ode to mary bereva. aka mary. =]
Enter Mary. One of gaby’s cousins (i told you already about the extended network…) she offered to take us around the city and to the older parts of Panama. Passing by one of the rougher “Red Zone” areas of Panama City, she turned to us and said, “Its a good thing we are in a car. These parts are dangerous.” If I might add a little further to that statement, “It’s a good thing we’re with you Mary. We’d be chickens without heads without you!”
Safely arriving in the old part, extreme poor and extreme rich bumped shoulders everywhere we looked. One on side of the street, the presidential palace. The other? A skeleton of a house, with a forest of trees growing from the inside out. Cobblestone streets lead out of the mazework to the sea, where street children played in water Mary swore would give us all kinds of skin diseases but eluded those kids. We saw where the old prisoners were kept and subsequently drowned when the tide came in and flooded the cells. We ate shaved ice pops smeared with condensed milk. And for lunch! Rice with lentils and pulled beef so huge that a grown man would have trouble finishing!
We finished off the tour with a quick look at the Golden Altar, saved from the invasion of pirates by an ingenious priest who painted the whole thing black. Mary said she was a bridesmaid to one of her friends who got married in that church, with that altar. IMPRESSIVE.