Gettin’ Mandela Effected



The Panama Canal is back in the news.

Many people have reported being Mandela Effected by the Panama Canal. Many people remember it running from East to West, although as a kid I remember it running from Northeast to Southwest, much like the line in the image above.

In 2006, on the verge of returning to Panama for the first time since 1964, I looked carefully at the map of Panama, which I thought I was more or less familiar with.

How shocked I was to see that the Panama Canal, in this universe, ran from Northwest to Southeast!


Panama was my father’s first foreign service posting in 1962, and I was born shortly thereafter in Gorgas Hospital, named after the guy that helped solve the yellow fever problem.


We left in a hurry in 1964 during the anti-American riot, the big one. Panamanians were rightly pissed off about the overt colonialism, targeting American nationals. According to my parents we abandoned our house in the middle of dinner and hid in a Panamanian’s basement for three days (and were declared missing by a Grand Rapids newspaper). After some intrigue, we were all smuggled into the US Canal Zone, into US territory, and were evacuated.

I’m recounting this because it leads into how I got Mandela Effected (sort of).


A year after the US returned the canal zone to Panama in 2000, I received a very official letter from the Panamanian government. I’m not sure how they tracked down my mother’s address. I was living in Mexico at the time.

I am paraphrasing of course, but in essence the letter said this, translated into Mandela Effect legalese:

“The Panama Canal Zone was never a US territory. In this timeline, in this universe, the Canal Zone has always been a part of the Republic of Panama. You were not born in a US territory (that timeline was bumped into another dimension). You are a Panamanian citizen. You can process this at such and such address…”

And so I did:

WeChat Image_20170620190856

Retroactive nationalization (Back to the Future, or Forward to the Past?)


Oh yeah… That curved building on the right side? Trump Tower. There was talk of renaming it. Not sure what happened with that.




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