Monday, January 9, 2012
the beach and some rambling thoughts on the day
On Sunday we went to the beach. It was hot and sunny and perfect. The beach was predictably busy for a summer long weekend. And traffic out of the city on Sunday morning was unpleasant and slow. But despite traffic, and crowds (and searching for parking in our usually quiet spot) it was lovely and relaxing the way the ocean always is. Toes buried in hot sand, watching my husband and kids goof around in the water is is pretty much the most soothing activity I can imagine. I didn't even read, I was mostly just still, half watching and half sleeping. It was hard to leave such perfect, drowsy, contentment and we dragged our feet (and the cooler) back up to the car.
The traffic was predictably bad on the way home. Thankfully we didn't see any accidents and it was slow but steady. We listened to the radio, to a program about January 9th. January 9th is Día de los Mártires (Martyrs' Day) in Panama. It commemorates the 1964 riot. Until I heard this radio program, I hadn't actually known it was a riot. I knew there had been an incident with the Panamanian flag in the Canal Zone and some students had been killed, but I'd never heard the details before. It was shocking frankly and it made for a very thoughtful ride home (here's a god summary of the events).
So while it was a slow drive home it was informative. It's certainly not the first time I contemplated Panama before 1999 (when the canal was reverted to Panama). But the image of students climbing a wall to plant their flag, and the chilly arrogance of the Americans in the Canal Zone (and yes I am aware that institutional racism and segregation were status quo in 1964) was compelling. I would love to see this story told from a few angles; including: the presidents (Chiari and Johnson), the diplomats and the American students and their families. Oh, and the military... Is there a movie? I don't think so. There should be a movie.
It would be interesting to see the American Colonial period in Latin America depicted in film. I used to think about this when we lived in Costa Rica. The dilapidated luxury of the Zona Americana (the former enclave of the United Fruit Company) in Quepos used to fascinate me (the country club splendor of the old tennis courts and swimming pool seemed so at odds with the grubby town at the foot of that hill). Has anyone made a film about this, or set a novel in a "zona Americana" of the 1950s and early 60s? I know that there are so many stories that don't get told but this seems like a gaping hole.