I am using the different greetings so you know which country I am writing to you from. Ciao Amici, Italia; Hola Amigos, Panama; Hi Friends from home territory.
This has been another excellent work week for me in the peace of my air-conditioned studio. I have progressed well with the Dawdi House painting. I have put more detail into the figures, added a vegetable garden and placed two quilts on a line that joins the Dawdi house to the big house. I have yet to add flowers. As you can see, I am having fun.
I have also been working on a large horse oil painting. I have a separate studio for painting in oil and because I am painting on canvas and not paper, it does not need air-conditioning. It sounds extravagant to have two studios but that is how it works best for me. I need space for these large canvasses and besides, a break from the long hours I spend in my watercolor studio helps me switch my mind to this different medium. Much of my watercolor work is detailed. When I paint in oil I create broad sweeps of color, a very different action.
On Wednesday, I took time off to visit the farm. The farm is small, only 21 acres. It sits on the shore of Laguna Tierra Oscura (Dark Lands Lagoon), a thirty minute ride in our boat. The lagoon has its name because on its south and west sides are mountains that cast a shadow over land and water as the sun sets. It is a place of tranquility which is why Malcolm named the farm "Finca (farm) Tranquilla." When he found the place five years ago, it was overgrown and had been long neglected. Now it is a place of beauty with fruit trees, hardwood trees and a variety of animals.
The farm's main produce is free range organic chickens and although it
has yet to show a profit, it keeps Malcolm active and is the subject of
a book he is writing about a crazy Englishman who, late in life, decides
to try his hand at farming in a distant land.
The farm is taken care of by Andres, his wife Kasilda and Samuel, all delightful Indians. We came away with a Guanabana fruit. It has a thin skin that peels easily. Inside its flesh is white, has the texture of heavy cream and is delicious. Some of you will know it as Soursop, the West Indian name. We first came across it in Jamaica many years ago.
We gave part of the Guanabana to Tony and Silvia, our Chinese neighbors. Tony told Malcolm that you can die if you eat Guanabana and drink alchol at the same time, then added "so they tell me." He also said eating Guanabana before breakfast rids your body of parasites. We still have a lot to learn about the fruits and plants of the tropics.
We celebrated Independence Day at the Buccaneer Restaurant on neighboring Isla Carenero. There was a gathering of about forty Gringos. It was fun but I missed my family and was full of memories of past July Fourths and fireworks and patriotic music. I have needed this concentrated painting time and it had to be the priority. My reward will be the convention which is now less than three weeks away.
Hasta luego. Next week I will tell you how the P. Buckley Moss Society impacts on the local schools through its program of teaching English to the Indian children.
When we have this problem, we often refer to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary instead of using the computer program's Spell Check. To begin with, if the first letters of a word are as off the mark as ours can be, Spell Check is unable to cope. Apart from that, looking up a word in Webster's allows you to learn more than just the spelling. For instance this week we looked up both "Buccaneer" and "Gringo." The latter we can spell but we wanted to read Webster's definition. Now listen to this:
Buccaneer. French, "boucanier", user of a boucan (Brazilain) grill for roasting meat; origninally applied to French hunters of wild oxen in Haiti; a pirate, or sea robber, especially one who raided along the Spanish coasts of America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Comment: These islands, with their plentiful source of fresh water and abundance of fruit and of lumber for ship repair, were havens of the buccaneers. Stories abound of treasure hidden along the shores of the lagoons.
Gringo. Spanish gibberish among Spanish-Americans, an Englishman or American; hostile and contemptuous term.
Comment: Today Gringos bring investment and community support to Latin America and, in general, are favorably regarded.