This morning I had to go up town to pick up my new ID. As we drove into the heart of the city where the public offices are, I was reminded of my first impression of Panama and the infatuation I felt. Before my husband took his job here, my daughters and I came with him to check it out while he went to some meetings. We explored the city, hopping in and out of taxis, going from park, to movie theatre, to bookstore. We had a great time. I was delighted with Panama, but it wasn't the city that captivated me, it was the people.
It was the Panamanian accent, and the 'tu' instead of 'usted.' From easygoing and quick-to-laugh taxi drivers, to the friendly kids in the park, I fell in love. And I still love this place and the people. This morning, after some banter with a civil servant and then the joking between the guy watching the parked cars and the guy with photocopy business in the back of his van, I thought, I still have a big crush on these people. Then of course we turned on the radio to hear to a couple of pundits talking about the latest political scandal. And there's the rub.
I love this country but I am alarmed and dismayed by its politics. Corruption is taken for granted and there is no evidence that anyone in public office has any real concern for the people of this country. When I got home the first article I read was this. How can I conscionably live in a place that treats its children so badly? It's like being in love with someone who's beautiful and fun but totally destructive. You know, one of those people who has to hit rock bottom before they can get their life together. I hope, for the sake of the people of this country, that there is no rock bottom in Panama's near future. I hope, but I wish I felt more optimistic.