These are Not Reading Rooms

Written By: Jackie Weger - Jun• 09•13

San Blas Island Shower Room pottyparlorVery few of my photographs survived my life in the tiny mountain village of el Cacao. Termites ate them. I came across two that somehow managed to survive. Panama is considered a developing nation. Donald Trump just recently completed a grand edifice in the main City–but once on an island or off the Avenue of America’s, village life and island life remain primitive by our standards.  There is no infrastructure such as mail service, gas stations, newspaper delivery, air-conditioned grocery stores or sewer systems as we know it. One will find tepid to hot water only in grand hotels or wealthy homes. I don’t consider a nation developed until it can provide door-to-door mail service–or at the very least, a post office.  Outside the city in tiny villages and on islands no one has street addresses. So here are snapshots of two necessaries–one of which natives built for me on the tiny plot of jungle I rented for twenty-dollars a month, and the other on a Cuna Indian/San Blas Island that caters to tourists.  The necessary on the island was relatively safe–no snakes, no tarantulas, no scorpions. Not so with my own necessary. Its damp, cool interior was a magnet for creepy-crawlies. To use it I had a routine. Light a stick soaked in kerosene from my cook fire and while blazing, wave it beneath the ‘seat’ and all around the base and in dark corners, then wait for the scorpions and spiders and bats to scatter. I will admit to being in a hurry once and ignored the routine. I reached for the toilet paper perched on a stick and discovered a juvenile bushmaster curled atop the roll.  For two hours it watched me and I watched it. Of course, I only moved my eyes. At dusk the geckos came out and the baby snake shot out of its coil.  Truth: I thought I was dead right there, but no; the little gecko met his demise. I learned something about myself though–I can do a fifty-yard dash with my pants around my ankles.


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