Refugees in the Darien

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I haven’t been on here much lately. It seems I’m always busy but not with things worth writing about. We’ve been going out more to hear and support our musician friends. There always seems to be some errand or thing we have to do. The band keeps us busy and there are the routine chores at home. We’ve been walking most evenings at dusk when it’s cooler and very pleasant out. We’ve been meeting more of our neighbors who are also enjoying the pleasant time of day, and the dog is loving the walks. But, I did run across this interesting thing to talk about…

Refugees have been in the news for a very long time. They risk everything, even their lives, to get to the USA. They manage to get to south America and then make their way north. The hardest part of their journey is the Darien Jungle between Colombia and Panama. It has mountains to climb, mud to slog through, and rivers to cross. There are animals, snakes, insects, and people waiting to rob, rape, and harm. Refugees don’t come prepared with the right shoes, clothes, supplies, and don’t realize what lies ahead. Many of them die in the jungle and the living get to walk past their bodies lying in the mud.

A while back a worried father posted to one of the expat Facebook groups. His son wanted to document the experience of the refugees in the Darien so he joined them in their travels. The son hadn’t been heard from in too long and the dad was very worried. The son was finally located in a refugee camp and being fortunate enough to hold a USA passport, they were able to get him out and moved to Panama City. The son was so moved by what he saw that he gathered supplies and help so he could go back to the refugees. They didn’t have the most basic of supplies and most of them were sick because there was no clean water, and there was no medicine or medical care.

He wrote a book about his experience, and it was definitely something to read! He’s lucky to have made it through, though he was robbed of everything he had and spent frustrating time in a refugee camp before he finally made it out. Later he went to Haiti. He figured if so many were leaving Haiti out of desperation, maybe he could help so people could make it in their own country. Good idea, but the reality… not so good.

There was an article in our media here about the refugee situation. They arrive in eastern Panama after their horrendous journey, and then what is Panama supposed to do? And to further complicate things, people in the drug trade and terrorists can hide themselves among the refugees. From what I understand, Panama has been bussing the refugees to the Costa Rican border, rather than turn them back or let them make their own way through the country. From there, they have many more borders to cross before they reach the USA and a very uncertain future.,

I have no opinion on the refugee situation. There are valid points and concerns on both sides. But, I really feel for the people who are in such desperate circumstances that they see this treacherous journey as a better alternative to their current situation. What would one of us do if we were in their shoes? I’m very thankful that this is a decision I don’t have to make.

In other news, it’s summer here which means it’s hot, sunny, dry, and often very windy. We haven’t seen rain in quite a while and you want to avoid going out in the hot afternoons. Nights are usually cooler and beautiful.

We had a surge in the virus along with most of the rest of the world, but the numbers are falling now to much better levels. Except for mask wearing everywhere life feels quite normal and everything is open and busy. The teachers are back to work preparing for in person school which is starting in a couple weeks. Vaccinations continue to be ongoing, and below is a picture of nurses going door-to-door in Boquete.

We’ve been through many summers now but we’re still enjoying the spectacular flowers of this season. Mangoes are also flowering so fruit will be coming. I prefer the rain but anytime is good in Panama and we are happy to be here.

Thank you to all of you who read my blog, and it’s been great meeting a couple of you in person recently. As always, take care of yourselves and each other!

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