January 19th, 2016
This is the first morning we are waking up in Panama City. Aviv and I are together on a blow-up bed, in one of the bedrooms in Natalia's new apartment-home overlooking Marina Del Rey.
The apartment is still in remodeling and construction mode. It doesn't have too much installed quite yet—stove, dishwasher, and laundry units don't exist. How's that for minimalism? :)
The windows in the apartment are glass blinds that open to the outside air, controlled with a spinning latch that you turn manually at the bottom; windows that Natalia calls 80's Miami blinds left over from years ago. She's passionate about reinstalling modernity into the place—especially where the windows are concerned. It's ironic, slightly, that we've deconstructed our home and our lives, while my best friend is now constructing her's..
But I like their character—these windows. From what we've seen, they exist in most of the long-existing homes and apartment buildings in Panama City.
They have a slight tint in the glass to dampen the sunlight—still though, it's not enough to keep our bedroom dark in the morning. After 6 hours of sleep, I am awake—the only one out of the 6 friends staying here to wake up and witness this apartment and this view at 7am. I wouldn't exchange this early hour for anything! It's my style.
The birds chirp us awake too—with very loud, very rhythmical and tropical songs that I haven't heard before. They are many—and so far I feel as though this part of the city is just that—populated mostly by birds instead of people. It's true that this is the urban part of Panama, but it doesn't have the vibe and the movement of people—at least in Marina Del Rey. Clearly, it takes days to pull New York City out of us. And I need to remember that Aviv and I don't live in a normal urban setting. We live in the urban setting...
Spinning the latch on the Miami windows in the kitchen, the wind enters through the open glass blinds. In the past couple days in this country, I have become more aware of the wind. Suddenly, I see it as this force that shifts over the Earth. And in this part of the world it's fresh—and it wants to engage with you; as if to say, "breathe me in! stand up and dance with me!" It's that Latin American magical realism feeling. Turns out it truly does exist beyond One Hundred Years of Solitude.
And that wind followed us to El Valle from Playa Chumico; or perhaps it's more correct to say we chased it down to its origin—in El Valle where the mountains touch the sky as the valley deepens and dips. The wind finds pockets of Earth to settle in—and we found the largest one yesterday at Rodrigo + Regina's mountain home. In fact, the wind was such a force that it was clear the home—the area—belonged to it. So strong and windy, at first, because we made a surprise visit...and then it warmed up to us as the sun started setting. Oh, and at the market, next to these little peppers. The wind warmed up to us there too.
I'm finding that there's so much more to discover in this country. Old friends and new friends, we knew, would be there to welcome us—but the nature + landscape: the wind, the birds, this valley and that beach—there is something about the way it mixes with the people—or rather, how the people interact with it and make it a part of their lives. It's as if these natural elements are characters to them—alive and breathing—rather than simply pieces of the landscape. And I'm not quite sure how to describe that feeling, except that it gives you the sensation of deep connection between the people and their land in this very fantastical way...
Furthermore, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this feeling is also lovingly supported by endless refills of Aperol-Spritz—"drink of the Roman Gods!", as Regina put it. Plus, freshly pressed and fried plantains, chorizo, and cheese at almost every house visit we make. Clearly, the senses are alive and stimulated wherever we go, for lack of better words.
The story continues in Panama City, come Part Three!