Panama to Mendoza

October 6, 2005

We have had a wonderful time here in Panama and owe a special thanks to Areih and Irit who were wonderful hosts. They showed us the city, helped us explore the country and even took us out for dim sum. They were warm and gracious and we really appreciate the help.

This morning we flew from Boquete to Panama City. At 7 pm we fly to Santiago, Chile arriving at 3 am. At 9 am we have a connection to Mendoza, Argentina. 24 hours of Airport fun. I am still not better, but I can atleast eat. If I am not better when we get to Mendoza I´ll go see a doctor.

Impatient boyfriends and the generally shy

October 5, 2005

Day three in Boquete, day three of Cipro, day three of diarrhea. I am still feeling only “OK” except after I eat. That makes my stomach hurt. I still have dirrehea, but it seems a little better and less frequent than before. I’m not sure when I am going to get better, but I am also not sure when I am coming back to Boquete, so Soyan and I decided we would do a hike today. We originally came to summit Volcan Baru. The standard hike begins at Midnight to arrive for sunrise, which is just about the only time that you can expect clear skies and a chance to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In my current condition that just wasn’t possible.

We instead set out at 8AM on a 1900 foot climb through a secondary growth forest to reach the continental divided. I wasn’t expecting to make it, but we thought we’d give it a shot. We had a wonderful guide who was knowledgeable and patient and we did in fact make it. Sadly the typical cloud cover had set in and we didn´t have much of a view.

We did however see some amazing butterflies, flowers and plants. There were tons of wild Impatiens which are known in Spanish as “Novios” or boyfriends. I thought this seemed just about right. Far more impressive was however the Sensitive or Shy Plant. It has an amazing ability to respond almost immediately to touch.

I hear you saying “that can’t be…”

Well it is just take a look at the video (starring Soyan’s hand)…

If you can’t see the video, click here to download it.

Kuna Matada.

October 4, 2005

No worries? Not quite. In Spanish “Kuna Matada” means killed Kuna which is just what happened in 1925 as the Kuna fought (and won) limited autonomy from Panama. Soyan has an nice background post on San Blas and the Kuna. I have some thoughts of my own, but in the mean time I wanted to put up a link to some photos.

Photos of San Blas, Panama and the Kuna People.

Roshashna and rushing to the bathroom

Apples and Honey Last night was the eve of Rosh Hashana and as an appetizer before dinner I took my second dose of Cipro. I spent most of the day using the Internet and taking a nap. I dragged myself out for dinner and to buy some apples and honey for the Jewish new year. Then I crashed still having a slightly elevated temperature of 99.9. I only had to get up once in the middle of the night.

This morning I actually was able to eat some breakfast and I am feeling “OK”. I am hoping to be better tomorrow so we can do some hiking because Boquete is beautiful.

Feeling Crappy

October 3, 2005

I feel crappy! It is 7am and I just woke up in Boquete, Panama with my
third day of diarrhea and fever and I am giving up on Imodium and
switching to Cipro.

I have been trying to make myself feel better by thinking about
Stanley and Livingstone and their epoch journeys though Africa. I just finished listening to “Into Africa”, which I bought from Audible. It is
a gripping tail which includes suffering from diarrhea (and much
worse) for much longer and under much harder conditions than I have
had to suffer. While it is non fiction it is as exciting as the best
novels I’ve read.

Now that I have a decent Internet connection more to follow shortly.

The case for camera cases.

September 21, 2005

I have always thought that the goofy case that came with my camera was just to make me feel like I got something for my money, that it made the camera bulky and a pain to get out. It turns out, that it in fact serves a useful purpose! I have owned several Sony cybershots but all have at some point or another developed the same problem that when I zoomed all the way in “junk” came in to focus on the lens. This was so frequent a problem that I even added a flickr keyword dirtylens to sort out the problem photos.

I could stand it no more, so I got to know Panama city a little bit by visiting 6 different camera shops til I could find somebody to diagnose and fix the problem. Upon opening my camera he reported that it was “totally full of dust”. $68.00 later, my camera seems much improved and they even gave me a random case so I can prevent the problem in the future. I’ll be a loyal case user from now on.

In the states this would have been a tedious errand, but in Panama it was kind of fun to have a purpose, a reason to go places and a mission to accomplish. Also I can feel my Spanish returning as I use it more, which is nice.

