In Panama

When some one asks "What was it like growing up in Panama?" I say -- like childhood anywhere: Never-never land; the Secret Garden; The Imaginary Landscapes of Tyrus Wong. Do you remember,m we ask each other whenever we meet again. But our shared memories were never really shared. How much was real and how much imagined when we view the past from different-colored eyes and different vantage points: one coasted down mud hills in cut-off palm fronds; another, haunted by the scene Balboa had once viewed in Darien, liked swimming in both oceans in one day and I shared spheres of make-believe with two whose chief joy in their father, as Alcalde, was "Now we all can go to the movies free."m What was it like? Like childhood, any childhood: the Peach Blossom Land of Chinese fabl e whose shores, as soon as one left them, disappeared.

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