Category: Panama

Panama

I want to start off this post by apologizing for my deplorably long silence on the cyber-world.  I have been hard at work giving my blog a complete redesign.  What do you think? 🙂  There are still some tweaks that I want to make, but this is at least the general idea.  Also, just as a heads-up – my website URL has changed.  It’s now just laurenfenner.com.  But I have the old address forwarding to the new one, so you shouldn’t have any problems regardless of which address you use…

But anyway, to thank you all for your patience with my silence, I had to leave the country to give you truly exciting story! 😉  This year for my Spring break, I went to Panama with my mom for most of the week.  Yes, Panama the country, not the city in Florida.  It’s so strange to me to think that this could be the last Spring break I’ll ever have…but it was fun spending it with my mom.  She and dad are looking to buy some property down there, so we went down there on an exploratory trip of sorts.

Our adventure started before we even got to the airport.  Or at least it did for my mom.  She took the airport shuttle up the airport from Columbus, but south of Atlanta there was a horrible accident.  She was stuck in standstill traffic for over 3 hours.  I felt so bad for her :(.  But she finally made it to my house…we were able to get a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport at 0-dark-hundred for our 6:00 am flight.  My friend Michael offered to take us to the airport, which I was very grateful for.  Public transportation doesn’t run at that hour, and airports are really rather creepy places at 4:00 in the morning.  I never in my life thought that I’d see a completely deserted international terminal.  So strange…

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Panama – the only place in the world where the sun rises on the Pacific Ocean and sets on the Atlantic Ocean

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We arrived in Panama City in early afternoon and headed to the hotel.  The rest of that day was pretty much a bust – we were both exhausted from the early morning and long travel.  The next day we left early in the morning to see the Canal.  That was definitely my favorite part of the trip.  There was a fascinating museum they had, which told you all about the history and technical achievements of the Canal.  We also got to actually watch a boat move through the Miraflores locks, which lie on the Pacific side of the Canal.  That was really awesome.  I was totally in awe of the feat of engineering that is the Panama Canal.  I was able to get both pictures and video – check them out below!

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They have small, powerful trucks that hook up to the boats and run on a track along the canal, to help the pilots guide the ships. Sometimes there are only a few inches of clearance on each side!

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Click this link to see the locks opening: Opening of the Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal

On Sunday afternoon, we went on a tour of “Casco Viejo” – the old city.  I felt like I’d been transported in time.  The beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, the indigenous people selling their beautiful hand-made wares on the street, the snake charmer surrounded by a crowd of curious onlookers, the little old Panamanian men dressed in white linen and straw hats leisurely lounging and sipping their beers in cute little outdoor cafes…all of this together felt like a different world entirely.  It certainly wasn’t the same Panama that my hotel was located in – that Panama had huge skyscrapers built in fantastic architectural designs, wide paved roads and beautiful modern bridges, and enormous tracks of land that had been water only a few years ago, but have been reclaimed by the Panamanian government due to the increasing need for land to continue their explosive development and growth.  It was truly a fascinatingly stark study in contrasts.  In fact, a lot of what I saw in Panama surprised me – I was expecting a lot less development and a lot more poverty than exists in actuality.

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We saw a sloth!

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Mom touching a starfish

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This arch is proof of the lack of seismic activity in Panama – since it’s not built to withstand tremors, if there had been any sizeable earthquakes it would have collapsed

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There’s still plenty of room for growth, though.  One such area lies in the peninsula in the center of the country, where my parents are looking to buy property.  On Tuesday morning, we headed out there – about a 5 hour drive – to check out the property and development plans.  James, who works for the developers, picked us up in his car and was our escort for the entire 2 days that it took to go out there and back.  I couldn’t have asked for a better guide.  His dry British humor and pithy comments kept us laughing for most of the trip.  And, as an expat who’s lived in Panama for years, he was incredibly knowledgeable about any we could think to ask him about.

Because it was such a long drive, we stayed Tuesday night in a hotel in the nearby city of Santiago.  We got there early enough that we were able to enjoy the gorgeous pool for a little while.  That was definitely a treat.  I’ve never been in a pool like that before.  Then on Wednesday morning, we went to check out the development project.  While at this point it’s still mostly wild, I can see how it will be really incredible in 5 years or so.  And the views were exquisite.  My mom certainly fell in love with it, lol.

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And just like that, our 5 days in Panama were over!  It was a pretty short trip, but I really enjoyed it.  I’ve never actually traveled with my mom before, so that was a great bonding experience.  Plus it was high time that I start using my passport again!  I haven’t left the country since I started my MS of international affairs – how’s that for irony??  But now, sadly, I must end the nostalgia and continue my quest to dig myself out from the never-ending and ever-growing mountain of work that I have to do before the end of the semester.  Hasta luego!

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