Connectivity? The spark that ephemerally connects seperate entities. A conscious conjunction of body and mind, nature and nurture. I am what they call a 21st century digital boy. accustomed to using the internet, gardgets, digital and analog machines; my mind is trained to understand logical systems. More over, the papers of the day are filled with stories about breakthroughs in post-space age nano and bio technologies, high energy particle accelerators, and missions to Mars. I consider my generation to be the great-grand child of modern electrical prophets like Edison and Tesla. A generation connected to the world through the medium of electricity. The spark of electricity, the harnessing of the electron, our modern wheel, this is my generations greatest tool, as scissors are to a barber, or a hammer to a blacksmith. Yes, there are other types of connectivity, and there is a textbook, Websters 2008, 3rd edition, extended collegiate color dictionary definition for connectivity; however, I suppose I am searching for the definition commonly held by those people of generations past, before lighting struck the key that unlocked the modern world.
Today, after I ate fish soop for lunch, I gathered my things including a machete, canteen, sombrero, a che Guevara book, and a banana, and headed to the house I hope to stay in for some time, to check out the the land. I had heard there was a tree nursury and a small vegetable garden amongst a large plot of land. I began by walking down the unpaven road towards the river. I stopped at the mini-super (bare amenities store) to buy a candle so I would be able to write once the sun set. After a brief getting-to-know-you masquerade with the tienda owner, I headed onward to my destination. I strolled past the school, which was letting out for the day. A parade of giggling kids marched by happy to be free from class. So I stopped again, said some hellos, shook some hands and quized the third graders over the previous nights English homework. I asked one bravo kid, "Como se dice Rojo en Ingles?" He responded, "Red." Correct! I ask another little one, "Como se dice Azul en Ingles?" He answers, "Bluway." Blue is correct, but he pronounced it wrong. All the children pronounce blue this way because in the Spanish language, pronunciation is phonetical to the written word. In other words, the Spanish tounge follows from the Spanish eye. In the English language, there is a only a relative connection between tounge and eye. This being that both the tounge and the eye are on the same face. English speakers do not phonetically pronounce written words. Anyways, I hadn't the heart to correct the third graders for the simple reason that they can hardly read and write in their mother tounge which is phonetic and orderly. So, in this Panamanien mountain village, the English word blue is indeed correctly pronounced "Bluway."
Onward! I took the only left in town onto a dirt trail, nearing the river Sapillo, past cinder block houses filled with waving arms and restless children laughing as I fumbled with my greetings and salutations in toddlerish Spanish. Oh well, they were laughing, which is a good sign that what I was saying was both hilarious and not offensive. Onwards! A kid followed me on his bike for a while and took the left fork as I took the right.
And there I am, standing at the gates of my future house. Undoubtedly, the gate is locked. With an ease like that of a mute in a belching contest (?), I slide past the owners poor attempt to secure the property against intruders. The back of the house seems like the most workable place to see what's around. The weeds are high. No one has been here for quite some time. I decide to clean up the yard a bit, after all, it is summer-time in Georgia which means the grass a needs a cuttin'. I put down my water, book, banana and go to work cuttin' that bad grass down with the force of my machete while wearing my faithfully dim sombrero.
Out of no where, that kid who had forked left on his bicycle pokes me and says, "Your doing that wrong. Give it here, I'll show you how to do it." He proceeds to show me the "proper" technique for chopping weeds with a half-dull machete; all-the-while eating a fruit he clandestinely picked before approaching me. He knew what he was doing. He made it look easy. I went for the fruit hanging from a nearby tree thinking that the sweet enchantment from a freshly picked fruit might be the special sauce this kid used to gracefully slice the bad grass down. I took a bite. Delicious! But, didn't help to smooth my co-ordination. We took turns with the machette and cut down most of the tall stuff within a few minutes. I begin to realize during this time that I had been asking this 8yr old which is the "bad grass" and which is the sapling, vegetable, ornamental, or medicinal. We crawl along the freshley cut vegetation in search of plants I've never heard of. He tells me about different types of trees, each with its own use, fruit, flower and season. I am short-circuting at this point. We head into the cultivated forest to explore the exotic flora inside. We pick oranges, bananas, guavas, and mamons and I pick a glimpse into the mind of an eight year old who has lived his entire life without the electricity, without the means to buy expensive gadgets, with the space-of-mind filled with knowledge of nature that follows from a life of poverty in the remote Panamanian country side. ( If there is a limit to space of mind, I haven't the slightest clue.) He talked about trees, bushes, bugs, spiders, snakes, birds, soil, rain, planting, harvesting, the sun and the moon cycles. We walked for an hour talking about our surroundings while devouring our colorful fruits like candy. At this point, I felt like the 8yr old in the woods.
We finally made our way back to the house where we planted one of the saplings that was ready in the nursery. At this point, he told me in confidence, as we were planting, that his mother was ill and in the hospital. This being the case, he was the one responsible for cooking meals for his younger siblings. There is tragic irony here. The mother is ill with lung problems, probably due to cooking over an open fire, three times a day, for her entire life. Now, this boy was suffering the same fate, having to cook for his brothers and sisters while his mother was being treated in the city. What is there to do? I walked over to the small garden and picked the only vegetable growing inside, a small green pepper, which we lavashed praise over its delicate and delicious beauty. The boy left to cook dinner, pockets filled to the brim with fresh fruit and a single pepper. I gathered my things and walked back to my host house with an old man who showed up just after the boy disappeared.