And speaking of wandering…

Calidonia Street Market

Calidonia, Panama City

My wife and I recently had the pleasure of joining our daughter and son in law on a trip to Panama to celebrate our daughter’s 30th birthday.  I’m not sure why they chose Panama as the destination – perhaps because they could use their points for a nice hotel there.  Well it was a nice hotel and we got to stay for free too, which (we Scots have a reputation to uphold, you realize) was wonderful.
Well, in anticipation of the trip I bought a map of Panama to study the city and to find the places of interest that we might like to visit (us fair-skinned Northern Europeans don’t do beaches very well).  As I perused the map, I was reminded of something my grandfather had often said: No matter where you go in the world, you will always find a Scotsman there.  And it is true – whether by choice or by something like the Highland Clearances we Scots have become a tribe of wanderers.  My maternal grandfather, who worked in a tartan mill in Scotland, was offered the chance to run a textile mill in South America in the 30s or 40s and turned it down – a choice he later regretted.
So what was it about the map that brought that comment back to mind?  It was the discovery of a section of the city called (of all things) Calidonia (latinized spelling, presumably).  That brought to mind the first time I had heard of the Scots in Panama by way of a Celtic folksong about the ill-fated Darien Expedition.  Then just last year I read Tim Severin’s book “In Search Of Robinson Crusoe” where he gave a pretty good account of the misery and suffering inflicted on that group of Scots who had such high hopes of making a good life in the New World.
For anyone interested, you can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darien_scheme
So, how was Calidonia, you ask?  Well, at first glance I thought “This doesn’t feel very much like my Caledonia to me”, but on reflection, is it really that much different to a street market in Glasgow?  People milling around, going about their everyday lives, window shopping, buying groceries for dinner, treating themselves to something from a street vendor, music blaring from the stores.  So, no – it’s not that much different.  Oh, except for the fact that it was warm and sunny in Calidonia which is the norm there… and a rare splendor in my Caledonia. 🙂

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