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Monday, November 24 2014 @ 07:22 PM EST

Panama's Robinson Crusoe

Expat Tales By - Rusty: On one of my many trips to Panama I met an interesting old German man (obviously in his 80's or even older). Some locals call him a modern day Robinson Crusoe. He lives on an island off the coast where he works as an island caretaker... possibly he is the owner...I do not know. If he is the caretaker, I assume he receives a penchant of a salary. There he fishes and maintains a garden for food. Every few months he takes his little outboard motorboat to Panama City to buy fuel and supplies. He then finds a pub and wets his whistle. He just happened to pull-up a bar stool next to me. He spoke English fairly well. So we chatted and drank a few beers together. I was fascinated to hear his story how he navigates the open ocean for hours with his small outboard motorboat. I asked him, "how do you navigate when you cannot see land?" He knowingly smiled and pointed to his nose. I inquisitively raised my eyebrows and asked him, "aren't you just a little afraid traveling such a distance in a small boat?" He answered me, "no, I'm an old seaman. I can feel my way. I use my natural senses...my eyes, my ears, my nose...I watch the birds fly...I see the fish swim...I can sense the currents..." Then he pondered for a moment and said, "...and then of course, I have a GPS." We immediately shared a good laugh and ordered another beer. (more)

He told me that as a young man in Germany he fought in WWII for Adolph Hitler. He said during the war he saw nothing but carnage...as he put it..."all in the name of religion". Because of what he saw, he renounced all organized religion deciding instead to worship only nature. He worships natural, everyday miracles, most of us usually take for granted.

He told me since the end of WWII, he shunned most men and instead sought a life of semi-solitude with nature...living on a small and remote island with his woman...somewhat like Robinson Crusoe's Friday. (He chidingly complained that SHE is getting too old for him...she just turned 60...yes...she was a good companion... but he wanted a younger woman...one that could make babies...he made me laugh).

Then somehow the subject of religion re-appeared and he told me. "I worship the Earth, I worship the water, I worship life, the Sun, Moon and Stars. I worship what I can see and what makes life and death, possible. I reject men who tell me how I must live. I reject men who tell me I must believe in a God I can only find in a book. They are insane, these religious people...killing each other in the name of their God! I reject organized religion and the violence that too often accompanies it. I choose to live away from these things...peacefully ...in nature...the way it should be (in Panama)."

Before I departed, I bought him another beer for the road. As we enjoyed our final, ice cold, cerveza together, I was amazed by how well he looked for his age. His hair and beard were gray and white, his face was grandfatherly, wrinkled and somewhat weathered from the sea...but his eyes were bright and full of life. Though he was old and may not live but a few more years, I envied him. He was living free as only I can dream.

From inside me welled-up a feeling. I really wanted to shred my airline ticket and simply abandon my "captive" life in the US. I wanted to break away to a simpler life without all the hustle and bustle. A life without the stress of commitment and responsibility that my job and life in the US brings.

Yet, commitment, responsibility, and the need for money ultimately reasoned me back to reality. I was forced (hopefully temporarily) to abandon my urges for the ultimate freedom in exchange for the reality of my life. I shook this distinguished gentleman's hand bidding him farewell. Then reluctantly stepped back into the fast lane where I live.

One day I shall return to Panama...to live free as does my friend whom I shall call, Robinson Crusoe. By Rusty

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Hey Don! I love your Panama-Guide!

Here is a piece I put together from one of my last trips to Panama. I'd be honored if you'd post this in your Panama-Guide.

Just a little background info...I met this gentleman in April 2006 at the Bavaria Gaust Haus Restaurant & Bar on a Saturday afternoon. I didn't catch his name...but he was very interesting. We sat together and enjoyed a few beers...he requested that the bar play German Polka/party music...he seemed to really enjoy singing along in German...he literally pounded the bar as he sang at the top of his voice.

The other day as I thought back about my trip...the stories this man told me came flooding back...obviously, he inspired me enough to write about him.

If you want to find-out who this guy is, you might want to talk to Gerald (the owner of the Gaust Haus). He may know this gentleman's name. I'll also check with my girlfriend...she may know who he is. I think if you could find him...you could put together a great human interest story.

Thanks.

Rusty

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