VIVA PANAMA!

Marlena Maduro Baraf writes about Panama

It seems appropriate to me that the name Panama doesn't change in translation. It is Panama in English, French, Swedish, and Swahili. Panama is the name of a narrow isthmus bordered by two mighty oceans, a crossroads for trade. A capital city and complex metropolis. It's a lush tree with ample shade in the plaza.

November Third. Today is the day Panama celebrates its independence from Colombia. From province to small republic.  It happened 113 years ago in 1903 just before Panama sealed a deal with Teddy Roosevelt to build a canal 50 miles across the narrow waist of the country. Panama has come a long way since then.

Viva Pa-na-má! There's grace in the three simple syllables (with an accent in Spanish).

The word of indigenous origin means abundance of fishes and butterflies.

To the film director Norman Foster, Panama is slow moving fans in the ceiling of a murky bar with Sydney Toler in make-up--playing Charlie Chan in Panama. In the novelist John LeCarre's imagination Panama becomes The Tailor of Panama.

Panama is the name for fabrics porous and white. Flexible cottons, refined.

It is a hat.