Sunday, February 04, 2018

Panama Update #4 - checking things out here in Panama

2/4/2018

hi there folks and happy super bowl sunday from panama.....i am trying to get another update out, as once again i have fallen behind....and this seems like a perfect way to distract myself until its closer to game time and i am headed out for a super bowl party....before we go any further....i just have to say how nice it is to be able to watch the game in "real time"....not at 3 in the morning, like we had to in ghana....or the next morning or even next evening, like we did in shanghai....this time it's live for me...and very real, as my hometown team, the eagles are playing....not asking for smack talk from anyone....just saying fly eagles, fly!!!!

so as my time here in panama is getting longer, i have been trying to get out of the city more....at least one day of the weekend, as there is so much to see and do in this tiny country.....plus, it seems that more people are excited to come visit me here, as it seems very doable, yet rather expensive, from the states....so i want to give you pointers of what to do in this country i live in....all of that being said...consider this another invite to come on down to latin america.....just be sure to check in and let me know your thoughts before you buy your tickets.....i would welcome you graciously, as long as i am here and not super swamped with school stuff.....

now, back to panama....well...we have finally hit the dry season, i think....it started about a month later than normal from what every one here says.....but these days are mostly dry and rather hot....but there is usually a great breeze coming from the trade winds i have been told....i love sitting on my balcony these days before school, having breakfast and enjoying the trade winds....a slice of heaven....mornings and evenings are a bit cooler than before, but the days are hotter due to it being sunny and dry...not as humid now though....which i greatly appreciate....perfect pool weather.....

so here are some of the adventures i had before christmas break...plus, two pictures from my xmas gift of a trip to see the eagles play with my brother from santa...it wasn't a pretty game by any means, but we won!!!!! so exciting to be there....enjoy the pictures and as always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me....on with update #4


this first shot is from my balcony at sunset...i have to say that i have a pretty awesome view of the sunset and the sky here in panama does not disappoint....especially during the rainy season....pretty spectacular!!!!


this is a shot of a beach on the pacific side of the country...looks pretty nice, doesn't it....we arrived during low tide and there was a lot of beach available for us to walk up and down....but as i was walking i was trying to figure out why there were not more places with beach huts for tourists and why houses had walls that were like 10-20 feet/3-7 meters tall....i found out about 4 hours later when the tide started coming in.....


here is the same wall four hours later as the tide came in....check out the stormy-ness of the sky and look at that wave slam into that wall...it was crazy how fast the tide came and how high it came up the beach....no walking during high tide....since coming here i have done some research on it and there is only one other place that has such a high tide fluctuation as panama....some days there can be a 20 foot/7 meter difference in low and high tide....this is really a big difference from the atlantic/caribbean side....and was one of the main challenges tackled when building the panama canal.....very cool....


we did not have a halloween per se....but we did have a super heroes and super villains day...as you can see...i was one of the ghost busters....trying to rid the school of super villains....not that cathy was one...but this one of the best shots we took....all credit goes to carla for getting these amazing costumes together....so much fun...


in november i was really lucky to get hooked up with a NOAA ship that was making its way through the canal and scored a quick tour on the boat....this is me at mission control of the okeanos explorer....one of NOAA's research vessels that you can always follow....they had been mapping the ocean floor in hawaii, but were coming back to the states to get some work done....and had to pass through the panama canal to do so....lucky me....


this is the ship from the dock....it is a research vessel and the sailors all got a few free days in panama to go explore....i got to hang out with the captain and get a tour of this very cool research vessel....


docked right next door was a japanese vessel that was off-loading flash-frozen tuna from japan....to be sold all over panama as sushi and such....it took them nine hours to off-load all of the tuna they brought....and each tuna was as tall as the man standing on the truck...wild...


while on the ship and on the dock i got to see the bridge of the americas from a very different angle....i have traveled over this bridge to get to different places down the pacific side of the country and i have seen it from each end....but this is the direction to see the cargo ships heading toward the canal from the pacific ocean....as you can see, i got to take a shot of one of the big cargo ships coming up to go across the canal....these things are enormous!!!!!!


november here in panama is a very busy month....it is called the month of state-hood or patriotism....mes de patria....because this is the month panama was liberated multiple times from other countries who were in charge here....the colombians, the spanish, another group that took over a huge chunk of latin america....so it is a month of festivals....here you can see some of the kids from school dancing some of the traditional dances in traditional dress....i love this shot because of the smiling 8th grader who is second in line....middle schoolers usually do not show such emotion at a school function...so it made me happy to see this....


