Monday, October 16, 2017

Panama Update #2 - Sailing & getting out of the city!

October 15, 2017

hey there folks....from a steamy and wet panama....it is definitely the rainy season these days.....this area has HUGE lightening and thunder storms.... this past week some trees and even a person was hit on our campus....he is okay, but whoa - scary stuff.....the rain is HUGE in these parts....i thought rain was huge in ghana, and they are comparable....but this seems to be more frequent....and the lightening is always happening.....i am hoping to get a picture of it at some point, but of course that is harder said than done....we still have not had a week off here in panama, and do not get one until the second week in november, so this year starts off as a killer....but this past week we were given a special day off.....as panama has for the first time in the country's history, qualified for the world cup in russia next year.....soccer rules the world.....the partying was insane on tuesday night into wednesday....i have never been somewhere when a victory parade was held the night of the big game....the team won, the partying started and the parade was held from midnight to 2am.....i did not go to the parade, because at that point we did not know if we had school or not....but i did go out to one of the main streets after the game was over to see the insanity.....it was a blast :)

we did get a three day weekend in september and so some friends of mine and i rented a sailboat (with a captain and cook) to sail around some of the 300 san blas islands in the carribean of the panamanian coast....it was fantastic and i have some pictures below....i have also decided for my sanity that i need to get out of the city at least once a weekend....preferably in the mornings, as it gets really hot from mid-morning to the late afternoon and then if it storms on top of the heat, it can be pretty crazy....so i also have made it to the second biggest city in panama - colon - and to a quaint town called potro bello and to a lovely little island just off the coast called isla grande.....i am hoping to get to see more of the canal real soon and maybe even take a boat through some of parts of the locks.....plus, i hope to get to an island on the pacific side soon.....and in november, i head to argentina for the week we have off.....yahooooooo

so things are moving along....we just had the end of our first quarter and parent-teacher conferences, so the school year is also moving along....this signals the end of astronomy - boo, but now onto what is science and learning equipment and doing labs - yay!  below are some pictures from the past bit of time here in panama....maybe this will convince some folks to come on down and visit ;)


one of the crazier things we did on a school night, was go see maroon 5 at an outdoor stadium (called the rod carew stadium - for those who know that baseball player, he's from panama)....it was insane because we had the highest bleacher seats....which were covered in bird poop....it was nasty....so no sitting for us....this was the close-up with my camera, so it wasn't too bad, but the sound was not so good....lots of energy though and if there was an easier way to get in and out to this stadium, i would try it again....but the traffic was ridiculous and trying to get a ride back to the city was an adventure...it was good that my friend carla was with me and that she is as friendly as me and knows spanish....that was our ticket for success....but hey, you never know how it will go until you try....one and done for a concert on a school night at this particular stadium....


this is  a shot of the middle school crew one friday happy hour...mostly women and lots of fun :) a great group of people, who care about what they do and the students they teach.....many have been at the school for quite a long time....so you know they are passionate about what they do!


this is the sailing crew from the three-day weekend.....this is the water taxi that took us out to the sailboat....this was after we had been picked up at 5am....yes, you read that correctly, and had to take one of the curviest, vertical at points road for an hour....it was insane.....but oh so worth it!


the food on the boat was all you could catch....it was/is lobster season in the carribean....yummy....this was our first dinner....there is shot below on how things were caught by the captain and the cook....it was awesome....they caught dinner...and we snorkeled around.....



this is captain benjamin spearing a barracuda....which we then had for a tasty ceviche lunch....more on that in a minute....as you can see, the water is sparkling and clear....it is like the waters you see on screen savers of computers.....the islands are like that as well in many cases....no people, white sand, palm tress and lovely reefs surrounding them....


here is captain benjamin again.... a 23-year-old frenchman, who has lived most of his life in Venezuela and on a boat....he is holding the flag of panama out for all to see....with one of those tiny palm tree filled islands we saw all over san blas....it was spectacular....


