Emily and her mother Mary traveled with me to Panama in 2016. Emily and Minga celebrated a shared birthday, and the entire Panama clan showed up in the village to celebrate.
While going through pics on her phone, Emily found this one of Minga at the condo I was then renting, out on the balcony looking toward the ocean. Remember that Minga never in her life lived in a house with stairs, or a second story. The concept of “a view” was not part of her expectation in having a home.
Back in the Peace Corps era, the land on which this upscale complex was built was used by villagers to graze their cows — including Minga’s then marido, Roberto Delgado. The small circular mill he used to grind sugar cane to make raspadura was here. He sold each cake of raspadura — brown sugar — for a nickel. Their daily income in those days was under $3, maybe under $2. Minga and Roberto had five children living with them, and Ana living with Minga’s aunt. Ana sometimes came around at supper time for a plate of rice and beans.
Families came on Sundays to cook over open fires and swim the two rivers that go out to the sea, or to play on the beach. They’ve lost that access now, along with the use of the land.
Minga looks pensive to me in this shot. I wonder what she might have been thinking.