changing your plastic habit is to try this 28 Day Plastic Purge Challenge.  This may help you to start thinking differently and noticing just how often we unwittingly incorporate plastic into our lives.

I started today.

Rooster Love

Some say it was love. Others insist it was cruelty. Quite possibly it was both. As most of us learn at some point in our amorous pursuits: Love can be cruel.

On one thing we can surely agree: The rooster was obsessed with my friend, Laurie.

On the island of Taboga, in the Bay of Panama, there lived a rooster whom we will call Don Gallo for the purposes of this story. Don Gallo lived at the top of the path, which led from Laurie’s seaside house and along which she had to walk to get anywhere on the island. Most days Don Gallo would be waiting for her as she came up the path. When she appeared, he followed closely at her heels, sometimes for her entire walk into the pueblo.

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The path from Laurie’s house…

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Further up the path, Don Gallo would be waiting …

Don Gallo’s manner of showing his love may be confusing to some. But recall for a moment the antics of the school yard when boys chased girls and then pinched them until they cried. We may not have recognized it as such at the time, but they knew it and we knew it. It was love.

You could see the same fervor in Don Gallo’s eyes as those school girls once saw in their boyish pursuers. His determination, his focus were the same.

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The eyes say it all…

Raised from chick-hood by Laurie’s seven-year old neighbor, Leo, and trained as a fighting cock, Don Gallo was adept at leaping up in the air and, talons extended, coming back down to strike his target. (Or embrace his love…)

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Cock fighting school

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Eager students – boy and rooster

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Maximo and his prize roosters

~ Now before you get all judgey about the cock-fighting thing, remember that this is cultural and a source of great pride to the people of Taboga, especially the owners of the cocks. Maximo, pictured above, passes his days trimming feathers and training his birds to be champion fighters. When not working with his roosters, he rests in his hammock, transistor radio blaring Latin music. I asked him once if they fight to the death. His response? “¿Huh?” Followed by a strong, “¡No!” He loves his roosters….

But not in the same way that Don Gallo loved Laurie…

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Don Gallo strolling the neighborhood. “Yoo hoo, Laurie, where are you?”

Laurie remained steadfast in her denial of Don Gallo’s love. “It wasn’t just me!” she protested. “He terrorized the neighborhood. He was violent! He followed everyone!” Admittedly, he did. He once followed Flor, another neighbor, all the way to her front door. And it was not uncommon to see children battering Don Gallo with couch cushions when he tried to enter their homes. But please, finish the story and draw your own conclusions.

Laurie began carrying a stick to defend herself from his advances because Don Gallo, on occasion, would take liberties and peck the back of her legs. In his defense, roosters don’t have lips, so perhaps those painful jabs were, in his lovesick mind, amorous kisses.

One day, Don Gallo could no longer contain himself. As Laurie passed, rebuffing him once again, he puffed up to full height, leapt in the air and, with talons out in front as he had been taught, gouged the back of Laurie’s left calf. One might presume he was attempting to hug her but, given his anatomy and training, this was the best he could do.

Laurie screamed. “¡Afuera, Afuera!” and the neighbors came running. Upon seeing the blood running down Laurie’s leg, one neighbor insisted, “You must go to clinic.” Laurie, clearly in shock, said that she was fine and continued on to the pueblo, dabbing the back of her leg with a tissue and secretly cursing Don Gallo.

Laurie’s fondness for the people of Taboga, among whom she has lived for a dozen years, is deep and abiding. Going to or coming from her house each day, she passes through the neighborhood of closely built homes, many of which share walls. The islanders have welcomed her and she has become part of the community. But this rooster was walking a thin line in her book.

Once Laurie’s head cleared and she realized the bleeding had not let up, she decided that a visit to the doctora was not a bad idea. Roosters typically do not clean their talons before striking so it was probably not the most sanitary of wounds.

At the clinic, the doctor cleaned and bandaged the wound and gave her a tetanus shot. Little Leo’s mother, Katia, was next door to the clinic and heard what had happened (word travels quickly on a small island). When Laurie emerged from the doctor’s office, Katia was there. “I am paying for this,” she insisted despite Laurie’s protestations. “It’s Leo’s mascota (pet) and we are responsible.”

♥This is the heart part of the story. ♥

No one on Taboga is sitting on a pile of money so to offer to pay for a doctor visit is not only honorable but generous. It doesn’t matter the cost. In this case, the total bill for the consultation, cleaning, bandaging and tetanus shot was: $1.50.

Leo’s family vowed to avoid another crime of passion.  They imprisoned Don Gallo in a box where they planned to feed and fatten him up for sancocho, a Panamanian specialty soup featuring chicken. Or – in this case – rooster.

Laurie worries about Leo losing his pet. But Leo understands and will likely enjoy the sancoho along with his family. People don’t feel the same way about their pets as we do in the north. And, why waste a perfectly good rooster when they can make a meal out of him?

Even so, Laurie plans to buy Leo a pio pio – a baby chick – when Don Gallo meets his maker. Or the soup pot.

So ends the story of Laurie and Don Gallo. Roll credits and enjoy the music!

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