Judson Friends... but not at Judson

While in Panama, I met up with Judson friends, Marc and Amy Shuflin, who are currently teaching in Caracas, Venezuela. We were able to catch up and trade notes on our schools before Trish and I took an 8pm bus from the city to the beach. Here we are at Albrook Mall... complete with a carousel!
And then when we got back to Costa Rica, another Judson friend, Jenny, contacted me and said she was still in the country after an unplanned robbery. The burglars got everything, including her passport. So she was here in San José for a few more days than she planned, but I was glad to see her! She and a friend, Kristin, were able to spend the night with us here in our apartment. On Tuesday morning, she flew back to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she is also teaching 4th grade. Here we are after Pilates class... sweaty and tired.


Happy Birthday, Dad (and Austin in a week)!!!

Dear Dad and Austin,

For your birthdays, I thought about getting you one of these straw masks made by the Embera tribes... What do you think? The problem is that the masks are traditional in Panama and I am in Costa Rica, so it might be more difficult now to buy them for you. But they say it's the thought that counts, right? :)
No worries, I'll find something good to send you soon!


More Panama City

Hotels going up outside the city.
The marina on the Causeway.

Garbage everywhere in the poorer part of the city.


Albrook Mall... the largest mall in the Americas. It had a Dairy Queen... yes, we loved that :).

The poorest complexes.

Flowers above the sidewalk.

Kids swimming in the fountain... they charged us a dollar to take their photo.
The outline of the downtown... it was really foggy that day.

Me and Trish with the city in the background.



I love molas, an art form from the indigenous Kuna Indians in Panama. I have collected quite a few... probably about 10 or 12 while living here in San José, and I was able to see Kuna women in Panama City, making and selling the molas. I had read in a guidebook that Kuna will let you take photos of them but only if you pay them $1 first. So I was prepared to pay for this photo!
The Kuna women wear the molas as a visual symbol of where they are at in life. I have learned a lot as I ask at booths that sell the artwork or from books and websites along the way in the last couple years. The common pattern of unending lines symbolizes the cycle of life and is a foundational part of their beliefs and designs. This woman wears the mola on her stomach, which is somewhat hidden by her puffy sleeves. The beads on her legs are also handmade and complex as they are made of a single strand of beads and wrapped around her legs to create the geometric patterns.
The Kuna women are under the table to stay out of the sun while working on molas. Each mola takes about 3 to 5 months to complete if they are done well. It's amazing to me how patient they are with the artwork... and then how cheap the artwork is for having taken them so long to complete.

Molas hanging for display.
And more molas... Amazing. I can't seem to learn enough about these!

Casco Viejo

We explored Casco Viejo for a few hours on my first adventure day in Panama City... after I had quickly recovered from the food poisoning the previous day.
Casco Viejo is the second oldest part of the city that the Spanish built after Panama Viejo was taken over and burned by conquestors in the 1600s. It is now a mixture of ruins and modern buildings and everything in between.
the white part in the sidewalk are cow bones.... i was a bit grossed out by that thought but apparently they weren't when they built it.

a close up of the cow bones.

the old separates the new.

vultures were easily spotted no matter where we were in the city... it was kind of a creepy feeling to know they were always watching you.

ruins of a monk convent from the 1600s... they have done a lot of work on it to keep it in decent shape.
balconies seemed to be on every building

the newer church near the main plaza


Any Idea What This Is?

So we discovered a new species or something on a hike to the beach... I hear Costa Rica and Panama are great places to study biology and all, but any ideas what this new creature might be?


Panama Adventure #1

Food poisoning.

Trish bought some strawberries yesterday for the bus trip and washed them and sealed them in a Ziploc. We ate some during the afternoon of our 17 hour bus ride, and then after going through Panama's border and customs lines, I ate some more strawberries around 9:30pm. By then, they had fermented a little bit but I didn't think too much of it, they just tasted a little funny. By 1am, I was best friends with a barf bag until we arrived in Panama City around 4am. Yuck. Not the way I imagined arriving in Panama.

So today's planned Canal trip and museum and shopping have been put off until tomorrow. I am recovering with lemonade, Coke, Gatorade, ramen, and toast, and a fever. We have 2 more days to explore the city, so hopefully I'll be a little bit stronger by tomorrow. Ewwwwwww.