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A Crying Old Asian

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Written by Matt   
Thursday, 29 April 2010 13:54

When in Panama, and the neighborhood I live in is called Casco Antiguo and it is comprised of a diverse network of buildings ranging from newly renovated to admitted defeat. Unlike many other areas of Panama, ailment Casco Antiguo is not hostage to its own success, sick which is to say, how can a neighborhood have high expectations when its always been on the ropes?

...I watched an older Chinese tourist gaze at the mounting trash dump on the corner and begin to weep heavily


I say always but in reality, Casco Antiguo only turned sour about fifty years ago. The rich people fled for the suburbs, the gangs immigrated in bounds, and the neighborhood started to look like an abandoned factory overrun with workers that didn’t wash their hair. It’s now re-emerging as a tourist destination and a large percentage of said tourists like to gather below my balcony and yell at one another.

The number one subject is not my building – a quaintly restored nunnery with interior courtyard of ancient exposed walls, original tile floors, and a gourmet ice cream shop in the ground floor – but rather the building across the street, which I heard one tourist refer to as “tragically beautiful.” Like a detective behind a two-way mirror, I sit on my balcony looking down at the visitors in silence, trying to decide where they are from.

Asian tourists are easy because they’re always looking up. If I didn’t know any better, from the way they stare, I’d think the entire continent of Asia was constructed on one level, as if zoning laws prevented anything interesting from being above eye-level. I’ve also heard that most of Asia is extremely clean which would explain why, just the other morning, I watched an older Chinese tourist gaze at the mounting trash dump on the corner and begin to weep heavily.

Casco Viejo is a great place to make a spectacle of yourself as there are almost always more interesting things to look at. A drunken squatter could be shitting in the corner or a kid, no older than ten, could be smoking a joint on the doorstep and it’s much, much more entertaining than a crying old Asian.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 00:48