Friday, August 27, 2010

School...

So, it's not all shopping, exploring, and eating around here. I am taking 15 credit hours. My classes are: International Security Risks, International Law, Politics of Developing Areas, History of South America, and Psychology of Personality. If you fail to see the theme, I'm minoring in International Affairs while I'm here. Figured I would take advantage of the opportunity. Here are a few pictures taken in my classes. Overall, my classes are pretty easy. I'm not to worried about the semester. This is kindof like FSU community college. Alot of students do two years here, get really good at English, then transfer to Tallahassee. They do have 4 year programs in a few select topics, such as International Affairs. I am taking upper level (3000) level classes, but its still going to be easy. Thats it for now!
So, honestly I'm posting this one to see If Carolyn is actually reading my blog. If she is, there is a good chance I will be dead by morning :)

Fish Market


Went to the seafood market today, and the produce market, and the meat market. It was quite an experience. Yes, it reeked of fish, but it was really neat. You walked into the building and the entire auditorium sized room was full of fresh fish. There were all different sizes and all different types. Big ones, little ones, small ones, tall ones, fishy ones, shrimpy ones, squidy ones, crabby ones... It was really tempting to take pictures of the market, but I wasn't exactly in tourist territory. I already have "GRINGA" pasted on my forehead because of my white skin and blond hair, I don't need to add a camera to the picture. I did take a picture of the seafood I got. I got two pounds of shrimps for $3.50/pound, two pounds of Corvina (sea bass) for $1.75/pound (that is of whole fish, not of fillet), and two pounds of Red Snapper for $2.00/pound. They sell the fish whole, but then will fillet it for you if you want. I don't have a sharp enough knife at home so I was grateful. After the fish market, we went to the produce market, where I got a pineapple, some fresh veggies, beans, and rice. At the meat market there were huge slabs of meat, whole chickens, etc. I got a whole chicken for $6.25. Again, I was thankful that they sliced it up for me. Overall, I got a ton of food and didn't spend much money at all. Fun Times.

Dinner and Dance

Little Drummer Dudes
More scary dudes. I don't know what's up with Panama and scary dressed up people. I couldn't get a clear picture of any of these guys because they were moving so fast the whole time. I didn't want to use my flash either because it felt rude. So, I have blurry pictures, but I'm OK with it. I wasn't one of the jerks flashing their cameras non-stop.
The dresses these girls wore were amazing. They were absolutely beautiful. They are all hand made - it takes a few months to make just one. They cost over 1,000 dollars. I use to always talk to my mom about my "whirly skirts" and I couldn't help but think that these dresses are the ultimate whirly dresses.
This night was a lot of fun. It was an expensive restaurant, especially relative to the cost of food in Panama, but we each had a budget of $19.25 that was covered by FSU/by our program tuition. I had some really good seafood and a great piece of chocolate cake (yes, mom. I asked about nuts). The dances and music afterwards were awesome, and the dancers looked like they were having a ton of fun, rather than just slogging through a job. Overall it was a great night. I have some video I'll post later. Internet's a little too off and on tonight to try to upload video.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Carnival Expo

This was a Carnival Expo. Whereas we have mardi gras, they have Carnival. The entire week before lent starts is a huge party in Panama. While you look at the pictures, keep in mind that Panama has a very conservative culture. No one really ever wear shorts or tank tops, and cops will stop you and make you put a shirt on (guys and girls) if you're in a bathing suit and you are not literally in the sand at the beach. Drinking is public is illegal (and enforced), as is being drunk in public. All these laws are suspended during Carnival. It's one big party. Each neighborhood in Panama elects a "reina" (queen). There was a parade at the expo with all the queens. They wore exquisite costumes that looked like they weighed a ton and rode on floats that were pulled by guys (not trucks). Enjoy the video and the pictures!
video
These are some really scary dudes. Don't know exactly what they're supposed to be, but if you watch the video above, it will become clear that there is some story behind the dance that these scary dudes are involved in. I wish I knew what it was. If anyone does know, let e know :) There were little kids posing with these things. I was scared of clowns when I was little - actually, I still am. I don't understand how the kids can look at these things without screaming bloody murder. I wasn't comfortable taking a picture with that thing, but I really wanted one for my blog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Biodiversity Tour

So, today was our biodiversity tour of the panama canal and the associated lake. Every part of it was awesome, from seeing ginormous ships passing by us, to hiking through the jungle and seeing monkeys. Commentary is below each picture.


This is just a view of the many paths going through Gatun lake in the canal. The lake is at the highest point in the lock system; 85 feet above sea level.


This is more along the lines of what I imagined the entire length of the canal would look like. I never imagined a huge lake with little islands to explore and random paths through the jungle. It was really neat to be along side the ships though. They're huge and I can't say I've ever been so close to one.


