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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hospitals and Healers

Where I lived in the United States and France, most people were unwell most of the time. They weren’t necessarily outright sick terribly often, but they never really felt the way people should feel; they were constantly tired (even when they got up in the morning), and burdened with indigestion, backaches, migraines, and breathing difficulties. They were often trying to work at their jobs while wishing they could just stay in bed, but, when they could rest, they found themselves unable to sleep. They would see the doctor, who would prescribe something, but they never really got better.

Here in las Tierras Altas (the Highlands) of Panamá there seems to

be a far lower incidence of low-grade illnesses such as colds and flus and chronic fatigue and allergies. I think a big reason for this is the relatively clean environment: the air here has very little if any industrial/vehicular pollution in it, the water is pure and full of healthy minerals, and the locally grown produce is healthy and nutritious. Also, people (except for the rich gringos and their big SUVs) get a lot more exercise here. Except for those rich gringos, most people don’t own cars; they walk to the grocery store, they walk to the bus stop, they walk to visit friends. The bus stop for me is a walk of several minutes, up a long incline, and I walk it quickly on purpose to increase the exercise potential.

But the most important health-inducing factor here is, without question, the lack of stress. The local people – Panamanians (Latinos) and Ngobe Bugle (Native Americans) alike – are a very easygoing, laid-back people. It frustrates a lot of gringos that they’ll say, “I’ll come by to do your landscaping tomorrow,” and then not show up for two or three days, but that’s the way they are: they will get to everything, but they feel no anxiety to rush through things; instead, they do it when the time comes.

If anxiety and stress are what you want, I recommend the big seacoast cities – the city of Panamá, Davíd, Colón – where you’ll find plenty of tension and pollution

* * *

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  1. Interesting post on the local healers. I do think that you are incorrect about the land and water where you live. Volcan, Paso Ancho on up to Cerro Punta contains some of the most heavily chemically treated soil and water. Whole fields and small garden plots are routinely doused with paraquat to kill weeds, and many pesticides (most banned in the US). Just be careful...

  2. Hello, Vicki, and thank you for your comment! In reply, well, yes and no. Yes, pesticides are used here in a (to me) alarming amount. But I have been assured by M.D.s that a good washing of veggies before cooking them is sufficient. The water I drink is from the municipal system, and, as you may know, the source is up toward the mountains, past the farmed areas, in the "Witch Creek" area. I'm sure it's reasonably clean. And, in any case, as again I'm sure you know, in the United States and Western Europe one is breathing in considerable amounts of pollution and particulates, and the water is not only widely polluted but also chemicaled supposedly to clean it, and also impregnated with compounds that are supposedly good for us. On the whole, I think things are much cleaner here. :-)