Random Travel Moment #3: Indigenous Kids Making Mischief


Here in the US, we have Mischief Night, which falls on Halloween Eve. In Boquete, Panama, there may be something called Mischief Day, which is celebrated just about anytime.

As you’ll see in Random Travel Moment #3, a few kids plus a cat (any color–not just black) can equal… midday mischief. Or (and I’m wondering what you think) something slightly beyond.

I think the cat’s (and the kids’) eyes tell the story…


Where/When: The Pianista Trail, Boquete, Panama

I’d just finished hiking the trail and was heading back to catch a taxi. I’d seen only two people along the way and figured that was it—until I came upon these kids living near the river. I just had to stop and chat. First of all, they were so cute. Second of all,  they were obviously making mischief and I wanted to see what they were up to.

Who: Ngöbe-Buglé Children and Their Pet

As soon as I saw them, I knew there were Ngöbe-Buglé, also known as Guaymíes—the local indigenous. They bore a strong resemblance to the children I’d met the day before while volunteering at a local school.

What: Making Mischief or Tormenting a Cat?

The kids were having seemingly innocent fun with their cat. The girl loved to pick it up and squeeze it (and sometime a little bit too hard) while her siblings and cousins laughed. I began to wonder if it was suffering just a tiny bit.

At one point,  I inquired (in Spanish) about what the victim–I mean, cat– might be feeling. I think I gave the kids my “teacher look,” too. Of course, it meant nothing. They simply giggled more and continued to play with (manhandle?) the cat.

Kids n Cat

My Thoughts

The day before, when I volunteered locally, I learned that many Ngöbe kids walk for a hour to school and arrive hungry. Many only get a partial education. Their lives are not easy. I didn’t like watching the cat be manhandled, but I was happy to see the kids having some fun.

Your Thoughts/Experiences?

Do you think these kids took things a little too far with the cat? Did they know they might have been hurting it? Or was it all innocent?

While traveling, do stop and chat with the children you meet? Do you find that they’re more ‘in the moment’ than adults? What kind of mischief have you noticed kids making? Where were you traveling and what were they doing? :)

Ngobe boy

PS: Don’t you just love the look on this boy’s face? I do!

Can’t get enough?

If you enjoyed this, then check out the other Random Travel Moments; vicarious thrills guaranteed no matter where the C Bus stops!

You might also enjoy Trippy Travel Photos–a game I created a while back where readers guess the identity and location of the photo–what the heck it was and where I took it.

19 Responses to Random Travel Moment #3: Indigenous Kids Making Mischief
  1. blair collins
    October 30, 2011 | 11:44 pm

    ….the look? wtf
    …. the cat… lunch 😉

    (lol – sorry) :-)

    • CB Driver
      October 31, 2011 | 10:02 am

      Hi, Blair. Definitely a wtf sort of look. Poor cat.

      As for lunch? Do you mean the cat was worried that he/she would be the kids’ lunch? Or that he/she was thinking about lunch? :)

  2. Shane
    October 31, 2011 | 9:22 am

    Hmm. I’m sure the cat in the photo would have made its feelings clear with its claws if it felt the need.

    When it comes to kids I barely have a grown up adult ‘look’ to give them let alone a teacher one. The few occasions I have felt the need to step in when children seem to be overstepping the mark has usually involved mistreating animals.
    Shane recently posted..Monday Photo: Buenos Aires, ArgentinaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      October 31, 2011 | 10:03 am

      That’s true–that’s where the claws come in!

      A couple times, the cat seemed very uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Anyway, it wasn’t my place, so I just chatted, asked about the cat and had some fun. And so, it was a nice moment.

  3. Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    October 31, 2011 | 12:46 pm

    I am sure it was innocent, but I still side with the poor cat!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Buenos Aires Odd Jobs: The Recycling ProgramMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      October 31, 2011 | 1:32 pm

      Hi, Stephanie. Yeah–me, too. I think the kids were just playing and didn’t realize what they might have been doing.

  4. Maria
    October 31, 2011 | 4:12 pm

    Spitting coffee through the nose – thank gawd it ain’t hot!

    Despite the way in which the cat is being held, looks content in the first photo or maybe it’s eyes are shut to block out the pain?!?
    Maria recently posted..When a Stranger CallsMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      November 2, 2011 | 12:04 am

      Hey, Maria. So glad that coffee wasn’t hot! Good point re: the cat. Not sure which it is. I do recall the cat sort of crying out once or twice during the squeezing, so perhaps it’s the latter. Poor thing… :)

  5. Monica (@thetravelhack)
    November 1, 2011 | 9:39 am

    I agree with Maria, the cat doesn’t seem to be too traumatised and if it was the claws would be straight out!

    • CB Driver
      November 2, 2011 | 12:05 am

      Hi, Maria. Good point re: the claws! Unless…they were removed? Ouch in either case!

  6. Inchirieri Masini
    November 3, 2011 | 8:08 am

    If I’m in Romania, they might be playing in front of an apartment complex, running around, calling each other names and trying to imitate grown-ups. If I’m in England, they might be coming off school, holding one of their parents by their hand while telling them what happened at school during that day.

  7. Laura
    November 4, 2011 | 5:43 am

    Poor cat, it doesn’t seem to enjoy it very much.
    Laura recently posted..Video Of The Day: Solo Hiking Through Iceland & The Psychology Of The Adventure TravelerMy Profile

  8. Laura
    November 4, 2011 | 5:50 am

    Oh, but the cat does have the claws in place, just look at the first picture. Claw removing is a modern invention, and I don’t think this kind of barbaric fashion got to the third world countries yet. I had cats when I was a kid and I used to act just like these kids around my cats and though they didn’t like it, they assumed position every time (you know, like Puss in Boots in Shrek) without complaining much. It was their job to entertain the kid of the family in exchange for food and a warm pillow.
    Laura recently posted..Video Of The Day: Solo Hiking Through Iceland & The Psychology Of The Adventure TravelerMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      November 4, 2011 | 8:40 am

      Hi, Laura. Does the cat have its claws ready? I couldn’t quite tell. Good point re: their removal being a modern invention. I’m sure these indigenous folks could not afford it. I do recall the cat crying out once or twice when the girl squeezed it. They were loving it, but the cat was not, I think.

  9. William Singourd
    November 7, 2011 | 11:14 am

    Very cute shot! & I’ve always found cat’s paw-pads somehow hiliarious! !!!!! !!!!!

    • CB Driver
      November 9, 2011 | 9:43 am

      Hi, William. Thanks–and me, too. I definitely got a chuckle out of it.

  10. Cottages Scotland
    November 17, 2011 | 6:45 am

    “The life of Ngöbe kids is not easy, as is quite visible in the images. But it is good that they are seeking happiness in little things around them. Well, I think they were not deliberately hurting the cat. I have usually seen small boys tying the wings of butterflies with a thread, which is a mischief indeed!

    • CB Driver
      November 19, 2011 | 7:08 am

      I agree that they were not deliberately hurting the cat. I think they were just having fun and the hurting part may have been incidental. True–their lives are not easy. The day before, I volunteered at a local school that the Ngobe attend. Many walked for 1 hour to school and arrived hungry. I felt for them.

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