...future buckaroo's...Piñas Bay, Panama.
Nothing quite beats an adventure in a remote part of the world. How I encountered this endearing duo is a bit of a story.
I took a week off from a brutal schedule and headed to a remote region of Panama for a few days of fishing. The environment is gorgeous, but…a little untamed. You can only get there via small plane fly or boat. No roads. Think about the cultures that develop with that level of isolation.
After a few days of big game fishing, I decided to try in-shore fishing. In-shore is fishing closer to land where the type of fish and fishing is completely different. Our boat was a couple hundred yards off-shore, about 1-mile north of the Columbian border.
Caught some huge Cubera Snapper and Amberjack, as well as few others. It was hot, muscles were beat and the water was inviting. It was time for a quick dip to cool off.
We pulled the lines and headed into a small inlet cut into the jungle of the Darien Gap. Deep inside, there was a small village spread across the beach and about 100 yards deep into jungle.
Immediately upon spotting the boat, those two lads paddled vigorously to greet us.
Look closely…this is the real deal. A canoe hollowed out from a tree trunk. For this dynamic duo, it was the same as having a bike.
I have found one thing as a common truth in all my travels…kids are kids are kids…no matter whether they are mountainside on Kilimanjaro, the night markets in Beijing, around the corner from you, or there in this terribly remote village on the Pacific.
They just wanted a warm smile and a little love…and some chocolate. (that’s also a universal truth about kids)
You get a real sense of the remoteness of this village, and truthfully, what is a hard life living off the water and whatever the land can provide.
What’s missing from the photos and what we were not allowed to photograph was a military operation just to the left side of these shots.
There were huge sand bunkers, machine guns and about a dozen tough Panamanian special forces on patrol, as well as a couple of high speed, rigged out boats. This peaceful village was also a remote post to combat drug smugglers coming across the border from Columbia.
This brought it all to a sobering moment.
These young boys, just happy to have a visitor and being playful, are growing up in the midst of the harder battle against drug runners.
Got me wondering what happens when the Special Forces actually engage?
I did swim ashore to take a closer peek and visit for a few minutes.
The village was as basic as they come. Spotted little electricity, laundry was done by hand in the stream that feeds the inlet and hung to dry between trees, huts and bungalows were simply constructed and a small chapel tucked into a corner.
Quite frankly, I’d love to say there was a quiet happiness or joy. In this instance, I got a real sense of tension in the village…a certain eerie quiet. Maybe that comes with living near a commando base. Decided to cut the visit short and swim back to the boat.
By that time, the boy’s papa was on his way… although he was looking for fish, not chocolate.
As you would do also, we gave papa most of the fish and the boys what cookies we had on-board, as well as shared the sandwiches.
This experience was both heart-warming and unsettling. Maybe in the speed of life we take for granted basics that so many across the world don’t have.
There was a deep gratefulness on living here in our great nation…and our collective responsibility to take on a “give-back” to make it just a little better.
Let’s challenge ourselves to take on one activity to make each day just a little better for someone or for the community we live. Sometimes it’s the smallest of gestures that have the largest impact.