this was our special birthday island....we swam to this from the boat, and then they delivered a ceviche and beer snack for us to enjoy....this island is known as the japanese garden....and yes, this is the whole island....what a cool place to have a birthday fiesta....inflatable flamingos and dolphin included :)

and this was just the beginning of the celebration....we actually got to sail to the next island after this one and had a blast dancing along with the wind and music....the ceviche in this picture above was made from the barracuda caught earlier....done two different ways....the traditional way with lots of lime - and this is what "cooks" the fish....and the other way which was sushi style with soy sauce and sesame....yummy....what a birthday treat to start!


we also picked up these crazy pirate glasses and captain glasses for us and the crew....just some fun party favors....this is shawn with the cook, morracho - also known as pitbull ;) and the captain benjamin....they loved having us and our party on-board!


and here are the four of us....the captain and his three pirates on our island for the birthday festivities....it was a blast hanging with this crew in san blas....a beautiful, unspoiled place for the most part....the perfect spot to kick off exploration of panama :)


one last sunset shot from the boat of one of those tiny, palm tree filled, surrounded by sand and reef islands....yep...it was picture perfect :)


i finally made it to the panama sign along the cinta de costera....which some refer to as a corniche or a promenade....it goes along the southern part of the city and lets you look out to where ships are waiting to enter the pacific side of the canal.....there is a long walk out to the causeway....which i am hoping to do when it cools down a bit...but i finally got my walk in along the cinta.....


one of the other towns i have visited now is porto bello....a quiet, sea-side place where two forts were set up to protect panama from the british and french a long time ago....this was the way into land before the canal was created....plus, this has been a place where drug runners have been for ages....so the brits and the french would wait outside of this town and sink ships....even today the DEA stakes itself out here sometimes for the aforementioned drug runners.....interestingly panama is a huge dumping point for drugs and cash.....as we are the country next to colombia and everyone must pass it to get to the states and mexico....who knew???? not me....


in porto bello they have a cristo negro (black christ) in their church....the big celebration for him is next weekend....i have been told the worshipers will come from far and near to see the cristo negro....the reason this cristo negro is so revered is because he was thrown out to sea three separate times by the governor of the region and each of those times returned.....the people asked if he came back the third time, could they keep him....and the governor said yes....he came back and is now worshiped in this church....i love all of the candles.....


however, the mary in this church was much more intriguing to me....she is like a mannequin from a department store...not very elegant and dangling from her wrist is a set of handcuffs....something i have never seen on a mary before....when i asked about his, i was reminded how many drug runners come through here, and was told that many families have members that join those drug runners and then end up in jail....the people of this town have decided that mary needs to watch over all of the incarcerated....the priest removes the handcuffs every month, but the parishioners replace them when he has removed them.....interesting to say the least.....


from porto bello we kept going up the coast to an island known as isla grande....you have to take a speed boat over and no cars are on this island....one of the biggest drug lords of colombia has a house just across from this island and in the water is a negro jesus to watch over the boats traveling through here....it is a wild to see the jesus, with this amazing mansion behind it....it even has a helicopter pad attached....crazy....

i just wanted to post a picture of what isla grande looks like....beautiful sand, lovely water and we had amazing blue skies....it was hot, but the isla was terrific.....i hope to go back for a longer stint...and have heard there are some nice places on the "other side" of the island....just means more to explore....


due to all of the seafood here, i have started to put some fish and shellfish back into my veggie diet....i mean how can you say no to fresh caught baby lobster....yum!!!!


this was our view as we were crossing back over the to mainland side....before we hit all of the traffic coming back into panama city....i have to say, that is probably one of the worst things about panama....the traffic...it never disappears because this city never planned ahead and thought it would get this big....traffic rules my weekday and sometimes my weekend....its a bummer and i have to drive to work....definitely different from many of my most recent international school experiences.....