MONKEY!!! Ok, so these aren't actually native to Panama. People had them as pets, then dumped them on an island in the lake. Now they're a tourist attraction, with boats bringing people to feed the monkeys bananas. We did, however, see Howler monkeys, which are native to Panama. Apparently they have a habit of throwing anything they're holding at you, and if they' aren't holding anything to throw, they will produce something to throw. For this reason, we didn't get to close to them and I don't have a good picture to post.


This is an old US military radio control station. Now, it's a place for plants to grow where trees can't steal their sun. There were bats inside of the structure, and also a tree (next picture)


There is definitely a tree growing in the building. I haven't ever seen anything quite like it. Apparently its in the ficus family (that'll make my mom happy) and is referred to as a walking tree. I can see why.

I have a ton more pictures, but there are only so many that I can post and I only have to much time to blog. There is a Carnival expo tonight that I'm going to. I don't think its a very touristy thing, so I may not take pictures (AKA put a sign on my head that says "TOURIST"), but if I do I'll post a few.

Friday, August 20, 2010

City Tour


This is a picture from a museum that we visited. It is a model of what the city looked like before it was burnt down in a slave revolt. The museum was apparently a popular destination for schools. We got attacked by several hundred kids under the age of 10 saying "hello" to us and waving. They were pretty cute :)


This is a close up on that model of the actual place that the museum was located (where we were)




The two pictures above are from the Miraflores Locks. I'm living literally across the street from them. I have video, but as neat as it is to see and think about the engineering of it, it's a rather slow and boring movie to watch the ship slowly get pulled in, the gates to be closed, the water to ever so slowly drain out, and for the ship to go on. If you think about what is happening, it happens remarkably quick, but still, not the best clip of video. If anyone specifically wants to see it, I'll upload it.


In this picture, we are inside the guarded boundary around the presidential palace. I couldn't get pictures of the Presidential Palace because there were guards in front, and they really don't like having their picture taken; like, they'll hunt you down. Instead, we're looking across the river and towards the city.


This is the first pineapple I have ever cut, and the first fresh tropical pineapple I have ever had. It was AMAZING. It wasn't sour at all, just sweet and juicy. We're definitely going to be going through several pineapples a week, and I'm going to buy a new knife before I chop my fingers off with the dull one provided with our house.

A note: If you're looking at this post and think it looks different than the last time you looked at it, it does. I'm un poco OCD and the formatting was bugging me. I ultimately ended up refreshing my HTML skills a bit and formatting it on my own. Hope it looks good and all the code is absorbed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shopping Success

Today we had orientation in the morning, then we went to the Albrook Mall and bought cell phones and groceries (yes, there is a grocery store at the mall). I now have a cell phone for local use. As much as I would love to call everyone, it's very expensive to make international calls (4 minutes for every 1) so it is mostly going to be employed as an alarm clock, a watch, and to communicate with other IP students. We didn't buy many groceries because we had to carry everything and in this first trip to the store we needed school supplies, laundry soap, paper towels; basics like that, and didn't have much room left for actual food. All and all it's been a good day. My spanish is sufficient to get us around, but I still definitely have a lot of work ahead of me to become fluent.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finally HERE!!!!

I'm here!!! The picture is of the city just before landing at Tocumen International Airport. I chose this one over all the others that I took for one very specific reason. I wanted to reassure all of my friends and family who think I'm in some third world country that I am in a very modern city. I have clean water, AC, a house, all that good stuff. A group of us are headed out to dinner tonight, but I promise there will be more tomorrow.

Miami and the Keys



So, my flight left out of Miami on Wednesday morning, so we drove down to Miami on Tuesday. Dad took it a little further and drove us down to the keys, where we had dinner by the ocean and saw a beautiful sunset. At this restaurant, they save the scraps from the day and feed the tarpon and sharks at dusk. It's really need to see the ginormous tarpon hitting on the water, and there were at least 4 sharks that we got to see up close. I tried to take some pictures, but it was getting dark and the fish were moving fast, so none of them came out very well. The pictures we took at sunset, however, came out beautifully. It was a very nice dinner and one I will definitely remember. Thanks Mom and Dad :)

Monday with Carolyn

So, we left Jacksonville on Tuesday, but on Monday Carolyn and I blocked out enough time to go climbing. Had a great time and made a great Pre-Panama memory. The YMCA in Jacksonville with the climbing walls closed, but someone bought the gym and is keeping it open as a rock gym called The Edge. We had a great time, and I am definitely still sore.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting Ready


Bathing clothes in Permethrin, building sleeping bags, packing up tents and water filters, and working on Spanish vocab. Carolyn is here and we're getting excited for our semester abroad!