Panama 2020 – Last Show On Earth Ep 7

The first time I met Jose Angulo it was only briefly, as my limited Spanish didn’t allow us too deep an exchange, but he stayed in my mind. Like meeting old man time himself, his eyes were aglow with tales of distant seas and mountain ranges that hold up the very heavens above the earth. There he stood, leaning on his fence gazing out to sea, the gatekeeper to the promised land of trash that lay beyond these few settlements. He made a lasting impression on me even then, so I was overjoyed to see him stroll over as we sifted through the plastic on the shoreline this time, especially knowing we could converse more fully second time round now my Spanish was so much better and Mai was here also. 

He looked baffled by us, sifting through the plastic along his fence line. We explained our mission, that we create art from this stuff and are looking for the interesting bits and pieces amidst the detritus. He smiled knowingly, nodding, “I will look for things for you, I’m good at finding things!” We chatted a while then bid him farewell, and moved back towards the festival. We could see him bending down, collecting things as he returned home. 

We returned just before the festival started, looking for some new treasures to finish the House of Apocalypse. His face lit up as we approached, “Amigos!” He welcomed us with open arms for a bear hug, making us the best cup of coffee we had had in two months. He produced a box of treasures, all the good stuff, dolls arms, small figures, broken toy parts, a fine horde! 

He invited us in to show us his own work, incredible driftwood pieces, covered in shells and micro particles, towers of platform structures holding miniature worlds aloft and a tall driftwood ship complete with sails, beautiful work. Funnily enough it’s the kind of stuff I imagined making when I first came here, before I got distracted by the endless piles of plastic. Jose is as old as time and as young as the dawn, he has one of those faces that tells a thousand stories, an energy that immediately makes you feel calm, and some awesome one-liners to boot! 

When we went to see him post-festival I was already enquiring about any properties in the area it might be possible to rent, but had thus far drawn blanks. His face lit up with that illuminating smile of his, “Una casa? Yes of course there is, just over the hill, come I will show you”. Machete in hand, we followed him up the hill and onto a jungle track. 


Safe havens not hard to find,

For the one eyed king in the land of the blind,

At the edge of the world, safe from harm,

Where the seas are fierce but the breeze is warm. 

Broken plastic on golden sands, the only sign of human hands,

All the things we threw away, return to haunt us this dark day,

So sits I watching from afar, and wonder really where we are.

Now tomorrow’s cancelled and times stood still, 

As I beat a retreat to the house on the hill,

To gaze spellbound as Atlantic breaks, 

the Caribbean’s turquoise gates, 

With wild white horses bearing down,

On paradise here, now lost and found.