I graduated from high school in 1965 at age nineteen. My next step was to obtain a college degree at the University of Costa Rica, since the one in Panama was closed because of persistent student’s riots.
I lived in Costa Rica from 1966 to 1972 striving to finish my education, but I was not prepared. There was an inner distraction that kept me away from the classrooms. So instead of studying, I decided to work as an accountant at a banana exporting company. We exported Del Monte bananas to Galveston and New York.
After getting nostalgic for my country, I came back and got a job as a financial analyst at a Texaco affiliate under the name of Refinería Panama, S.A. (Refpan). It was a wonderful job where I played with numbers all day long. I put long hours in that company preparing financial reports for our headquarters office in White Plains, New York. Numbers were my friends, many times I boasted that they “talked to me.”
While working as Chief Auditor for the Ministry of Economics and Planning, out of the blue, an inner voice told me I had to go back to college. The time was ripe and my mind longed for structured knowledge. One morning, I drove my car to ULACIT University, then located at El Cangrejo, and enrolled. It was like breaking a spell. That was in 1993 or 1994, I can’t remember exactly.
In 1999 at age 53, I finished my college education. Received a BS in Business Administration with a Summa Cum Laude honorary degree. My final grade was 96.4 out of a 100. It was a wonderful ride through the avenues of knowledge accompanied with a passion to learn. I still have that rage to find out new things for no special reason at all. Maybe it was because my mind had been frozen for such a long time while I was busy working. Lingua Franca is my excuse to keep busy searching for more information to share. This brings me great joy.
We didn’t take photographs of my graduation with my funny square hat and black toga. The most important moment in my life was not captured. A college diploma is the only evidence of this event—and a coffee mug. ULACIT gave it to me when I paid the graduation expenses.
I still have it and drink coffee every morning while the day is young. I’m an early riser. Can’t sleep well like most people do. Suffered from insomnia for a long time. That gives me plenty of time to read and research my writing topics—while the city sleeps and the roosters crow.
This is the coffee mug that reminds me of college—a place I eluded for a long time due to an inner fear of learning. Here we go.
Life is strange. This innocent coffee mug represents 34 years of intellectual drought. I’m glad it’s finally over. Sometimes I think about finishing my Master’s Degree, but that inner fear still resides within me. Time will tell if I go back to the classroom or not. Good Day.