Lebanon Reporter

April 5, 2010

Spending Easter in Panama

By Ginger Truitt
Reporter columnist

Lebanon — Whenever a significant event occurs in a person’s life it is not unusual for the feelings surrounding the event to return with the season. For example, my mother died 12 years ago on Good Friday. The feel of spring in the air takes me back to that week and its emotion. The kids and I were picking flowers when my dad called to say he was at the hospital with mom. The flowers became a bouquet by her bedside, and were probably discarded a few hours later when they transferred her to ICU. 

After mom died, I went to her house to gather some photos for the funeral. She had six dozen eggs in the refrigerator, ready to color with the grandkids. Yes, the past 12 Easters have been somewhat bittersweet. 

I always wish my mom could see my children dressed in their Easter finery. We’ve added two to our family, and she has never seen the way their faces light up when we present the Easter baskets. I’d love to go to her house after church and feast on ham and scalloped potatoes, followed by a bunny shaped cake covered in coconut. I miss those days. 

But on this Easter Sunday, things are different. I don’t smell spring in the air because I’m in the country of Panama, sitting on a balcony overlooking the Canal. Today it will be 91 degrees, but for now the hour is early and there’s a chilly breeze coming off the water. Massive ships are passing nearly within reach, and exotic birds are singing songs I’ve never before heard. As I sit here reading the Bible account of Jesus’ crucifixion, my surroundings make me aware of the story in a new way. My prayers of gratitude are unable to truly capture what is in my heart this morning.  

Hubby’s business has once again taken us to a new location, and we are privileged to see sights that previously I’ve only read about in history books. Prior to this trip, my knowledge of Panama was limited. I knew the canal was important, and I could recall the name Manuel Noriega, but mostly I just remembered that my aunt said she would like to retire here. 

Thankfully, on the 30 minute trip from the airport to the hotel, our taxi driver filled us in on all sorts of fascinating and unusual facts about his beloved country. He pointed out the 500-year-old ruins that were the original city. That is where a terrible pirate named Francis Drake landed and stripped the country of its gold and all of its beautiful women. He took the loot and the booty back to England with him where he is a hero to this day. “You have to do terrible things if you want anyone to remember you,” our taxi driver told us in his Panamanian accent. “If you are a good man, no one will remember your name.” 

I never knew the country of Panama despises Sir Frances Drake. According to our driver, the main reason they hate him is for taking the women. “The only reason there are any beautiful women in England, is because they are actually from Panama!” 

I’m guessing he has never actually been to England. After 500 years the beautiful Panamanian bloodline has pretty much thinned itself out to nothing. 

He seemed thankful for the U.S., noting the number of things we have done for his country. I have never in my life been so glad not to have a British accent! 

I was surprised to see a Hard Rock Café. The other Central American countries we’ve been to are not nearly this developed. The skyscrapers are astounding and numerous. Panama is building them at a faster rate than any other country in the world.  

I have one disclaimer: My facts came from a taxi driver whose first language is not the same as mine. I have not been here long enough to verify his stories, and while I have little reason to doubt him, don’t go writing a school report based on what I’ve shared!

I’m glad I’m spending Easter in Panama. It reminds me that there is a man whose name is remembered for good and not evil.     

Click here to email  ginger@gingertruitt.com or visit http://www.gingertruitt.com.