"Hola" from Panama


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Published: October 11th 2006
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"Buenas" (The most common greeting around here)

Panama wasn't on my list of intended destinations, but here I am, as I wouldn't let the opportunity to merge with another culture go by.

The trip down to the Central American country between Colombia and Costa Rica was my first since the ban on liquids in carry-on luggage, thus we checked our bags. Well, we made it to Panama City on time, but not our belongins, which arrived 26 hours later. Needless to say, wearing the same clothing for 2 days wasn't very refreshing, to say the least, particularly when the heat and humidity have been so high we feel like melting popsicles under the tropical sun.

We started our first day with a pleasant hike on the "Parque Natural Metropolitano", the only protected tropical forest within an urban area in the Amricas. The forest is known as the "lungs of Panama City".

From there we headed to the Panama Canal, witch connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The USA bought the rights to built it for 40 million dollars, almost 100 years ago. In 1979 president Carter passed it back to the Panamean people. It is a great source of income for Panama, generating almost 500 millions/year, with the transit of 14,000 ships. It costs an average Panamax ship $100,000 to cross the canal, taking ~15 hours for the journey. It would take 2 weeks for the same ships to go around the bottom tip of South America, and it would cost 10 times more.

It was actually very interesting to see the container ships being lifted 85 feet and gliding through massive locks, tightly fitting, with literally only inches to spare on either side of the walls.

The population is about to vote "si"or "no" on the proposition to build an extra set of wider and deeper locks. There is plenty of campaining going around, and lots of controversy about the fate of the $5 billion for the construction, as most expect political corruption to follow for certain.

On our second day we travelled for 2 hours to "El Valle", a picturesque, eco-friendly, lush town on what was a crater of an ancient vulcano. The fresh and cooler mountain air was very much welcomed, as I was getting sick of breathing polluted city air and of stinking like if I had put on an
El Valle Indian El Valle Indian El Valle Indian

Selling colorful handcraft
"exhaust pipe" fragance on!! Yes, my hair and clothing smelled that bad!!!

Back about the "El Valle", it is the home of the endangered, and very poisonous, golden frog. The little creature actually looks cute!!! We also got to see the market, where the indigenous people come to sell plants, vegetables and handicrafts. We tried some new food, the "pifa", the little fruit called "nance", which tasted pretty bad, and the delicious "patalones", a special type of banana which is cut, smashed thin, fried and salted.

That's all for today.
Patricia






Additional photos below
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Pifa grows on a palm treePifa grows on a palm tree
Pifa grows on a palm tree

Looks good and healthy, but boy it tasted horrible!! Eaten after it is cooked.
Tradition meets modern in townTradition meets modern in town
Tradition meets modern in town

Note the bead ornaments on the Indian woman's legs and arms. ~7% of the population is Indigenous


11th October 2006

Panama
Ola Patricia! Vejo que voce continua viajando mundo afora... Que bom! Acho que as viagens nos revigoram. Obrigada por compartilhar todos os momentos destas viagens comigo. Um beijo carinhoso da amiga. Rita.
11th October 2006

Traveling is more complex these days.
Still the inconveniences appear to be worth the effort. You have a positive spin on all your commentaries. As a "yoyeur" of your travels, I have enjoyed many experiences, contemplated alternative perspectives and dwelled in the peaceful and the primitive. Thanks for sharing!!!! Gratefully, Twanda
11th October 2006

Oi friend
Como sempre, curto seus comentarios sobre as minhas inda e vindas. Eh tao gostoso sentir-se perto das pessoas amigas. Um grande beijo pra voce. Patricia
12th October 2006

Hey Twanda
So nice to know that you are "aboard" and enjoying the ride! As you can see I've conquered my fear of being on the air and it has been so rewarding. Keep in touch and say hello to Gordon, Grete and whoever I know and is still around UCD. I miss you. Patricia
5th June 2007

The correct name is Pixbae not Pifa. Lovely Blog anyway.

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