and here is one of the celebration shots from tuesday night's win against costa rica that guarantees panama is in the soccer world cup in russia....even in celebration, it's all about the traffic....this shot was taken before the celebratory parade down this same street a few hours later....it was just insane in this city!!! and because all of my other countries of residence are not going....i will be cheering on panama!!!!


one last shot for you to enjoy....or for me to enjoy ;) oktoberfest is something that even happens in panama....this is a shot from the oktoberfest here....they brought in beers from all over the world for us to taste, so a good time was had by all....myself included....

so there you have it....update number 2 from my country of residence now...i am official and have a residence card and even a panamanian driver's license.....crazy the way it all comes together....i am hoping to get another update out before i head to argentina....but am not sure it will happen....if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch and for all of those experiencing fall....please enjoy the color change and the temperature change for me....i am missing both of them this year!!!! i hope you enjoyed this update and thanks as always for reading!!!!

have a fab day :)
dani

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Panama Update #1 - getting life together here!!!

September 4, 2017

hey there folks.....well, life here in central america is finally coming together.....sorry it has taken me so long to get in touch with all of you....but it has been a very busy six weeks of organizing life and we have already finished four weeks (yes....a whole month!!!) of classes.....i am no longer living in a hotel room....and i am loving my apartment, especially the pool....i have a car, although at the moment it is in the shop getting organized and ready for me to drive.....i have adapted to being back in a classroom and am loving that aspect of my job.....i have kids from all over the world, all though the majority are from north america, central america and south america......but it feels good to be back in an environment i know and love....an international school!!!! yay!!!!

panama city is a very interesting place......it definitely pulled one over on me the night i arrived....lots and lots of high rises made me think it was a HUGE city....and it is not....i do like all of the buildings and that it is easy to get from one side to the other of this place.....there is a metro line, but i have not used it yet....and uber is definitely alive and well here.....it is what i normally use to go out and come home....but for the most part i am loving being in a walk-able city, that as a bunch to offer.....from restaurants to bars to movies to an amazing waterfront walk......and green space is just a stones throw away....

another thing that has been quite surprising is the amount of rain and of storms we have here....i do not think a day has gone by without lightening....and when that happens there is very loud thunder....i need to see if panama city is a hot spot for thunder and lightening.....because it sure seems like it....watching it off my balcony is one of my favorite things.....the storms also keep every thing quite moist....so you have to be very careful of mold growing literally every where....the amount of moisture in the air has been incredible.....temperature has fluctuated, but i am definitely back in the tropics....hence why i love the pool sooooooooo much.....

this is going to be a quick update....as i still need to get ready for school tomorrow....but i really feel like i needed to let you know i am well and happy and adjusting....i might be headed out to go diving or go to the beach next weekend....which i am greatly anticipating....need to get out of the sticky city....although, you really do not have to travel far to get to green rain forest....which is nice.....and the flora and fauna has been fun to check out.....very different from northeast pennsylvania....i have already had one trip to the rain forest....where we saw macaws. toucans, a sloth, parrots and heard howler monkeys....

onto the pictures.....and thanks for reading and checking in on me....one last thing....some people have asked if they can mail me cards or things....and unfortunately the answer to that question is NO!!!! panama actually does not have a mail system....so literally nothing gets mailed here unless you use a specialty service.....it is wild....only way things get mailed out is if someone is leaving the country and can send it from the country they are headed to....simply mind-blowing!!!!  so thanks in advance for the attempts to keep in touch via snail mail, but really nothing will make it to me....sorry :( plus, i am not sure how often i will get the chance to send postcards.....so just know i am thinking of you!!!!



when i first got to panama in the middle of july, we had our orientation at the marriott in town, which is also where we lived until we found apartments to live in....i have never been given this option of finding my own place to live in....i have to say i am not a huge fan of this.....just give me an apartment a previous teacher has lived in, in the area i am most interested in, with colleagues located close by....it took a lot of time, effort and i lost two apartments before i got the one i am currently living, which i really like....but while we were at the marriott we were given the royal treatment, including this cute box filled with sweets....welcome to panama.....



