Saturday, November 21, 2015
The Camino to Yaviza
Packing up and getting ready to leave this Catrigandi home, packing up all of our things. Once we leave here we will not come back, the house needs to be cleaned up, whatever stays needs to be wrapped or stored away, the floors need to be swept, the beds taken up and whatever needs to be taken packed once again into the Prado as well as Alan’s vehicle. One last look around, taking in this bit of peace…we are on the move.
We take the lower river road out, the road that is sometimes a river and the river that is sometimes a road. We are on our way to Yaviza…but first we stop for breakfast in Torti, an oasis of sorts, nestled on the edge of the highway, a restaurant, hotel, retreat, beauty…café with leche and Wi-Fi connection.
On the road again; the Camino, our journey to the end of the road…Yaviza.
Along the way, we are passing Palm trees, Banyan trees, sometimes we are driving close under their canopies other times alongside the bamboo grasses. Here and there in the midst of the jungle are Teak farms…Alan explains that there is total silence in the teak groves, nothing grows under them and nothing lives in them; only silence. The highway is dotted with huts and homes, all yellow and green and pink built on stilts, roofs of tin, thatched, almost always topped with an orange satellite dish, bookended with rolling hills and covered by a blue sky edged with billowy white clouds.
We are entering the Darien, passing through the first checkpoint, the Senafront, police checking passports and clearing us through. This highway is expected to take us five to six hours to drive, not because of its length but because of its condition; potholes, damaged asphalt, in some places carved out patches, although Alan and Colleen are surprised at the improvements.
After a stop in Metiti for fruit and vegetables and several more Senafront checkpoints we arrive at the camp in Yaviza…our next home. It is hot, Hot, humid and sticky…we are dripping, wet, happy.
The camp is a grouping of three long cement buildings; one housing the people who work here; one the kitchen and multipurpose room for kids club and discipleship programs; one the dorm we would be calling home, five sets of bunkbeds, side by side all along the length of the one wall, electicity, fans, bathrooms and showers. There is also a separate common building; wooden floor, open fire pit for cooking, a sink for washing, a table with benches and chairs, a hammock and a feeling of community, a meeting place…all covered by a thatched roof. Up on the hill, the home of Einer and Girlesa, the managers of this camp; in the 1960s this building began as a tuberculosis clinic, looking like a Spanish villa, now stands guard over this camp of God’s workers.
Dinner is going to be taken in a restaurant, in the heart of Yaviza; surprising as we drive in... a port town, with a feeling of New Orleans, colorful, bars, music blaring, cafes; people walking the streets, cat calling, laughing, talking, holding hands, wearing colorful clothing, Latinos but mostly Blacks; it is Saturday night and people are out. Alan shared a bit of the history with us, how the Blacks found a hiding place in Yaviza, freed from slavery making settlements here and along the river and edges of the Darien.
Beauty in the jumble of it all.
Amongst all the people were the dogs, thin and sad but owned, hovering around the edges waiting for a handout perhaps…Kalea was deeply touched and she performed a dance for them, to give them something lovely, something beautiful in their seemingly sad lives…sweet, funny, compassion beyond age.
The day nearly to an end, we met with the leaders of the National Church of Panama; Americo, Ricardo and Obdulio, Einer and Alan, orienting us to the Indigenous people we would be traveling upriver to visit…sharing words of expectation, prayers, blessings and confirmations of our coming to this place…Gods place…Gods call.
I love that.