Thursday, March 23, 2006

Celestial Light Show

Today my mind drifted to Panama and my time there when I was in the Army. Initially I was stationed on the Pacific side of the canal, but I got moved to the other side.
Once my orders came to move to Fort Sherman on the Atlantic side of Panama, I spent a great deal of time exploring. This side of Panama is less populated and more remote. Fort Sherman which lies just across the bay, about ten miles by water, from Colon, Panama which is the country's second largest city. Sherman was hacked out of the jungle and consisted of about 5 barracks and a few houses for non commissioned officers. There was an open-air movie theatre that showed movies on Friday nights.
During one of our expeditions the guys showed me Fort San Lorenzo which is a Spanish fort built in the late 1500's by engineer Juan Antonelli by order of Philip II of Spain. The stone walls, battery emplacements and some of the old canons still exist on the deserted site. It sat near the mouth of the Chagres River which provides access to the interior of Panama by water. The fort itself stood at the crest of a cliff and on a clear day it seemed like you could almost see Jamaica.
I loved Fort San Lorenzo and went there often but one of the most remarkable visits was late one night when the moon was full in the fall of 1972. I was lonely and it felt like I was a million miles from home so I mounted my dirt bike and rode off through the dirt road that cut through the jungle like a tunnel in places.
Once there I knew I was the only soul for many miles. I took my flashlight and walked out on the stone wall and sat down on the edge facing northward toward home. The surf which was crashing on the beaches several hundred feet below where I was perched had a ghostly hue and rumbled as it had for eons.
I sat there for a great while lost in my thoughts. I was looking at the sky which did not have to compete with city lights or smog and it was magnificent. All of a sudden I saw a shooting star that had a vapor trail which reached almost to the horizon from where it appeared. I bolted upright and wiped my eyes. I thought at first I had imagined it, but a few moments later another one appeared just as brilliant as the other. I soon lost count of how many I saw, but it was the most remarkable meteor shower I have ever seen.
It was then that I stopped feeling lonely and started feeling blessed to have witnessed such a celestial light show.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required