Tag Archives: Rio-Abajo

How Numerous Are the Blacks of Panama?

Rio Abajo, one of the most populous districts of Panama City with a high concentration of Black residents, just celebrated their Black Ethnicity Day Celebration parade – Desfile de la Etnia Negra- with resounding success. Continue reading

La Boca Town: Farewell to an Icon

La Boca Town in flames as seen from a distance.
Image thanks to La Prensa.
A typical Quadrille group. Image thanks to
Hilario Campos.

With a justifiable note of regret the residents of La Boca Town gave a final farewell to the legendary piece of real estate that burned down completely on February 21, 2002. Today, 4th Street in Rio Abajo, where for decades La Boca Town was located, is witnessing dramatic winds of change. People from other areas and cultures have come to settle in this area and the descendants of the original Black Westindians who came with the construction of the Canal have departed in other directions or have simply died out slowly. Continue reading

Rio Abajo- How it All Started

The Stone Church or, Iglesia de Piedra, is one of Rio Abajo's main landmarks.

El General, famous Reggae singer and
Rio Abajo’s native son has also become
one of Panama’s icons. Image thanks to Taringa.

The known history of Rio Abajo dates from at least the 19th century when it was a vast grazing area devoted to the raising of cattle. From that point until 1914 during the construction of the inter-oceanic canal, a group of people originating from the English speaking Caribbean settled there and gave rise to urban settlements. Its rural, wide open countryside, in fact, was its first attraction for a people who were anxious to leave the squalid, crowded and expensive tenements of the big city and have a chance at owning a property of their own. Continue reading

Next Stops: Chorrillo, Betania and Rio Abajo

This is Rio Abajo today, an important part of the
Silver People Trail. Image thanks to Peter Hahndorf on flickr.
Ancon Hill as viewed from the back of what was
once the Ancon Laundry where my grandmother
worked for over 20 years. Today the building is
the headquarters of the DIJ (Dirección de Investigación
Judicial (the investigation arm of the police). You can just
about make out the Panamanian flag flying at the top in
the upper left hand corner of the photo.

Chorrillo, that part of the old sector of Panama City, had its colored community, having been a gateway to Calidonia and its colored communities of Guachipali, Marañon, and San Miguel with its view of Ancon Hill and the sea, and the beaches in the nearby upscale Bella Vista District with shade trees lining the streets and avenues. The beaches that ran all the way to Old Panama- Casco Viejo- were up until then clean enough for families and young boys to use as the neighborhood swimming holes that boys would remember for the rest of their lives. Continue reading

Susú Messenger Boy and Slave

I wholeheartedly support the strong anti-child labor movement in the world as we must put an end to the attitude of adults who feel they can take advantage of the vulnerability of children.

Presently, I’d gone back to doing what I knew best to do which was helping my grandmother, but I got the impression that I was beginning to feel too comfortable being around my grandmother and her adult female friends and associates, especially running Susú. It was a time that, at every turn it seemed, I’d become so trained by my grandmother that I was feeling taken for granted. I was not only the general handyman to her but to every one of her friends. Continue reading

Life’s Equation Solved by African Derived Religion

A painting of a Kumina ceremony.
Image: mydancing.com

Recalling Mother Campbell I’ll just back up a little bit. Shortly after arriving in Panama from what at the time had been my honeymoon trip, I found myself showing up at the door of Mother Campbell in Rio Abajo. She, even at that time after many years had passed without hearing from me in the United States, remembered me, whom she had known since I was a child. I had always admired her for always carrying an authoritative demeanor as the “Madame” I had known since I was about eight years of age and whose church was a frequent stop for my grandmother and me. Continue reading