Today I went to the funeral of a man I wish to call a friend, Mayra’s father, Mano Basilio Escalante. He died yesterday from Metastasized cancer. He had a long and fruitful life and judging from the overflow group of mourners in the Bongo, Bugaba church he left a big positive footprint with family, friends and neighbors.
I knew Mano Basilio for almost four years, even when I could barely speak Spanish he would sit me down ask me questions and tell me about his life in Bongo. As I understood more, I appreciated the man and my respect for him grew. He and his wife raised nine children and they believed education was the key to their future. They insured that their children had the opportunity to attend primary and secondary schools which meant having a place for them to live in the town of Concepcion. The farm was and still is too rural for public transport, their home still does not have electricity.
Over the past four years I spent many days visiting the Escalante family farm in Bongo and each visit broadened my understanding of Panama and the campesino culture here. I know the Escalante family will miss their patriarch, so will I.
Later this week I will write about some of the moral, legal and ethical issues that his death and form of dying raised in my mind, but for today, just tribute and thank you to a friend I will miss.