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Never Judge a Rainy Travel Day by its Cover...

 

Evelyn Hannon

Weather is always a safe conversation starter especially when friends ask you about your latest holiday. They smile broadly at the mention of 'sun' and frown with concern when 'rain' creeps into the discussion. As a JourneyWoman who always carries a thin, light, $1.00 rain cape plus an umbrella in my backpack, I salute the Rain Goddess when she sends precipitation my way. I understand she is simply forcing me to be a creative traveller.

 

We woke up to rain...

On a recent Central American cruise our itinerary called for a short stop in Panama.�We woke up to rain. I�m not talking drizzle or tropical mist. I�m talking torrential downpours that ebbed and flowed all day. All excursions from the ship were cancelled however we were free to disembark to check out the shops in the immediate area. Imagine � 750 passengers and a strip of 20 shops. Doesn�t sound like a genuine �travel� experience does it? Well, you�re wrong. I had a fabulous time.

My camera is a great travel companion. Together we looked for interesting faces to include in our �Women I�ve Met Around the World� series. Asking permission to record someone�s image means a chat. And anybody who travels knows that a chat very often leads to a longer conversation and the opportunity to share a smile or a handshake with someone who was a stranger just five minutes before.

 

She spoke no English..

So I sort of chatted with the regal woman who stood in front of the supermarket collecting donations for her hospital. I don�t speak Spanish but I signaled the start of a� conversation by putting a US dollar in her donation tin. She didn�t speak English however her response to me was a lovely smile. Now we were no longer strangers. I know that because she acknowledged me when I walked by later in the day. She also rewarded me with the perfect opportunity to take her photo.

 

Guns in supermarkets?

Next stop was the supermarket. To me it looked like all the other supermarkets found in shopping strips around that part of the world except for one big difference. I was a bit nervous about going through the doors when I saw the sign that read, �No firearms allowed.� Oh, oh, I thought. What happens in supermarkets in Panama that would cause them to put up those kind of a signs? But, it was raining outside and I was curious�

 

Her face lit up the place...

There was a little coffee bar right inside the entrance. Seated at one of the tables was a woman with a face that was so welcoming that I knew there was potential for some juicy interaction. I sat down beside her and introduced myself. She didn�t speak English but her pal seated across the table did. Before long we were all tentatively talking, then smiling and, finally actually laughing. It might have been raining outside but inside the supermarket that woman's face lit up our little corner of the world. Who needs fancy bus excursions when real life experiences like this one become available?�I promised to send both these women copies of the photos that came from our chance meeting.

 

Meeting George was an absolute treat...

HandshakeMy last shopping encounter was at the supermarket check-out counter. George, a retired Panamanian fireman and dad of five kids was in line right behind me. This time, it was he who started the conversation (in English) and as the line moved forward we talked about everything from Wikileaks to how cold it gets in North Carolina. We shook hand before leaving the store, his ebony-black skin in stark contrast to my much lighter hand made a wonderful image. I asked George for permission to record that image with my camera. This is the result. It�s a photo that I know will bring back fond travel memories in years to come.

EDITORS NOTE: Interested in seeing the photo collection of splendid women I met on my Central American cruise? The first photo on the page is of Archbishop Tutu's young granddaughter who is 'a little firecracker' and wise beyond her years. Click here and enjoy.

 

 

 

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