Had I started a blog when we first moved to Panama, I would have called it “Livin’ Wide”. Not “Large”, not “Long”, not “Wild”. “Wide” meaning just branching out, experiencing everything, taking it all in. But, as it was, I started the blog in the Patagonia region of Chile, and the nearest town was Futaleufu, and I could not pass on that name. Futalandia it was, and is. That experience, in Patagonia, in Futaleufu, epitomizes the experience of being an adventurer in the sense that you don’t know what is waiting for you. Not at the next corner, the next day or the next moment.
Futalandia is the state of vertigo mixed with pleasure and dread. I learned living “wide” in Patagonia, yet I realize now that kindergarten started in Panama. It just wasn’t as harsh here. There were not stinging slaps on the wrists, no time-outs, no notes home to parents. Panama is more kind, a little more forgiving. The bitter winters don’t rush down and crush you; you have a chance to make mistakes.
In Patagonia, a mistake could mean serious consequences…your limbs, a digit, your life, or more importantly, your self-respect. I know. Patagonia humiliated me, but...I love her still. So I wonder why…why do I miss it? Panama has beauty so stunning it’s mind-boggling. The country people are incredible in their resourcefulness and graciousness. Sticks turn into trees and birds the colors of balloons swoop over the starkest towns and pueblos. It’s a lovely place, and I LOVE it dearly.
I think the reason I miss Patagonia is the people. Against all odds, with the most harsh and beautiful landscapes on earth, they thrive with gusto. I think that when you feel most vulnerable, you also feel most alive. And I felt vulnerable in Patagonia. In Panama I feel comfortable. Content. It’s easy here.
Someone once asked me to write about why we chose Chile once over Panama. I was offered a few bottles of fine Chilean wine…nothing to pass over lightly with the nearest town hours away. But, I said, I can’t. We didn’t choose Chile over Panama. It's Apples and Oranges.
And it makes a great fruit salad.