One month has passed here in Chefchaouen.
I remember when a month felt like a long time.
You would not believe how quickly time elapses on the road.
If you are a traveler, perhaps you know.
My sister and I have been planning a trip together for years.
It has always been a trip through Africa. She loves Africa — has lived there for three years, and studied there for half of one.
When I tell her that Africa is too large to call by one name, she reminds me that she knows more of the continent than I do. And, she adds — the immensity is reason enough to keep returning.
After four years of this back-and-forth, one or the other of us backing out, we are here. We landed on the Northern tip of the continent — Tangier, Morocco.
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
—Paul Simon, “Graceland”
I had a woman in Medellin. Or maybe she had me.
That’s ok. That’s how things go when you’re on the road. Backpacker hostels: young, vibrant, full of energy and alcohol and interesting new people. It’s almost bound to happen — if you’re the type of person to go in for that sort of stuff. Or even if you’re not.
After all, you can be anyone on the road.
Except if you’re actively publishing a memoir of emotional devastation.
The American West.
And one of my favorite places in the world.
I don’t know how to slaughter an animal. I don’t know which plants are edible and which will kill me. I don’t know much about gardening. Heck, I’m a barely competent chef. I eat out more than I’d like to admit.
Growing up as a kid in the suburban U.S., if I wanted something, the solution was always to buy it. If we wanted food, we bought it. If we wanted furniture, we bought it. If we needed a service provided — oil changed in our cars, say — we bought it. And usually, whatever it was, we threw it away soon after. I knew no other way of life.
That is not how they’re living here at Habla Ya Spanish School in Panama.
Panama is blessed with an incredibly lush climate, where things grow like mad. The seas teem with life, trees practically sprout out of the asphalt, and rain falls frequently. Here, the climate is basically perfect for sustainability. And yet, still, many multinational corporations have done quite well in convincing people here that they need to buy things.
But here in Bocas Del Toro, Habla Ya Spanish School is pushing back on that idea, bit by bit. Check out some of the cool sustainability and community building efforts they’ve got under way here in this tropical paradise: