festive punchline title provided by brother; guess the joke
I’m on the road again, after a delightful stay in Panama and a gem of a final night at this place
The prodigal bum (aka Skipper) has returned from a recent job, just in time for some Christmas cheer, so I once again have a travelling companion.
Journeys are taking longer; the queues of Panamanians on their way home for Christmas grow thicker, not just with people, but with baggage, presents, babies, and the occasional dog in a crate.
As sweltering and tropical Panama is, the festive season seems to drift by mostly unnoticed; it is hard to summon the spirit for it when the sun, shining hard and constant through the trees, renders any attempt at Christmas bling (as we know it) unnoticeable. If it’s not cold, it’s just not Christmas.
That is, of course, until one enters a shopping mall.
The voices, the piped music complete with jingle bells and the rumble of the escalators all echo against my senses, instantly evoking last-minute rushes through busy Manchester streets in search of Body Shop gift packs for forgotten aunts.
Children paw at thick glass windows, barely able to contain their hope; women waft by in clouds of perfume and everything, everything is covered in sequins.
And then there’s the supermarket! The “things we only buy at Christmas” displays reminiscent of our own; pre-mixed rum punch and stacks of turron evoking memories of my own family’s festive must-haves:
-Terry’s Chocolate Orange (several)
-Bottle of Bailey’s (largest available)
This made me giggle, especially the bit about walnuts.
Browsing the book of many faces gives me a pang, as I see my friends from around the world braving extortionate Christmas air fares and sleazyjet queues to be with their loved ones. It would be lovely to join my dad in a first round of drinks at 10am, and indulge in a nostalgic Game of Life with my brother as mum annihilates the After Eights.
But embrace a tropical Christmas I shall, made all the more pleasant by thoughts of future family reunions. In between bouts of work on the old whimsical and paradigm-shifting secret project (first mentioned here) I’ll be by the pool, getting lost in the sounds produced by this absolutely magical lady, should anyone need me.