The Jungle Journal

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The Harsh Price of Connection in a Rural Community

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Sometimes things are encouraging, sometimes they are sad. Recently we have lost a lot of people in our town. We moved to Almirante, a small poor village. We wanted to really live among the locals. I wanted to be their neighbor and really get to know them.

Now we have Noile who lives across the way. She is in her 60's and speaks Creole English and Spanish. She brings me limes from her garden and I give her star apples from mine.

The kids come and play American football in the yard and they say "Hi!" in English to us when they ride by on their bicycles.They are excited to try out a new language.

We started putting in a garden and some of the boys came and helped up pick stones out of the dirt.

But a couple of weeks ago one of the little boys died. He went into the hospital with a headache and they said he died from complications with his liver.

And then the man we rent our little house from died.

And the man who lived next door died too,

And so did the man just around the corner.

And then two days ago the grandmother of a young man who works for us and has become our friend passed away. She was everything to her grandson. Its like that in this culture. Often the mother is young when the children are born, or sometimes there are so many children she needs a lot of help. In either case, the grandmother becomes an important part of the child-rearing. They are like a mother to the children and are often much younger than grandmothers in the US tend to be.

So Yamar's grandmother died and Lee attended the funeral today. He saw Yamar shaking in the corner and asked what was up.

Yamar explained.

That morning he went to the place where his grandmother's body was kept cold. He and his two cousins took her stiff body out of the freezer drawer and bathed her. They dressed her to make her look nice and put her in a coffin and then brought it to the church.

I was so shocked and tried to imagine how he must have felt.

And then I remembered the little 10 year old boy who was playing happily in our yard a couple of weeks ago. Who washed his body? His mother? His father? Who dressed him neatly and put him in a coffin?

Oh, we are so spoiled in America. We do not understand what it is to be connected to life. And to death. Now I understand why all the children understood about Ubaldino, the orphan boy we lost a little over a month ago.

This is a small community. There are less than 10,000 souls. How is it that I know so many personally that have gone on to the next realm just this month?

Love can be devastating.... But I still choose to live it.

Being real


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#poverty #Almirante #BocasdelToro #indigenouspeople #death #Panama

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