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This is Ángel; he takes care of the land my family owns. If you traverse your way to Central America, into Panamá, and find your way to the Province of Herrera and the district of Las Minas, you will find Ángel. Our almost nine-acre plot of land is but one of the many properties he takes care of. I had the recent opportunity to visit my land in the summer of 2018. A truly humbling area of Panamá, there is no internet connection on site, everything you consume is from the land that surrounds you, and there is no better therapy than being in the midst of nature.
Ángel knows the land better than I know the back of the palm of my hand. Everywhere he went, I followed, as he pointed out the varieties of plants that surrounded us. He found cilantro in the middle of a hike back as if it called out to him. That afternoon, we seasoned the chicken with that same cilantro as his wife ground up corn we went out to grab from his backyard.
I recorded a few short conversations with Ángel. I would like to share these with you; a depiction of what it is to live here. You will read our true conversation in Spanish that I also translated to English below.
A: Entonces el café le gusta crecer debajo de los árboles. No es de mucho sol?
Ángel: Muy poco sol.
A: Y los bichos se comen el café?
Ángel: Las paisanas.
A: Eso que es?
Ángel: Se parece una gallina, ellas estan por aqui. Así cuando están maduros, están rojas la pepa y se la comen.
A: No hay nada para echarle para que no se la coman?
Ángel: Hay que aggarla para comersela una. Estan buena, es como una gallina fina.
A: Porque fina?
Ángel: Porque están delgadita. Están “light.” No tiene colesterol dicen.
A: Coffee likes to be grown beneath the trees? It does not like much sun?
Angel: Very little sun.
A: The bugs or pests, will they eat the coffee?
Angel: Las paisanas.
A: What is that?
Angel: They look like hens or chickens, they’re around. When they are ripe (coffee), the seeds are red and they eat them
A: Is there anything to put on the coffee so they don’t eat them?
Angel: We have to grab them to eat them ourselves. They’re good, like a fine chicken.
A: Why fine?
Angel: They’re thin. They’re “light.” We’re told they don’t have
A: Y tus padres por donde andan?
Ángel: Mi mamá murió pero mi papa vive en Pesé.
A: Ud. como vino a vivir aqui?
Ángel: Mi papa vivia un poquito más lejos, yo compre lote aca.
A: Y tu papá hizo lo que ud. hace?
Ángel: Si y el se fue, por motivo de trabajo, el se fue para Pesé.
A: Pero tu has hecho esto todo tu vida?
Ángel: Si, si. Me vine para aca, para Chepo. Me fui para Panamá un rato para trabajar, pero no me gusto. Eso hace como veinte años pero yo tengo 45. Cuando inauguraron los pueblos, yo trabaje alli. En esos tiempos robaban, pero no mataban. Ahora no, ahora matan primero para ver qué es lo que uno tiene. Es una mejor vida aqui.
A: Your parents, where are they?
Angel: My mom died but my father lives in Pesé.
A: How did you get to living here?
Angel: My dad lived a bit further, I bought land here.
A: Your dad did what you do?
Angel: Yes. He had left due to work, to Pesé.
A: But you’ve done this all your life?
Angel: Yes, yes. I came here, to Chepo. I went to Panama a bit to work but I did not like it. That was about twenty years ago but I am 45 now. When they inaugurated the towns, I worked there. In those times they robbed you, they did not kill. Now, they kill first to see what you have. It is a better life here.