Coco Solo circa 1983?
I have been really struggling inside since I saw this video a friend posted on facebook. It is a video of people living in Coco Solo, the town I consider to be my childhood home. I’ll post it last, you’ll understand why in a minute.
Me and My brother with our pups
Growing up we moved quite a bit, and Coco Solo was the longest I’d ever lived anywhere until my adulthood. We lived there from my 2nd grade year until they closed the neighborhood to Americans, when I was going into 7th grade. I graduated from Coco Solo elementary, went to junior high there and returned my senior year to graduate from Cristobal High
(which is in Coco Solo.)
Coco Solo Elementary
It was a magical place to be a kid.
The entire peninsula had been built on coral reefs long ago (in the 1920’s I think) and jutted out into the bay with water so deep you could see schools of tuna swimming by you if you stood on the breaker wall. The flat fields were perfectly manicured. Wonderful for flying kites. Mango trees and almond trees waited for kids to climb up into. Parrots flocked to them and ate heartily on the fat juicy fruit.
We lived across the street from the elementary school, the last house before the ocean.
I moved back to Panama my senior year of college. (I was a Latin American studies major in Arkansas and realized how dumb that was since my family was in Latin America.) While finishing college there I saw the changes. All the American neighborhoods that had been Pan Canal Commission had long since been turned over. Only two military bases on the Atlantic side remained. Many people were unemployed and the drug culture/gangs was taking a firm hold on the people. People shunned Atlantic- siders when they would apply for jobs on the Pacific Side, because of their skin color or just because they were from Colón, I don’t know.
It’s been 17 years since I left and obviously things have only gotten worse.
Here is the video.
I want to help.
I don’t know how.