Paul's Mission Statement For
Panamá...An Eco-Experiment AND Personal Commitment To The Greening Of A Beleagered Mother
When I look at myself critically, and quite
objectively, I always see the colour GREEN. I am alternatively classified by those
who know me as "Paul, The Wise Gardener!" and "Paul, The Palm
Doctor!" It appears obvious that somehow I feel safer as well as happier, when
I gravitate to my very personal green, living and natural world. Certainly, like any
other supposedly civilised human being, I can be temporarily awed, or at least influenced
by the many manmade "wonders" of the New Millenium, like
office buildings, racy, sleek and overly computerised automobiles, Japanese consumer
electronics (AKA adult "toys"), modern U.S. expressways & shopping malls
(except, perhaps, when they are overcrowded with hoards of fellow humans), and so
on...But, these accoutrements of modern living, in the end, leave me consistently a
bit vacuously unsatiated. A pattern here? Hmmm.
On the other hand, after experiencing the lushness of a
verdant palm frond, a neon-coloured bromeliad blooming high up in a Honduran mahogany
tree, or the obviously blatant "tropicalness" of a breadfruit tree replete with
"greenish-yellow cannonball-like fruits", I seem to get consistently
"carried away" to some sort of botanical nirvana! My partner, Brad, says
that if I am one thing, it is consistent. It just seems that "one cannot
go wrong" allowing oneself to be enraptured by nature. Why? Because
throughout all of the Millennia that our species has trod upon the earth (often
irresponsibly, I have to say), Nature & GREEN have always provided an ageless source
of comfort...and sustenance!!
Now, as we "urban" ourselves to death
it seems, greenery is even MORE of a safety zone. And that is how my quest for an
ultimate haven and an ultimate purpose for my short life found its ULTIMATE GOAL!
With the immeasurable assistance of the world's library: the internet, I was able to
explore a world that was far greener and far more natural than my home in that ULTIMATELY
URBAN playland that is South Florida!
After years of searching, Panamá stood out as
a beacon to me. It is tropically lush, it is relatively close, geographically; it
is, outside of Panama City, pristine, and oh yes, still affordable! Impressive too,
is the fact that Panamá proudly embraces its rich native culture. Indeed, Kuna,
Guaymi, Ngobe, and numerous other native Panameños are officially represented in
the government, and prime lands are governed by the native peoples, themselves!
That is certainly very different from the way our American Bureau of Indian Affairs
"administers" the U.S. native tribes' collective needs. So, In Panamá I
was surprised, yet pleased, to discover a progressive civil libertarian society that
champions its rich and diverse cultural fabric as opposed to those societies which do not
honour their native peoples.
I bought a plane ticket in 2002, and explored
the region called Bocas del Toro...and profoundly, "fell in love!" There,
I found many "Gringos" also looking
for an elusive piece of paradise, but the
majority seemed to be looking for the paradise that meant sipping piña coladas on the
beach, or seeing Bocas, as the tourists call the entire region, as a place where they
could still make a "killing" in the real estate market. These avant garde
Bocas visionaries probably will make money, and I suppose, that there is nothing
wrong with that particular mentality, but that ideology is really just for looking to
extend a bit of the U.S., Canada, or Europe "lifestyle" to a wild and relatively
untamed land. I thought, "OK", let them look towards the
BEACH...I'm going inland. By the way, I was told by an ex-pat realtor from Texas,
that I was making a major mistake...no ex-pats lived where I was looking, and that
the native Panameños wouldn't "take" to a gringo going into their
turf! I went anyway!
I didn't need the support of an ex-pat bar or boutique,
being the particularly difficult, independent, & loner-ish bastard, that I
am! No, I wanted, remember...natural GREEN! I found it here and it fits me
like the cliched glove! After several exploratory trips (which confirmed my resolve
to stay away from my fellow ex-patriated avaricious Americans), Brad & I finally, in
November, 2002 met up with a very sweet gentleman who worked in a fruit box corrugation
plant (for 37 years), named Filiberto Reid! He was gracious, gentle, proud of his
heritage (a bi-lingual West Indian), and very much "in-tune" to our
personalities! He showed us his lovely 56 hectare "finca" off the new
Carreterra Inter-Americano. We explored it, the three of us; bonded readily, and
carved a portion out for Brad & me. The land we toured was hilly, verdant, had a
magnificent unspoiled view to the Caribbean...and it fitted my mind's "vision"
as a place to tend for the rest of my earth years, in all ways botanical. I was in
the GREEN, finally.
When we returned back to Miami (which is always
a culture shock, in itself) I now, began to think of this land's name. The 9.5
hectares (or approximately 25 acres) that we purchased from Filiberto would be
named: TropicRiverWoods! How easy that choice was for me! Our finca was true
to all of those three words...the dreamed about "seed" was finally
planted! Now, TropicRiverWoods can, indeed, take root, dear friends! Yes, I am
surrounded by GREEN...and I am contented. There's a lot of work to be done;
"and miles to go before I sleep!" We must plan the tree planting
carefully; we must begin the realisation of our "green sustainable home" concept
with a delicately situated elevated treetop pole foundation which will serve as our
"nest" & a future vistors' centre!