BootsnAll Travel Network

Ah, The Sound of Silence!

Trying to find a quiet place in the middle of the wilds of Panama is more difficult than you might think. Sometimes, I spend many days in a row, aching to be alone, even if just for an hour or two.

The Ngobe do not like to be alone. In fact, when a person is alone, they think that there is something the matter with them. Being alone-without loads of children, babies, and family members in close proximity-would be the worst thing a Ngobe person could imagine.

As my friend, Orsonia, told me, ¨If I was alone-without my children and their children-I would feel so sad, that I would not want to live.¨

Wow. Pretty drastic difference from my culture, where we are absolutely consumed with having ¨alone time¨, privacy, and ¨personal space¨. I find myself looking at these concepts completely differently since being here. I find myself wondering why all these things are so important to me and to my culture. And, although I miss privacy and being alone upon occassion, what I really miss the most is silence.

In a community where everyone lives 10 to 20 feet from one another, and much of life takes place outside(since the homes are so tiny), it is rare not to hear all the goings on of your neighbors-and, at all times of the day and the night. You hear everything from the radio blasting the local Bahai´evangelical music (the Bahai´own the only radio station here), to domestic violence to a pig getting butchered.

 Additionally, here it is the custom for people to live all together in one family compound-or even-in one house. When you have 10 to 15 people all sleeping in a house that 12×12 feet at most, it´s never quiet.

In my house, I do have my own room. But that is where the concept of privacy and silence end. Often, people come in and out of the room, sometimes without warning. The radio blasts much of the day-and into the night. People stay up talking just outside my curtained partition untilo late into the night-and then awake very early, talking loudly and playing the radio-sometimes as early as 4 am!

Also, being one of a small handful of gringos here, I am always being watched with great interest. When I go for a swim, people watch me from the rocks, as they wash their clothes. When I make dinner, people peer into the pot, and watch me handle the knife. When I walk down the road, people stare, point, and talk about me as I walk past. Everything I do is of interest-and when I make a point of trying to be alone while doing them-well, this is seen as me being unhappy. In Ngobe culture, if I am unhappy, the solution is that I need to spend time with people! It´s kind of a vicious cycle-If I want solitude, I must really struggle for it. Then when I get it, and am enjoying it, it comes to a quick end, when I find out my family thinks I am unhappy with them. Then I have to go be with the group, or it will be interpreted as a slight.

Still, whether it´s because of my culture or my personality, I yearn for time alone-silent time alone, without the constant drone of radios and children crying, people talking, dogs barking, and so on.

I finally found the perfect place to accomplish this-the local Catholic chapel. I visited the catholic priest and nun who live near it several weeks ago, and discovered a pretty liitle chapel on the property. It´s usually locked, but for me, they leave it unlocked. I have taken to visiting it every morning. It´s painted bright turquoise and has little decor. It´s a calming, peaceful place, and being there in the mornings restores my soul, as well as starts the day with some peace and quiet.

Of course, I am a spiritual person, so I find it restorative spiritually as well. But often, I just sit in the stillness and the absolute quiet of the early morning, staring off into space, and thinking about nothing at all. Sometimes I read a book on Kadampa Buddhism I brought with me-I´m volunteering at a Kandampa Buddhist monastery in England for 6 weeks starting in July-and I find I can read several pages peacefully without disruption.

Ah, the sound of silence. Beautiful. Pure bliss.

And then, I walk the hour walk back to my house to start boiling water for drinking that day…back to the radio, the people all living close together, the dogs, pigs, cats, chickens, babies crying, children playing, people arguing…life.



10 responses to “Ah, The Sound of Silence!”

  1. rada says:

    Hi there to every one, the contents present at this website are in fact awesome for people experience, well, keep up the good work fellows.

  2. hello there and thank you for your info – I’ve definitely picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this website, as I experienced to reload the website lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective intriguing content. Ensure that you update this again soon..

  3. I love reading through an article that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  4. Then they make movies about people going missing and getting cut up and laugh about it. Thats the jew for you. The deflection in the movie Hostel was the ISRAELI guy in it..just to throw you off the jew scent

  5. learn more says:

    Many thanks for sharing all these wonderful content. In addition, the best travel along with medical insurance strategy can often eliminate those issues that come with visiting abroad. Your medical crisis can soon become expensive and thats sure to quickly put a financial problem on the family finances. Setting up in place the great travel insurance program prior to leaving is definitely worth the time and effort. Thank you

  6. Great web site. Plenty of helpful info here. I am sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks in your effort!

  7. Just what you are expressing is completely correct. I am aware that everybody need to say the same task, however just think that you input it in a manner that everybody is able to comprehend. Also i love the photos you put in below. They can fit very well in what you happen to be telling. Is the correct you will get to more and more people in what youve got to convey.

  8. Jeśli interesują Cie listwy sufitowe to zapraszamy na naszą stronę internetową

  9. barrage lalla takerkouste au maroc – agence du bassin hydraulique de tensift…

    barrage lalla takerkouste au maroc – agence bassin hydraulique tensift…

  10. barrage lalla takerkouste au maroc – agence du bassin hydraulique de tensift…

    barrage lalla takerkouste au maroc – agence bassin hydraulique tensift…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *