Being in Latin America always feels so right and Panama has been no different. Zipping around the city at night with reggaeton blaring on the radio and the windows down, with high-rise buildings alongside decrepit alleyways and the unmistakable smell of trash whiffing by, I feel oddly at home. The city is remarkably developed, a lot like parts of Buenos Aires which explains my sense of familiarity. The tap water is drinkable, they use U.S. currency, and my Spanish has survived a year of neglect, so no major obstacles there.
I’m staying in the Global Brigades (GB) office/apartment with the rest of the new advising team, and it’s been a really fun and exciting atmosphere so far. Today we spent touring parts of the city and getting to know each other. We started the day at Parque Omar for a picnic and conversation about our goals and expectations for the year. As a group we have pretty diverse backgrounds in terms of interests and academic studies, but everyone seems to share a great passion for the work that GB is doing.
We then drove to Cerro Ancon, a hill in the middle of the city with a great view, took some pictures and watched the Panama Canal from a distance. This was followed by a quick stop at the Feria de Mariscos (fish market) for some fresh ceviche (a dish of raw fish, shrimp, and octopus marinated in lime juice and chili pepper).
We walked along the water over to Casco Antiguo (old town), the historic district of the city with buildings dating back to the 1600s. We stopped for a cerveza by the Casa Blanca (panama’s white house) and grabbed a dinner of arroz frito (fried rice) at the “Cafe Coca Cola,” which was far more panamanian than the name implies.
Real training begins tomorrow so tonight is a quiet night in but we’ve all been equipped with telephone operator style headsets to conduct our future phone calls, so the apartment resembles some kind of fundraising call center with everyone on their laptops and wearing the headsets just for kicks. We’re soon to drink some wine and watch the documentary “Human Planet” (from the makers of “planet earth”), so I’m definitely feeling in my element already 🙂
here’s the link to the full album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/64200315@N05/sets/72157627064882410/