You want to take the bus?

September 19, 2005

We have just arrived back from San Blas and have a few hours of Internet access in Panama City, so I wanted to write briefly about our visit to the Panama Canal from last week.

Panama City — After consulting our trusty Lonely Planet we decided that it shouldn’t be that hard to take the bus to the Miraflores Locks. I could actually see the bus stop from our hotel window. To get to the locks, we’d need to take the bus first to the Plaza Cinco de Mayo and then get the connection to the locks.

We were staying at the Marriott Courtyard and we went to the front desk to inquire about the details of the bus. The cheerful receptionist explained that there was no need to take the bus, she could arrange a Taxi. When I told her that I’d like to take the bus she looked confused, but eventually understood that we were looking for “una Adventura”. We would not be disappointed.

We caught the first bus almost immediately and after a brief confusion about the fact that there seemed to be no place to pay (they collected the fare from us when we got off) we were taken quickly and comfortably to the Plaza. We disembarked paying $0.25 each and feeling pretty smug. We asked around about where to catch our connection and quickly found the stop. As each bus approached, we asked anxiously if it was the right one because there was a heavy mist threatening to become a light rain. Eventually, we found a bus, where the driver that said he was headed our way. Five minutes later we pulled in to the main bus terminal and the driver motioned for us to get off and pointed to a waiting taxi.

For the second time that day I explained that I wanted to take the bus. He told me we’d have to walk from where the bus left us. Our guidebook had alerted us that it was a 15 minute walk from the Miraflores entrance, where the bus dropped us, to the locks themselves, so I confidently told him it wasn’t a problem.

5 minutes later we were leaving the bus with directions of “walk 15 minutes, that way,” with a corresponding vague sweep of the driver’s hand. He followed up with a helpful “toward the water.” As we jumped out and the bus roared away, the rain began as a slight drizzle, waiting less than a minute before converting itself to a pounding torrent. We took shelter under the overhang of what looked like a government building where a security guard instantly appeared and eyed us with caution, but said nothing. After 20 minutes the rain had calmed to a manageable level and we set out “that way toward the water”. As we walked down a narrow street we quickly saw piles of shipping containers and workers behind a chain link fence on once side of the street. The other side of the street seemed to be a dense jungle. There was little else to be seen. Soyan commented presciently, “This seems a little sketchy, even for lonely planet.” Our arrival at a lone sign warning us not to enter without authorization from the Panama Canal Authority, confirmed her suspicion. A brief conversation with some friendly dockworkers on their break and we realized we were in Balboa, miles from Miraflores.

As we began to walk back in the rain, as if in answer to our deep seated but unspoken desire, a rental car pulled up and an earnest looking young man and 2 women asked if we knew where the Miraflores locks were. We explained that we didn’t, but that we too were looking for them. We added how the bus had left us at the wrong spot and we had been caught in the rain. Eventually we looked sufficiently pathetic that he told us to get in. We piled in the back seat with his cousin and all of their luggage. With Soyan on my lap we all looked for the locks together.

Carlos the driver, his long time girlfriend Nancy and his cousin Mirasol were from el Salvador on vacation, but headed on to the Zona Libre (the free trade zone) in Colon to shop for his business, selling home electronics in El Salvador. We all toured the museum together and looked at the very impressive locks. Later we treated them to a round of drinks to say thanks. Having filled our adventure quotient for the day we took a cab to see the causeway and then went back to the hotel before going to Libby’s birthday Party.

Read Soyan´s account of the same events.

Feliz Cumpleanos a Libby

September 16, 2005

Panama City — Casco Viejo. Tonight, a friend here in Panama city invited us to tag along to his friend’s birthday party with the young Jewish scenesters of Panama city. We went to a trendy restaurant in the old part of the city, Casco Viejo. We had a delicious dinner in a former jail cell right across the street from the mayor’s house. Now that is gentrification!

It was a reminder of what a delight it is to see a city through the eyes of the locals. Libby, the birthday girl, is a Colombian that lived in Israel for several years before moving to Panama recently, but most of this group has grown up together. It was a treat to peek inside this established community and to learn about the businesses, relationships and lives of these people.

Here some photos of a great evening.

We have to catch a plane to San Blas in just 5 hours so the details of our little adventure of taking the bus to the locks of Miraflores this morning will have to wait, but some photos of the Panama Canal are now uploaded.