the picture above is how we were greeted as new faculty at the school the first day we arrived.....every one of the staff and faculty that was on campus came out to greet us and made us feel like rock stars....a wonderful welcome!!!!  and now i am an ISP dolphin....it was a lovely way to welcome us to the school.....



a HUGE selling point for the school is a brand new, FIFA approved soccer field....not only for our teams, but it is used continually by surrounding neighborhoods and league teams here....yesterday there was a huge under 18 tournament.....so its cool because it is good for the school and good for the community!!!!



one aspect of panama that reminds me a bit of asia is the mall and the crazy things in the mall...they are like ghana because many stores are really small and have very little in them....but then the art and statues and food courts remind me of asia and the states....and then there are the people there for the air conditioning and to get out of the storms.....but there are also huge stores like those in the states and overseas....but with different names of course....but there is definitely no target.....penguins in panama.....yeah right.....but i found these guys ;)  in the mall.....



here we are at one of the food courts....you probably recognize some of these names....and i have to say, i think i have found all of the fast food from the states....from mcdonalds to kfc to taco bell to little ceasars....we even have chuck e cheese.....at times i look around and wonder just where i am, as a lot of it is very states oriented.....



there are quite a few large parks in panama city....although many of them are being refurbished...including the one closest to my place....and once again i am living close to a statue of einstein....living close to a famous scientist statue also happened in china and croatia as well.....just wild :) but at the moment the einstein head is covered in plastic....but i am excited for when i finally do see it....



there is one older section of town called casco viejo (means old town in spanish)....and the next few shots are from down in that area....there are still cobbled-stone streets and tons of renovation....this is one of the main plazas in this part of town, called plaza herrera....the statue is general tomas herrera...he was the first president of the free state of panama.....in 1840....it only lasted 13 months and then panama was back as part of colombia....



they are definitely working on this part of panama city....and sometimes you see old facades of buildings with nothing really left inside of them.....this particular building, and old church, is being left this way....an outdoor courtyard....this the remains of the church and convent of the society of jesus....it was founded in 1578 by a jesuit priest....it is a lovely building....


because casco viejo gets a lot of tourists....there is a lot available to buy in this section of town for tourists....lots of bold colors and fabrics here....although, they are very different from the bold fabrics of africa....you just know you are in a latin country from their crafts....more on these in a later update, when i actually buy some or go see how they are made :)



of course, no first update would be complete without some shots from the panama canal....i have been to the older set of locks, which you see above, but thus far have not made it to the bigger, newer set....as they are a bit farther away from the city.....the school took us to the mira flores locks for a dinner to welcome up to this country....it was a blast....the boat in the picture above is headed to the pacific ocean....and is in the second to last set of locks in this section of the older locks....



one of the coolest things i learned, is that the ships may not use their own engines while going through the locks....they are maneuvered through by tug boats and little trains along the canal locks themselves....you can see one of the trains in the shot above....as two large tankers are coming through.....the orange is headed to the pacific and the black one is headed to the carribean....



in this shot, you can see that the locks have closed and that the water on the right side is much higher than that on the left side....the engineering behind this system is amazing....and although it is fully automated....there are people working along side the entire set up....



my last shot from the canal was taken a bit farther up the locks....what is also very interesting is that there are bodies of water between the different sets of the locks,,,,and this is where the tugboats do their thing...what is also cool is that every ship must sail the panamanian flag while going through the locks, because the tugboats are all panamanian....



this is another shot of caco viejo from a balcony of an apartment i was taken to see....you can actually have a view of the waterway into the panama canal....but i made the decision that i did not need to live in a high-rise along this strip....the neighborhood definitely does not have as much character as mine....but it sure has a nice view!!!!



