Where in the world are we?

Where in the World are We?

09 January 2011

Rainy Days in the City

On Thursday we decided to walk along Via España in the opposite direction than we have been traveling and see another side to the city. We’d already ridden past on the bus the day before, but wanted to visit the bookstore we’d heard had a good selection of both Spanish and English titles.

The 45-minutes walk took us past several shopping plazas and enabled Anthony to take some photos of the vibrantly painted buses. One thing we have loved throughout Central America is the bright, lively buses with amusing scenes and images. Here we have seen the backs of buses painted with varying images, like Harry Potter, Looney Tunes, The Rock, and religious symbols.Every bus is unique.

The bookstore was great. Yesterday happened to be the most humid of all our days so far so the air conditioning and smell of new books was a welcome respite from the heat and exhaust of the city streets. We found some great books, but with limited carrying space, we will only be trading in books as we finish them (one thing we’ve also enjoyed while traveling is the books trade and discovering new books).

We hopped on a bus to return to Mamallena for lunch and soon thereafter, it had also begun to downpour so we opted for staying indoors. Since we still had a few hours before dinner, we got on a bus to the Albrook Mall – the huge one we saw by the bus terminal.

This mall is bigger than any we have been in, we think. It had two food courts, filled with all kinds of American and other fast food brands (how come the malls in America don’t have every type of fast food in one place? What if someone didn’t want only McDonald’s as an option? Just a curious thing). There were also numerous shoe, electronics, accessory, watch, and clothing shops interspersed with department stores and kiosks. It was good for walking around indoors and gave the opportunity to search fruitlessly for a memory card for the Nikon. Unfortunately, the type ours uses is not the common type anymore, so it is not easy to find. Ours work fine, we just thought one additional back-up couldn’t hurt.

We enjoyed a nice relaxing dinner of bean, corn, and Spanish rice tortillas.

Parque Natural Metropolitano

We decided to visit two of our planned sights today since we skipped one yesterday. The Parque Natural Metropolitano is a tropical park completely surrounded by the city. The park is home to Monos Titi (Geoffroy’s Tamarin Monkeys), Perezosos de tres garras (three-toed sloth), white-nosed coati, Blue-Morpho butterflies, and many birds living among the tropical flora and fauna and other critters. It was a short taxi ride to the park and then we spent two hours walking the trails (los senderos) looking up for monkeys and sloths. Anthony heard something in the trees and when he looked over there was a little monkey right in front of us. The monkey hid behind a tree for a bit, but came out for a quick photo op before jumping among the branches out of site.

The park has a mirador overlooking the city all the way from the canal on one side to the Bahia de Panama and the skyscrapers on the other. It was well worth the walk and was not a difficult or overly strenuous hike. It is very much a rainforest right in the city – it was hot in there, but fortunately we had a nice morning and cool breezes made their way through the canopy.
We are fortunate to have seen the one monkey, because we did not spot any others. We also had no luck with the sloth, but we saw one in Costa Rica, so we can’t complain. On our way out, we saw a man taking photos in the trees, and looked up to see several different brightly colored birds romping and flying about. We took some pictures before they all hid away again. We also saw several blue morpho butterflies and other types of butterflies, some hummingbirds, and one mystery mammal (maybe a gibnut?). It was a lovely morning walk in the park.

Mi Pueblitos

Following our morning in the park, we traveled to Mi Pueblitos, an area at the foot of Cerro Ancon that has different types of villages found throughout the country. Since we have a short time in Panama it seemed a good idea to take a look.

Lucky for us, the rains decided to come as we left the park, so we had to wait them out browsing through some of the shops in the first pueblito that is modeled after those found in the interior regions of the country. We looked in at the model schoolroom (I wish schoolrooms had such good furniture in Belize!), a home, the village chairperson’s office, the barbería, the iglesia and a courtyard. We also had a lovely conversation with a local man who explained the type of village and shared his tales of traveling for six months in the US – to Wisconsin and all the beaches of Florida!

Next we visited the Afro-Antilleno village which differed with its brightly colored wood buildings.Since more rain began to fall, we sat in the church and waited again for some clearer skies.
We followed the road to the Aldeas Indigenas, but the section was closed. We actually were looking most forward to seeing a model Kuna Yala village, but were not able. However, we did meet an extremely friendly Kuna woman who invited us into her shop in order to “conocerlos” (get to know us). She told us all about Kuna traditions and how she learned to make molas simply by watching her mother and picking up scissors and fabric and using her imagination. She makes beautiful pieces and also talked to us about the traditional “uniform” she wears and that she feels the younger Kuna girls are now losing because they don’t want to dress that way. She explained she makes the beaded leg wraps in different colors for each month. She even thought ginnie could learn it easily, but ginnie explained in her broken Spanish that she did not quite pick up artist talent!(there is a picture of a Kuna Woman in her native dress in our previous post).

A brief respite from rain came again, so we made our way back out, only to be stuck again in the Afro-Anilleno village when the rains fell harder. Finally, with only drizzle we went to the main road to catch a taxi back to the hostal.

With these visits, our week in Panamá City comes to a conclusion and we travel on to our next stop on Sunday morning.

Where to next?*

We will travel west to a higher altitude and cooler, drier climate. Our next locale is home to “the world’s best coffee” as claimed by some, and brings us close to Panamá’s only Volcano as well as its highest point. Also, we will be there during the annual Festival de Flores y Café. Where will we be?

*Dear Friends and Family: to play along, either email us directly to the joint account or post a comment here (which goes to the same email anyway) with your response. The first person to answer correctly will be entered into a raffle. The raffle will take place at the end of our trip when we will pick a name from ginnie’s hat. The lucky winner will receive a special prize representing our travels! J


Mica & John said...

Can't wait to see you pictures from Boquete!

Christopher Weiss said...

Boquete, Panama. The Peterek's didn't specify the country. Did you mean Boquete, Costa Rica? Boquete, Iowa? We don't know????????

Show me that raffle ticket!!!! Really cool idea for a blog! Keep it up. Have fun!