Last week the clergy of the Diocese of Panamá held their Clericus on Isla Colón (also known as Bocas Island) in the region of Bocas del Toro, near the Costa Rican border. One has two options for traveling to Bocas: flying or by road. The diocesan office rented a busito and driver for those of us who didn't want to drive ourselves or take a plane. Although Bocas is only about 240 miles or so from Panama City (I'm really guessing; I have no idea what the actual distance is), it takes about eight hours to travel from Panama City to Bocas. This is because the Panamerican Highway is four lanes from Panama City to Santiago de Veraguas, but only two lanes from then on, and much of the road is in terrible shape, not to mention mountainous. Revda. Carmen Saéz, Padres Carlos Austin, José Moreno, Eladio Rodriquez, and I rode in the busito. We left Panama City around 7:30 am and arrived in Almirante, Bocas del Toro, at 5:00 pm. We made excellent time even though we stopped in several places along the way on errands for Revda. Carmen (she must have family in very province of the country!) and we spent almost an hour in Santiago for lunch. Our driver, Eduardo, brought us right to the water taxi dock in Almirante where we met up with Bishop Murray, Walter Smith, Reyito and Roberto, and we dragged all our luggage onto the water taxi for the half-hour ride across the bay to Isla Colón (They stuffed all our luggage, plus about eighteen people on the little boat. Quite exciting!!!). Once on the isla, we found a taxi to take all our stuff to the Catholic Conference Center while we went to the IPAT (Instituto Panameño de Turismo or Panamanian Institute of Tourism) building. We held all our meetings and most of our meals at the IPAT building. We met up with Padres Kenny Ryan-King and Stany Yoris, and Revdas Glenda McQueen and Jane Surles. We had a lovely dinner on the balcony of the IPAT building, overlooking the bay. Back at the Catholic Conference Center, we had a Boy's Dorm and a Girl's Dorm, and the Bishop had his own room. It was like camp! We were supposed to be taking it easy, but every day's activities began at 7:00 am. My beloved clergy roomies got up around 5:00 every morning. Sheesh!
The next morning, after Holy Eucharist at St. Mary's Episcopal Church (and the arrival of Padre Nelson Edwards), we had breakfast and started our sessions. Bishop Murray led the sessions on Liturgy: Another Resource for Evangelism. We discussed the Daily Offices and the rites of Baptism and Confirmation. These sessions lasted all day, but we had another wonderful dinner at IPAT.
Wednesday was the Feast of the Assumption (or Dormition) of the Blessed Virgin Mary (and Mother's Day in Costa Rica!), and it was also our day for relaxation. We took a busito to Bocas del Drago, a beach on the other end of the island, where we took it easy. That evening we participated in the Patronal Festival at Iglesia Santa María.
We arose early Thursday morning to catch the water taxi back to Almirante, where Eduardo was waiting with the busito and Padre Nelson joined our original group for the ride home. The Lovely Mona was waiting for me at the Diocesan Center, and I was so happy to see her! However, the car decided to die on the way home. We were stuck in traffic on Tumba Muerta, you know, just before the traffic circle. The traffic was inching along and the car stalled and wouldn't start. So everybody started honking at us but that didn't seem to help at all; the car STILL wouldn't start (Amazing, don't you think? I mean, with all those cars honking our car should have got the message and started, but NOOOOO. IT DOESN'T CARE HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE HONKING!!!). I got out and tried to push it off the road, but it kept rolling back and trying to crush me. I was yelling at the Lovely Mona "The Brake!! THE BRAKE!!!" but she couldn't hear me. All of the sudden this guy appears and says "Let's be cool, baby! Push the car!" He and I pushed it and he yelled "Get in! GET IN!" We rolled down hill and popped the clutch to get it going again. Dr. Cordosa (for that is his name) drove us half-way home before we convinced him that everything was alright. I gave him money for a cab as there was no way we were getting back to where his car was in THAT traffic. Mr. Green, the Senior Warden of the parish and a retired mechanic, came over Friday and got it running again, but then it died on us yesterday on the way home from the grocery store (along with someone backing into the door yesterday, I'm about ready to light the car on fire, but the Lovely Mona says that That Is Wrong). The dang thing is still dead and I will spend much of tomorrow working with folks to get it running again, so blogging will probably be thin on the ground tomorrow.
Here are photos of Last Week's Adventure.
Revdo. Carlo Austin
Revdo José Moreno y Revda. Carmen Saéz.
We took a water taxi from Almirante to Bocas Town
The Dock at Almirante
In the water taxi to Isla Colón
The Water Taxi
More Photos Tomorrow!!!