one of the stops we made in our exploration of the area around panama city was at a park that was set up to help rehabilitate animals that have been injured or "abandoned" by parents....one of the animals on exhibit was a harpy eagle....the bird in the picture with me....this is the national bird of panama....so it was cool to be able to see one up close and personal....


flowers and insects here have impressive thus far....some really huge cockroaches in my classroom....bleh.....lots of lizards around as well.....and many, many, many pretty butterflies...as i am typing i keep thinking of the names of these animals in my head in spanish for practice, as i am taking spanish lessons....as it is something you should have if you are living here.....


we stopped at the rehab park on the way to the gamboa rainforest....where it rained...BIG TIME!!!! luckily it stopped early enough for us to be able to take a cable car to a viewing platform above the canopy....but here you can literally see the "cloud forest" aspect in this part of panama.....


here i am at the top of the viewing platform (go team croatia!!!!) in the rain forest....behind me is part of the panama canal....the canal is huge...and now has two pathways ships can take...big and bigger....the canal makes tons of revenue for panama...and it very impressive...more on it in a future update :)


so this is a shot of most of the newbies in my cohort at the rehab park...there is a lot of teaching power in this picture....cool and interesting folks who have been all over the world and the states....good people as we say.....go dolphins!!!!


one of the best things about being back in latin america.....ceviche!!!! plus, here in panama, like in ecuador....they eat it with yucca....yahooooo!!!!! in this shot you can see three different types of ceviche.....which is perfect for a sunday lunch at the fish market....ceviche is a raw fish dish which lime is added to, so that it is cooked by the citrus.....sooooooo tasty and full of flavor :)


and of course i had to end the first update from my new country of residence with a beer flight....this is from my local happy hour pub just down the street from my house.....la rana dorada....which means the gold frog.....most of the beer here in panama is light in color and not so bold in taste....but this pub brews their own....and they have a porter!!!!! yahoo.....there are a few other brew pubs in the area, but i have not had the chance to make it to them yet.....salud!!!!!

so there you have it....my first update from panama....thanks for sticking with me to the end....and consider this your invitation to come on down for a visit....only a 2.5 hour flight from fort lauderdale, fl....easy access to the pacific ocean and the caribbean sea....you can actually swim in both within the span of a day....and of course the panama canal....an engineering wonder every one should see at least once....if you have any questions....feel free to get in touch and hopefully my next update will be out in the next month....i have a boat trip for a couple of days in the next month and am hoping to go diving and hit a few beaches....i'll keep ya posted.....

hope all is well for you and happy beginning of school to all of my friends who teach....all of my friends with kids and all of my past students....good luck, have fun, drink water!!!!

peace out....dani


Thursday, July 13, 2017

North American Update #4

July 13th, 2017

well, my year adventure in the states is coming to a close and for those who do not know, i am off to teach internationally again....this time in panama!!! at the International School of Panama - ISP -  (to watch a fly-over of the campus - check out this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4aL31-S02U)....i fly in less than a week and am very excited about this new chapter.....but first a bit about the chapter that is closing.....

what a year here in the states....it was been a gift to be able to spend time with family and friends here in pennsylvania and i am forever grateful that i had this time, especially with my parents....has it been challenging...of course, but would i trade it for something else....no way!!!! i have once again learned a lot about myself and where i am from....and have realized it is a difficult task to go home, as things are never as they were....but some things are better and some are not, and that is a good thing to know....

i have enjoyed my time here in the states and am extremely happy to have taken advantage of the live music, theater and art here, as the diversity you can find in the states is not found all over the world.....i would also say, living in the states is "easy"for someone like me....expensive, but easy...conveniences around every corner and customer service really is not like in other countries i have lived in.....living here this past year has given me insight and has made me realize that it is a wonderful place.....although, i have also realized i do not fit in as well as i once did, and i am not sure i ever will again.....things are many times too easy, and people really do have "first world" problems....i understand that it is not like this for everyone in all places of the states and that i lead a privileged life, but i have been surprised with the amount of stuff people have and how many are in search of bigger, better, faster....i can't afford that, nor do i want to live like that....but again, it has been a privilege to live here again with my parents and experience a wonderful life in the states....but i know it is time for me to move on and do what i gotta do in the world..... 

