Panama, the simple land

Photo by Ryan Brower
Taking a little time in between sessions to enjoy the Pacific from a hammock.

By Ryan Brower

Ever have that feeling that your life is too busy, or that all you ever do is work and go to school? Well, you’re not alone.

Many Americans, including this writer, feel the same exact way. Rarely do we take the time to sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves. Our society is very money driven, and the more schooling and hard work you put in, the bigger your salary becomes.

So, why all this focus on money, and the obtaining of “things?” Personally, I have no idea, and I can tell you that there is no reason for it.

Over winter break I traveled to Panama on a surf excursion with my dad and my best friend from home. We spent our first night in Panama City, 250 miles from our final destination on an island in the Gulf of Chiriquí.

Unable to effectively communicate with many people around us, the meagerness of our hotel, and the five-hour bus ride, not knowing whether or not we were on the right bus at all, made us a bit skeptical of our early adventure. These thoughts were soon silenced, along with our cares and worries, the minute our boat pulled up to the tiny island.

Palm trees, hammocks, delicious food, and of course, perfect empty waves were just a few of the benefits we soon began to enjoy.

Our days consisted of a pre-dawn breakfast followed by dawn patrol boat rides to surf flawless breaks, which we had all to ourselves. After the initial three-hour session, we’d travel back to the island for lunch and a quick read/nap in a hammock. Then we’d head back out for another three-hour session that was just as fulfilling as the first.

Upon returning to the island we would then have the benefit of another read or nap in that comfy hammock, dinner, surf movies, a few cervezas and then call it a night to do it all over again the next day.

Life just seemed so simple — eat only what your body needs, surf all day, obtain some knowledge from a book and take in the amazing views from a hammock. But these weren’t the only things that make Panama so trouble-free.

Panamanian people know how to live. They take the time to slow down, and do not get all wrapped up in their work, like many other countries throughout the world. This is not to say that they are not hard working and dedicated though. recently completed their annual International Vacation Deprivation Survey for this past year. The sixth year of conducting the survey included the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France and Australia. Among these countries American adults earn the lowest average number of vacation days per year, earning only 14 per year. The top earner for vacation days was France with 39, and everyone else scattered in between. Not only do Americans earn the lowest vacation days per year, but 33 percent of us do not use all of our vacation days.

This report shows that Americans dedicate their lives entirely to work, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there has to be a healthy mix of taking vacation time and being able to kick back and forget about things for a while. If not, stress will pile up and lead to a bitter and wearisome life.

So I am insisting that everyone take a break from time to time, and go on that surf trip, even if you don’t have the time or the money. This writer intends to do the same, as I am going to Oahu, Hawaii, at the end of January for The Pipeline Pro Contest, even though I don’t have the time. But I know it will all be worth it in the end.

Seeing everything there is to be seen is a necessity of human life, and simplifying things, even if for just a week-long vacation, is also vital. Take heed in these words from St. Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

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