Thursday, September 22, 2016


 by Ray Jason         

          It was the silhouette hour.  A cayuco came paddling towards me in the deep dusk as I sat with my back against AVENTURA’s mast.  The oarsman’s stroke was smooth and strong.  There was a child in the back tending the fishing line as her dad rowed. 
When they were 20 yards away I realized that it was not a father – it was a grandmother.  Even though she was as ancient and weathered as her hand-carved cayuco, she propelled it like a man in the prime of his life.  It was a joy to behold.   
            I motioned them over towards my boat and hustled below for a packet of cookies to give to them.  As they nudged up beside my hull, I was amazed by the peaceful dignity of the old woman.  Her face was dark and deeply lined, but her eyes flashed like moonlight on the sea.  At this close range I could now see the amazing resemblance between her and her grand-daughter. 
As they rowed away I noticed the grandmother turn her head to make sure that the young girl was okay.  I suspect that as she did so her mind flashed back to when she was that same age - sitting in the stern of a little cayuco admiring the power and grace of HER grandmother as she paddled them across a twilight lagoon.
            I turned back to my clipboard and spent a half an hour working up a haiku to celebrate the encounter.
            Ancient grandmother –
            you still row your cayuco
            like the girl within.


Thursday, September 8, 2016


by Ray Jason

            I walked into the little Panamanian drug store feeling sorry for myself because I had a nasty cold.  Two minutes later I walked out feeling humbled … and desolate.

            Inside there was a mom and her young teenage daughter consulting with the female pharmacist.  My arrival instantly turned the scene tense.  I could sense it – but not understand it.  Then I realized that the druggist was showing them how to use a pregnancy testing kit.
            Suddenly, the insignificance of my runny nose in comparison with their actual life-changing trauma, just hammered my heart.  I left swiftly – without buying any medicine.
            I swear, if a bishop had been walking past, I would have grabbed him by his authoritarian collar and shoved him into the farmacia and said,
            “Look at the agony on the faces of this mother and child.  Your church did this to them.  Your perverse desire to control even the most intimate details of a person’s conduct has cast them into a pit of worry and despair.  By forbidding her from using a birth control method that actually works, you are forcing this teenager to make a decision of lifelong importance - even though she is a half a decade from adulthood.”