so enough of the deep thought stuff......on with the pictures of the fun stuff i have been doing since last february....many things have come and gone and a bunch of things have changed for my family....but overall it has been a terrific ride and for that i am grateful :) bring on the pictures.....


much of my life has revolved around working for science explorers....a relationship i started over 14 years ago....it is an amazing company that does hands-on science for elementary school aged kids....and it is fun!!! this picture is of some of the most important folks of that company....and the two women on the left helped save my life this year......so if you don't know anything about this company....look them up and if you are looking to donate money to a good cause....look them up!!! it is a grass-roots, woman-owned company of science!!!!!! go science explorers, go!!!!


the team you see here is part of the non-profit group of science explorers known as sparks.....i got to travel and teach with these intelligent, beer-drinkin', family-lovin', crazy women all over pennsylvania, new jersey and to tulsa, ok....the sky-line you see in the background is tulsa....what an interesting place.....they work in classrooms with kids and teachers, bringing hands-on science to schools in need.....again, think about donating and helping kids get the science they both deserve and need here in the states!!!!
 

as i stated above, one of the best things about living in the states is getting to see theater, live music, art and dance....which i really tried to take advantage of and be diversified in what i chose to see, as there are so many options....this play was one of my favorite experiences....what an incredible stage and the lead actor was simply brilliant....if you have not read this book or have not seen this show and are interested in how someone with autism may react to the world around them and how they see the world (at least from this one person's perspective), i highly recommend it!!!! mind-blowing to say the least....both in written form and production form!
 

another top show i got to see was brain candy with adam savage from myth busters and michael stevens from the youtube channel vsauce.....both of which i use in my science classes to help explain all manners of concepts....these two gentlemen were funny and really had a blast on the stage during their show....it was all about air pressure....and they would discuss a concept and then do a hands-on demonstration that would get bigger and bigger about the concept they were presenting....a science show at its best......it was amazing!!!!


while here in the states i also checked out some history right here in philly and took a friend to the liberty bell and independence hall....i hadn't been there in a long time....so it was good to remember the history of how our country was started....especially during this wild and crazy political time of our current day.....i will not go down this path, but it has been surprising year to me.....let's just leave it at that.....if you wish to ask for more discourse, i would ask that you send me a note....thanks :)
 

the other amazing & historical thing i got to do was visit my friend sean at NASA, goddard.....why was it so historical???? well, i got to see and experience up close the james webb telescope...it was incredible to see it this close....what you see behind us is the main part of the scope, that will hold the dish used to catch the information being sent its way....this will be a space telescope, meaning it will not be on the earth.....there are soooooooo many things that needed to be tested to make sure it could withstand all of the issues of being operated in space and especially at the distance it will be from earth.....nearly one million miles away.....so no fixing this with the ISS.....it will be on its own....i love that it is a joint creation of the ESA  (European Space Agency) and the CSA (Canadian Space Agency) and NASA....good to see these programs working together.....and the information it will provide will be incredible i am sure.....this is the week before it left goddard to head to houston for more testing.....later this year, it will pass through the panama canal to get to its launching site, so i just might catch it again before it launches......
 

this is a view looking at the front of the mirror and where it will be collecting infrared data about the universe.....which scientists hope to use to learn more about what they don't already know...hopefully learning more about dark matter and especially what our universe started from, etc....very cool stuff :) the mirror itself is 6.5 meters (just over 21 feet) in diameter and it folds up like origami because it is comprised of 18 segments (why it looks like a bee hive).....waaaaaaaaay cool!!!!
 

