"CONCEPCION, My Private Retreat to a simpler time" Alto de Panamá by thinking

Alto de Panamá Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 7 photos

Learning Spanish in a humane and natural way

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than MAN.
Sophocles,Antigone

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Life is a series of surprises. We cannot guess the mood, the pleasure or the
power of tomorrow.

In Manhattan, I had heard from a renowed researcher about the Chang family in Panama and how their grandfather was sold in Shanghai and brought to Panama to be the son of a childess Chinese couple.

The family spoke Chinese, yet each one learned to speak Spanish all in Concepcion, a small intact Spanish village in the interior of Panama.
Would I finally be able to master the language myself?
From Newark airport, a mere 5 hours later, I arrived in Panama to meet with
Don Gustavo Chang and his wife, Tammy Liu.

Yes, I have studied Spanish not only in high school but at the University and many other times at the very best and fanciest schools in the world. Do I speak Spanish? No. Would I ever get down to business and learn? Yes, if I could learn the language the way that Gustavo did when he arrived from Hong Kong. He would show me his method and what I was to experience and how and why I would learn it in Concepcion.

Don Gustavo is an exceptional man, as is obvious if you listen to what he says. His eyes makes estates, as fast as the sun breeds clouds. There is always room for a man of force, and he makes room for many. Society is a troop of thinkers, and best heads among them take the best places. like a cat, fell on hi And a man like Don Gustavo anywhere in this world is worth a million of the city men I left behind in my home in Manhattan.

After overnighting in Panama City, we flew to David, the capital of an interior provence of Chiriqui. From there we were picked up and drove another 30 minutes into the village Concepcion.

I asked what my address would be while I was in the village, and I was told it will be the house of Don Gustavo.
No other information would be needed.

So when we arrived, I was driven into a beautiful home he had built himself equiped with all the comforts of life and more. His world was one of music played on a baby grand piano, and a lush landscape of coconut and fruit trees, thick green grass, orchids, and tennis courts. How alive and beautiful everything is here in contrast to the grey concrete of Manhattan and the inhumane people who reside there.

At night, the shutters on the windows were opened as it is humid and wet during rainy season. As I laid down to sleep, I heard dog’s barking, the insects singing and the roosters crowing.

So natural and finally I am experiencing real life in the tropics of Panama. I felt at home and at peace in the arms of Don Gustavo's home.

In the morning, I was to meet Jaquline, the maid who would be taking care of the cooking and the household. She greeted me in their large kitchen and this was the beginning of my learning Spanish. At the end of breakfast, I already knew 10 words.

As the hours turned into days, I adjusted to the life in the village. Each day I met the baker, a teacher, the fisherman, the sugarcane juice man, etc. and all without a car because everything is in walking distance. When I found out their was no ice cream store, I was told it was because they sold 2 scoops of homemade ice cream for $.25. If I wanted to have a conversation the entire village was their to help me. I cannot beleive I am really learning Spanish.

this is a work in progress, I am not finished.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Relaxing & educational vacation from modern city life.
  • Cons:interior locaton. Requires time & money to get there
  • In a nutshell:Relaxing break from modern life with a change for learning
  • Last visit to Alto de Panamá: Aug 2002
  • Intro Updated May 18, 2009
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thinking Used To Live Here!

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