The Beauty and the Beast

We normally don’t have grizzly bears in Panama.  A grizzly bear is a powerful brownish-yellow bear of the uplands of western North America.  It isn’t that they disappeared from the isthmus, I don’t think there were ever bears in this part of the world.  This doesn’t mean you can’t find one or two if you look closely.  I found one at the entrance of a shop at a local mall last Sunday.  Of course it wasn’t a real bear, but believe me, it sure looked like a fierce mean bear to me.

This bear is one of the most photographed subjects at the mall.  People patiently line up to have their picture taken with the mean-looking-bear.  I was no exception, except I was the guy taking the picture with my ole Birthday camera.  A little girl was brave enough to stand under the bear and pose for the camera.  This is it my friends.

Photograph of a brave little girl and an artificial grizzly bear at a local mall in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

2 thoughts on “The Beauty and the Beast”

  1. Love it, Omar. The picture instantly took me back to 1974 and the little town of Bellhaven, North Carolina. I had my first captain’s job running a small motor yacht in Chicago and was delivering the boat to Fort Lauderdale, Florida via lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie, the Erie Canal, the Hudson River and was now at the end of my first day on the 1,100 miles of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs from Norfolk, Virginia down south to Miami.

    For reasons too long and convoluted to recount here, I was doing this stretch alone. I had made the mistake of under estimating the time it would take me to get from Norfolk to Bellhaven and in the middle of the night, on the lonely stretch of the Pungo-Alligator River Canal, I hit a submerged stump at the edge of the canal (man it was dark out there and far from civilization) and bent a propeller.

    At the time there was only one marina in Bellhaven, the River Forest. It was owned by an eccentric gentleman named Axson Smith. Mr. Smith wore the worst toupee in the world. When he had bought it years before he must have had red hair since that was the color of the rug. But over the intervening years his hair had gone to salt and pepper and the contrast between his real hair and the toupee was delightfully odd.

    I was stuck at the River Forest for several days while waiting to have the prop repaired. Fortunately the marina had a great and very popular restaurant where I took my meals. The decor of the restaurant was as eccentric as its owner and filled with all sorts of stuffed wildlife. Birds and other critters were scattered throughout. Over in the far corner from the entrance was a stuffed grizzly bear like the one in your photo.

    Unfortunately those were the days when no one could even have conceived of small digital cameras which is a shame because when I went there to eat my first supper I was met with an outlandish sight. Two withered old blue-haired southern ladies were quietly eating their meal while towering over them, as though ready to have THEM for its dinner, was the huge grizzly set to pounce.

    What I would have given for that photo, and while it never made it to film it’s still etched in the album of my mind.

  2. Hi Richard:

    Wow! What a great story. I re-lived with you that long journey and your experience at the restaurant. You could easily write a Hollywood script and make a lot of dough.

    Thank you for an exciting story. I’m sure our readers will love it as well.

    Enjoy yourself in Chiriquí,


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