Monday, 25 April 2022


Yesterday, after the 9 AM Mass, I decided that I should take a walk. My regular path is right across the street from the church so I joined the route there and walked down to the Bay of Panama. It’s not a long walk to the bay, but as in all walks, if you pay attention to details, you will see and feel a lot.

Coffee shops were open along the tree-lined boulevard and, as on Sunday and holiday mornings, traffic was light. This is always nice because in Panama traffic usually includes lots of honking. The quietness can give you feeling of being in a park rather than in a city of 1.5 million people. The first part of my walk then is quite peaceful, which encourages a slower pace than my normal rush.

Traffic picks up as I approach the major thoroughfares that flow along the sea. There are lots of massive hotels and residential high-rises along the waterfront. These are all lined by Balboa Avenue, the ‘Park Avenue’ of Panama City.

My walk brings me to Urracá Park (above photo). From this photo, you can see that the park has lots of activity spaces, especially dog walking. You can also see Balboa Avenue, the street under the curly foot bridge. This is the crossover walkway that I use to get across Balboa to arrive at another activity area and yet another footbridge that crosses the southside coastal freeway. From the bridge’s end, I am right at the bay. What is pleasant about all this is that on Sundays from 6 AM to noon the coastal beltway is closed so there is peace and quiet and a safety zone for people to walk, ride bikes, rollerblade, etc.

You can easily hear the difference between normal weekday traffic and the quiet no-car southside freeway. This photo doesn’t show it, but just imagine as closed to auto traffic the left lanes closest to the bay. Parking lots become safe ranges for kids to practice their bicycle skills, as seen below.

Once I’m at the walkway by the bayfront, I usually find a bench in the shade and people and dog watch. There are so many varieties of dogs and being a dog-person, I love to see them lazily walk by me or scamper by on the grass. One little Jack Russell yesterday was off his leash and took the opportunity to greet his fellow canines. I am positive that leashes are required, but there is always someone who thinks that his or her dog is perfect and won’t bother anybody.

It is along such a path that I came across a little boy investigating a wall of bright orange flowers. They all looked alike, but he was looking for just the right tiny flower. His mother and a friend looked on while the boy made his choice. As soon as he plucked the petals, the first thing he did was to run and give them to his mother. It was a great moment of pure humanity. The friend turned toward me and smiled as if to say, “You know what this is all about.” We were all smiles.

Yes, I did know what was happening and what a delight it was to see the child give the perfect gift to his mother. I had done that myself some 63 years earlier when my mother gratefully received dandelions and lilacs and forsythia from me and from each of her eight children as they grew. In the end when we were all grown and out of the house, it was my father who took up the duty and gave a rose to my mother every day.

Do you see what I would have missed had I not taken that walk?

Published by Thomas

Retired from active priestly ministry in the Catholic Church; former Benedictine monk; francophile; Holocaust researcher; Delta One Million Miler; Ex-Patriated American to the Republic of Panama

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