this is a shot of sherise, myself and sean in the secondary mirror that will catch everything from the primary mirror (the bee hive) and send the information into the instruments behind the primary mirror....there is a tertiary mirror as well.....but it is on the inside and i could not see it....this mirror is made of beryllium and is coated in gold to help withstand the ridiculous cold temperatures in deep space....
 

of course while i was at NASA, i needed to take a picture with the NASA insignia, also known as the meatball....as most people know, my life goal is to live on every continent for six months or more (australia is the only one left to live on) and then my plan is to go to space....i realize i am getting older, but it is all part of the plan :) what an amazing visit.....
 

while at goddard, we also got to meet camille the sqwaking chicken....who is camille you might ask??? well, she is the representative that travels with scientists when they do school visits about the many of the satellites in space around earth collecting data....the scientists have found that the kids are willing to ask camille questions they would not ask the scientists....she is an important part of NASA's presentation to the younger set :)


i also made it up to NYC a few times during my stay here in the states for the year....and of course i needed to go to the statue of the "fearless girl" in front of the "charging bull" of wall street....the area around her was packed with people taking pictures of both statues....i hope she gets to stay up for the year that has been promised.....i know it irks the artist who made the bull, but i am thinking he is having more visitors to his statue because of this added bonus...granted it may not be the publicity the original artist wanted, but there certainly were a lot of folks taking pictures of both statues....
 

of course i also visited the 9/11 museum....and if you have never been, and were not living in NYC for the events of that day, i would highly recommend you go and see the museum....but plan for a difficult day....the amount of material in that museum is incredible and at times overwhelming....just the room where they honor the fallen folks is incredible and so very sad....but it really is a well done memorial.....i have spoken to friends of mine who were living in NYC during 9/11 and most who have been to the museum say it is not really for them, but instead for those who were not living there at the time....this is on the outside of the memorial building....
 

i loved this wall....as these squares represent every person who lost their lives on that date....and it was created by an artist who remarked on how blue the sky was before the horrible actions of the day took place....each square represents a different shade of blue for the sky as it was seen by people in and around NYC....just very moving....
 

another big moment for me this past spring was the march for science in DC on Earth Day!!! if you saw any of the coverage of that day, you will know that it rained and rained and rained....the whole time...but that really did not dampen the mood of the participants or performers....it was a day i really enjoyed....from hanging with friends and from reading very well written protest signs....i am so glad i went to show my support for science.....i think the thing i really liked was that it was stated multiple times, over and over, that science is not partisan....it's just the search for the answers to the multitudes of questions posed about everything on the planet....go science!!!!
 

here we are, diane, tracy and i, getting ready to head to the rally and march for science.....what an amazing day and i am so happy i could be involved for something i am passionate about....go science!!!!
 

of course while in the states, you should always attend a game of the american past time - baseball!!!! i have no idea if you follow the sport, but if so, you know that the philadelphia phillies are having a horrible year....but there really is something about going to a game and watching it....whether your team is winning or losing ;) love this ballpark!!!
 

one of the crazy things that happened in the past few months here in the states was that my uncle, my mom's brother, had a stroke.....let's just say he was not prepared for this in any way....so my first comment is, no matter your age or family or health or history, make sure to have things in order so your family does not need to go through hell to make sure you are taken care of....my uncle did not pass away, thank goodness, but he is now paralyzed on one side of his body and cannot speak....but my mom has been organizing his life since the stroke occurred....and it has been a crazy, ridiculous, annoying puzzle...probably more crazy than most....but one of the things we got to do was clean up a property right on the coast of florida.....and due to location...my, what a sunset we got to experience....so once again, just be sure to have things in order so your family is not left with a mess of things to work through!!!!
 

above is a shot of the entire science explorers crew....we had a team building day of fun reminders why the company is so strong and so necessary for education of science....what a great mix of passionate, hard-working folks....again....thanks to them for helping me make it through this crazy year here in the states...
 

