So that I don’t forget to chronicle my travels… here’s Panama Days 1-3This could get long so its under a cut…

5 October – Got up arse over teakettle early to head to O’Hare airport. The cab I’d scheduled was 20 min late so I was a bit freaked out about getting through security and Friday check in lines at O’Hare. Finally got there, only to have the cabbie claim that no one told him that it was a pre-scheduled pick up with credit card payment. color me annoyed… finally check in with American, kiss Eric goodbye and wait for 1.5 hours before boarding.

Miami Int’l Airport is the WORST Airport ever. Worse than Midway or O’Hare. Hartsfield Atlanta at least has a tram but Miami? I felt like I’d walked the ends of the earth before I found the connecting terminal. Finally arrived in Panama airport late on Friday night. We were picked up by a man who knew very little English and stopped twice to find the place the ship was docked. We had a moment where we thought he had taken our passports and run off when we sat in a van for about 15 minutes while he went off to what seemed like a bar with all of our passports in hand.

He finally came back to the van and got us to the ship.PICT0026 We had to climb a gangplank that was at about a 45 degree angle because of high tide PICT0038

After getting settled in for the night, I crashed after an impromptu meet n greet in the faculty bar on board. Loads of nice people but I was knackered! I slept in my wee bed and room PICT0338 until we headed out for our respective AFP’s (Academic Field Programs) the next day. I went to the Graduate International Communication presentation to the Tourism board of Panama. The problem was that only two people from the Tourism board showed up and this was toward the end of their presentation. PICT0024

After that was over, I went with one of the students to the local open air market (I didn’t think to take any pictures, since I wasn’t sure if it would be allowed) got quite a bit of stuff and then went back to the ship on the shuttle they had set up to pick folks up at a nearby mall. The next day was our day of adventure!

Luckily I was up early and saw that our excursion was now leaving at 7:50 am and not at 9:00 am as we’d been told all along. I was so glad I had my army issue boots! PICT0121

We started off on a tour bus ride PICT0059 that took about 2 hrs… and then we got in motorized canoes to head down the Chagres River PICT0119 to hike up to this waterfall PICT0075 and then take a short ride back to meet the Embera Drua.

PICT0087 The visit was ok but made me slightly uncomfortable when the gifts were presented to the children of the village and they started fighting over them. Due to a film I’d seen in Anthropology 102, I took the following picture with the film “Cannibal Tours” in mind PICT0110

After a very exhausting day of adventuring and climbing over rocks and whatnot we made it back to the ship by 1600 and we pulled out at 1800 on the dot…luckily we didn’t have to leave anyone behind.

And that ends the tale of Fri-Sunday in Panama!

6 thoughts on “Travel stuff

  1. One of my colleagues was in Turkey recruiting recently. She loved it. I’ll peruse your WP today and hopefully have something interesting to ask

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  2. When you have time, read ‘transformedia’ @ WordPress – maybe go back a bit into the older posts and let me know what you think, thanx – PLUS – went to Turkey for a month this last spring, and if you like I can send some stories / answer some questions.

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  3. Oh I loved Panama a whole lot. More than I enjoyed Ecuador. The village in these photos is in a gov’t sponsored area, but I didnt get a sense of avarice or impropriety. Our guides said that the Embera had actually started covering up more because of how tourists would be uncomfortable with their near nudity.

    Call it good old American guilt, but I just felt awful when the kids started fighting over these toy trucks and such, when there clearly wasn’t enough for each child in the village, and the rest of the gifts were school supplies which werent the most fun gift, they were useful.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit to Panama and should I get the chance, I’ll go back again.

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  4. You know, I re-read my post to you and realized how fuck-headed it seemed. My apologies. BUT – I took my children, ages 8 and 11 at that time, upriver to two villages. The first was an upsetting environment, with crafts on tables and benches, pre-teen girls with exposed breasts, (which confused the hell out of my children, even though thorough explanations were given), and a weird air of avarice swirling about. The second was a govermentally sponsored educational co-op, and it was pretty cool. My son helped repair a dugout, and my daughter played in the river with the other kids. I love Panama, and hope to return soon.

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  5. I’m sorry I don’t understand what you are talking about. My one comment about my Embera visit is not meant to color my whole perception of my time in Panama.

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  6. Sorry you saw it the way you did…I was Colon-side 4 months in ’06, and traveled the country one end to the other. It is a paradise there but, alas, the exploiters are moving in fast I hear. A poor country, fundamentally, which suffers from the vagaries of elected officials eager for a buck and in control of the only deals that go down. The people are participatory in the election process to a degree that shamed me, and it is blatantly all about the connections that will, sign your contract, or get improvements for your town, or turn a blind eye to whatever you are involved in that may be illegal…or not. The most impressive thing about Panama, to me, was the overall happiness of the people.

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