the shot above was the closer for our presentation and is a great representation of what is happening over the next two weeks here in panama....carinvale....the parties started just last night....queens and floats and bands....and water fights everywhere....this is what carnival/mardi gras seems to mean here...i am hoping to see some of this stuff over the next week and into saturday of next weekend....hopefully i do not get drenched....


this is shot of some of my colleagues who performed in the fiesta de patria...love the costumes and traditions...all lovely people :)


during the month of november there were panamanian flags everywhere....one school even decorated their entire front field with panamanian flags....it is a month of patriotism to the highest degree....which was a pleasure to see and experience....


one of the other places i finally made it to was the biomuseum here in panama city....i went with the STEM class, so we only looked at the structure from the outside....and then i sang here with the choir i was a part of for our christmas concert....an impressive frank gehry building that was opened in 2014....it is still being completed inside....the outside of the building is to represent the diveristy of colors and life found in panama....gehry's wife is panamanian and it is said he created this museum for the love of this country and his wife...i still have not seen most of the exhibits....but am hoping to sometime this semester....


on our way to the pacific beaches one time, we stopped to take a picture of the chinese gate, which is on one side of the bridge of the americas....this gate represents 150 years that chinese people have been here in panama....many chinese helped build the canal and many stayed when it was completed to have families here....there is quite a strong chinese presence here in panama...and has been for a very long time....


just one of the many beaches i have now been to down the pacific coast....lovely sand...and no real threat from the tides here...as there is quite a big beach in this section and no walls/cliffs along the water's edge....it was a wonderful day and coconuts were enjoyed :)


people have asked just how much rain we get here in panama....and my response is a lot!!!! i think we had only 10 non-rainy days from when i got here in july to when i left in december....and it really wasn't until 2 weeks ago that it stopped raining as much....the shot above is showing you just how much rain is pouring off the red roof...look at the stream between the red and aqua colored buildings....it is just amazing...as are the thunder and lightening.....


at the beginning of december i headed to new orleans for a weekend of science teaching training....i had not been in NOLA since the Y2K new years party i went to...it was wild being back...plus, i was lucky and got to see bourbon street all decorated for xmas....loved it....and the training wasn't bad either ;)


on my way back into panama city from new orleans, i got a phenomenal view of the city i live in....people have no idea just what the skyline looks like....so i took this shot from my window seat on the plane....lots of tall buildings here....


another weekend trip i made in december was to an island here in panama in the pacific ocean with my friend and past colleague, cat...as she came to visit...it was actually me and the four canucks traveling together....in the background on the left side you can see the catamaran we took from the city out to this island, called contadora....its about a 2 hour ride....very choppy...


this was the beach we came in on....as you can see in the distance...still the rainy season...but lots of fun anyway....the sun was out every day for a bit...so that was a plus....


a bucharest reunion....we realized we had not seen each other since our xmas trip to israel....but like many friends, we just picked up where we left off from....it was a great long weekend of fun and i was so excited cat came to visit....


this island has been used for the show survivor....actually many of these islands in the area have been...they are the shows that deal with the pearl islands....this one was featured in the 2007 season....or so someone in our group thought....having never seen survivor, i was no help...on this island was a demolished casino/resort that used to be one of the best here in panama...it was owned by a colombian drug lord, who was shot out of the sky in his plane about 7 years ago....since then his widow has done nothing with the place....so people have ransacked for anything worth money...leaving behind this shell....which we drove through with our golf cart....too much fun....


here you can see a shot of the canucks....and the backdrop from the fire pit where the tribal council had occurred during survivor when it was here...i cannot say i was as excited about this stuff as other members of our group....but it was cool to see them get excited....


these next two shots are from the xmas day game of the eagles vs the raiders....a repeat of the previous super bowl the eagles were in....except this time the eagles won...foreshadowing???? i hope so....

this is me and my brother before the game, where our seats were located....yes...it was cold....yes...it was amazing....yes....the eagles won!!!! and now i need to go prep for the super bowl....fly eagles, fly!!!


of course i had to end with my traditional shot....this is me, chillin' with a local panamanian beer, balboa, on contadora....after a rough day of playing at the beach....woot!!! this is the life....so i hope you have enjoyed this slice of panama and the eagles....next update will contain more panama sites and possible some things from my next trip....next week....to roatan, honduras....where i am hoping to get my re-cert for diving and relax and enjoy the time at the beach....

off i head to watch the super bowl and cheer on the eagles from panama with a bunch of like-minded folks....i hope you enjoyed this update and remember, if you have any questions, shoot them my way...i am hoping that the next update i send out, the eagles will have won and you will have had a great adventure of your own....until then....

peace out....
dani

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Panama Update #3 - Don't cry for me Argentina!!!!