one of the fun things i got to do for science explorers was help instructors get ready for summer camps...one of the things we had to prep them for was dissection....we dissect squid, sharks, horseshoe crabs and other sea creatures...so i was lucky and got in my yearly dissection, even though i was not teaching middle school science....fun, fun, fun!!! and for those who are wondering....yes, i tye-dyed my own shirt :) go science, go!!!
 

and then it was time to pack my things for panama....for those who have not done this before...it is a crazy dance of what you think you will need, but can live without for the next three months while your stuff is in transit to your new residence....keeping in mind what you need to get through the time remaining in your current residence and for work and life in your new residence and you have to be able to fit the stuff not going in the shipment into your luggage for the plane... if you have never done this, it is a skill you learn over time...and i feel i have gotten quite good at it, but feel i might have a bit too much stuff....maybe i will pair that down even more for the next time....hopefully the stuff will make it to me about a month after i arrive in panama....fingers crossed customs is smooth and easy....



two of my favorite things i did over the last month were go to some amazing concerts....i saw the grateful dead for my 25th show, with good friends....and i went and saw the joshua tree tour of U2....two very different shows ;) but both incredible for different reasons....the dead is like returning to an old friend's house and chillin' with good people....this tour for u2 is like returning to my past of 30 years ago, when i used to buy and listen to whole albums of musicians....the crowd knew every word for both shows, but what different crowds they were....again i will say, i don't think there is anywhere in the world that gets as many diverse shows as the states....and i am fortunate to live near a good sized city that gets amazing music, theater, dance and art exhibits.....go, support the arts in your town!!!!


i also got the chance to see the work of a hometown artist for the area i am from....andrew wyeth....at the moment the brandywine river museum is honoring this artist....plus, we got to visit his studio....he mainly did his art using egg tempera paints, which is where you mix eggs whites with powdered paints...and funnily enough, in his studio is an egg carton from a local store called wawa....i really think wawa should use this in their advertising....this is another aspect of the area i live in that i will miss....wawa....for those who do not know....this IS the best convenience store in the world....and "wawa" stands not only for the name of the town where the original dairy was, but also for the native lenni lenape american word for "goose"....which if you look at the logo of wawa...you will see a yellow goose in the middle.....i will miss wawa....


  
one more picture of my most excellent friends tracy and jen....these are the women who run science explorers and i have known them for more than 14 years....they really helped me out this year and i wish them nothing but success and happiness in the coming years....and i know our friendship will stand the test of time....thank you both :)
 

and of course the people that make it all possible.....my parents...and for those who have never seen him....this is my brother...tony....we are definitely not mistake-able as family....but it has been a terrific year of getting time to be together....and i thank my folks for everything they have given me and with how much they support my very different and varied life from most people.....it is because of them that i can successfully do what i do and live where i live in the world...thanks mom and dad....
 

and of course, last but not least, i send out a flight of "cheers" to you....be sure to look people in the eye when you "cheers" by the way.....one of the other things i will really miss about the states is the variety of beer here....i have had my fun having flights in many different brew pubs and am amazed at how many different options there are here in the states....just, wow!!!! so...."cheers" to you!!!!

there you have it....the last few months of my time here in the states....so many fun adventures and experiences and with so many different and fun people.....for those i re-connected with...thanks for supporting me and being involved in my life....to new friends....thanks for coming along for the ride....what a year it has been....i am appreciative of the time i have had here in the states, but do look forward for the next adventure.....and hopefully, you will come along for the ride....on to central america (a place i have never been by the way) i go....consider this an invitation to visit panama for the next few years.....just give me a heads up if you come my way, as there should be a guest room with your name on it!!!! i am very excited to get back to working with middle schoolers in science, within an internationally minded community, in a new and challenging setting.....i am not really looking forward to the heat again, but know that snow and cooler temperatures are just a plane ride away....

again, as always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch....and hopefully with my move i will be writing the blog updates with a bit more frequency.....thanks as always for reading my words and i hope you have a wonderful rest of your summer/winter....

peace out....and have a fab day :)
dani