December 31, 2017

hi there all...and happy new year's eve!!!! i am finally getting the chance to catch up on my blog after a crazy finish to my first semester at the international school of panama.....i am now in the states chillin' with my family and friends and tryin' to catch up on the back log of things...including writing my update....so here is my apology and my hope that the next update comes out sooner, rather than later....i am hopeful that i will do it while i am still in the states this break....but that might be hopin' for a bit too much....

anyway....the second half of the semester flew by...one of the coolest things i did was spend a week in beautiful argentina with two friends of mine from panama....we also hooked up with a friend of mine from ghana who lives and works there now....we spent time in both buenos aires and mendoza (the wine region) and i have found another "b" city in the world i simply love (think budapest, berlin, barcelona, beijing, etc)....let's get on with the adventure and pictures that were....and i hope you enjoy what you see as much as i enjoyed livin' it!!!!



so one of the first stops we made in this amazing town was the cemetery....specifically the recoleta cemetery....which on the day we went was spectacular....this cemetery is all mausoleums....so all crypts above ground...and the artwork of these mausoleums speaks for itself in the pictures....in the shot above you can see the gorgeous day we had (with no humidity!!!! a huge welcome from panama!) and that the red plant in the foreground is actually a poinsettia tree....perfect for the holiday season we are all in at the moment.....


i love this shot....if you zoom in and focus on the black spot in center of this image, you can see that it is a nun in her habit walking through the mausoleums.....she was also with a priest and some other folks....i was hoping to get them both with this backdrop, but to no avail.....however....this is just one row of the cemetery, which has over 6,400 mausoleums and statues and crypts...it is referred to as the labyrinthine city of the dead....freaky, yet cool at the same time....



some of the crypts were falling down and some were in perfect condition....i loved how many had stained glass windows and when the sun shined through them they lit up the inside of the mausoleums....it was stunning.....



the works of art of some of these mausoleums was incredible....and the statues of angels or the people who had died or the religious icons was just incredible.....and with the blue sky, white cloud backdrop....it was a perfect way to spend a wandering afternoon....



of course, one of the most famous mausoleums in the entire cemetery was that of eva perone....known by many as evita....she is considered to be the heart of the argentine people and is still revered by all....


her family mausoleum is the only in the entire cemetery that is allowed to have fresh flowers....no other has any....pretty wild....there was also a line to see her crypt....which was not true for any one else in the cemetery either.....



this is a shot of jess and i, standing in front of a bank.....we have no idea what the people behind us are doing....but we decided that they must love the smell of our hair!!!! hahahahahaha....whatever... it was great to connect with jess....we worked together in ghana....yay team ghana!!!!


the bridge above is a swing-suspension bridge....called the bridge of women...it actually swings open....i loved it...we walked across it later on the trip....but this is a shot as we were passing by it....



this was my favorite sculpture in the entire city....it is called the floralis generica and is a stainless steel flower....huge, as you can see from the comparison of the people in the picture....it is a mobile public sculpture...meaning that it opens at 8am every morning, like a real flower would, and it closes at sunset, like many flowers do...it is controlled by hydraulics and photosensors.....way cool!!!!


buenos aires is the host of the 2018 summer youth olympics.....it is refered to by many as just "BA"....they have started getting the city ready for this honor of hosting these games....should be a great place to host them.....


the building above is called la casa rosada (the pink house)....the balcony on the third floor is the famous balcony that eva perone spoke from as she was in the last stages of cervical cancer....they also say she spoke from here when her soon-to-be husband and president of argetina, juan perone, was in jail....when you do the research though, supposedly this never happened....the park in front of this building is where many protests are held and currently there is a long standing camp to remember the veterans of the war of the falklans....interesting stuff and a beautiful building.....don't cry for me argentina!


here i am on the bridge of women.....the cool one in the shot above....i was soooooo excited to be wearing jeans and closed toed shoes on this spring afternoon.....so much cooler in temperature than panama.....as a matter of fact, i am loving the cold weather we are having in the northeast of the states right now....hats, gloves, scarves, jackets....love it!!!!


one of the must do's in argentina is to go see a tango show....and we went to one of the longest running and most spectacular versions....senor tango.....they even had a live horse in the performance....but my favorite parts were the musicians....they had all of the older musicians who had played with the show, come back and perform....3 violinists, a bass player, a pianist, and three accordion players....we were not allowed to take pictures, but the passion, especially of the accordionists, was amazing and so awesome to watch.....the tango was amazing as well....but the musicians were really phenomenal.....



from buenos aires we flew to mendoza....the wine coutry of argentina (just think malbec)....on our first day we wandered the city of mendoza and found their hometown chocolate factory....mostly by smell we found it.....even in high season, easter, it only employs about 100 people....very tasty....



for our second day in mendoza, we went wine tasting....starting at 9am....lots of wine, so very little time....the first stop was trapiche winery, which actually sells all over the world....it is one of the oldest around and has gone through many changes, but is a beautiful place....the egg looking things are the newest ways they ferment the wine....they are pods made of cement....they say it gives the wine more flavor...we saw them at two of the three wineries we went too....so maybe they have something here....aged in our finest limestone and cement pods....hmmmmmmmmm


the second winery we hit was la casa el enemigo....the house of the enemy....it was started by a guy who actually also is part owner of the trapiche winery....but he wanted to create a small, boutique winery that focused on art, food and tradition....the winery is not really where we were for this tour....however, what they have set up for tours is hell, purgatory and heaven.....you go into a cellar (hell)...where there is amazing art....out into an open area (purgatory) that has more art, and the image you see above was from that part (the virgin mary holding a glass of wine....she is considered the virgin of the wine and is only found in this part of argentina)...and then you walk up steps into the tasting room - labelled as heaven....a very beautiful and hipster oriented place....they have their own organic farm and are really carving out their own niche in this region....it was lovely and the wine was tasty.....


last stop was a five-course paired lunch at the winery called augustino....and this was waaaaaaaaaay over the top....the plates had edible flowers....they let us try four different wines with lunch and a champagne (as much as we wanted).....it was stunning....and in a meat-focused country as this, i have to say the vegetarian meal i was served, was incredible....


this is a shot of us after our lovely wine tour day....literally it was alllllllll day....here you see me with our tour guide extraordinaire sal (his wife runs the company), and my traveling friends shawn and tracy....it was a perfect weather day and a perfect wine day.....


then we headed back to buenos aires.....we flew, but if i did this again, we learned that an overnight bus is a better way to do it....you have dinner with wine on the bus....in completely reclining seats and then go to sleep....when you wake up, you have a few hours to enjoy the argentine scenery and then you are at your destination....one thing i really, really loved about buenos aires (and there are many things i loved), was the street art....this was an entire side of a building that was an image of frida kahlo...if you look in the bottom right corner, you can see a shadow of someone's head....to give you an idea of how big this is.....


while in BA, we stayed in two very different parts of the city....recoleta and palermo....this is a shot from the airbnb we stayed at in the palermo section.....what a view....it was in the hipster and quirky part of town...so cafes and bars and restaurants and art galleries were on every corner.....it was awesome to just walk around....and BA is a very walkable city....


we walked down through the amazing parks and the botanical garden in the city to the planetarium....the galileo planetarium....but unfortunately everything is in spanish.....and although my spanish has improved....it has not improved that much.....but it was a cool structure and lovely day to walk around.....



here is a shot of me with one ot the huge meteors they have found in argentina....loved it....


again....i loved the street art of BA...here is another cool building i took a picture of while walking around in palermo....


and of course the last shot of me having an argentinian beer - ande s- it was actually a tasty dark beer....this toast comes from me to you....and i want to wish you all a very happy new year and all the best to you and yours in 2018!!!!  if you have not been to argentina, i would recommend you add it to your list....the capital city and the country are stunning and i really hope i get the chance to return to see some more areas of this enormous and lovely country....

and so i have made it to the end of this update...i am hoping to get another out in the next week and a half, but am not sure that will happen....but i have been exploring parts of panama and would love to share them with you....i hope you enjoyed my tour of argentina...i certainly LOVED visiting this country....again...i hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season and i wish you all the best in 2018!!! thanks as always for reading and feel free to shoot me questions if you ave any....catch ya on the flip side and have a fab day :)

peace out....dani