Friday, October 15, 2010

Cerro Ancon

So finally, an up-to-date post. This is what I did TODAY!!! Not a month ago like the previous two :) More than any other day, I wished I had my nice camera and a tripod. We "hiked" (up a road...) to the top of Cerro Ancon, a really big hill in the middle of the city. We didn't do this during the day though, we started hiking around 5:30-6:00ish, about when the sun was setting, hence the desire for a tripod and a nice camera. I did my best though, using Carolyn's shoulder a few times, trees to brace the camera against, and the occasional sign. Still came out pretty blurry though :(

This was right before we got started. Note Carolyn playing on a ledge overgrown with something green and slippery. This is her convincing me to NEVER go hiking with her anywhere near cliffs.

So... Completely unrelated to Cerro Ancon except that I took the picture while on the hill. Note what is different in this sign than the ones back home :) I find it entertaining.

Looking out over the pacific side. If you could see behind the palm tree on the right, you would see a line of ships waiting for their turn to go through the canal.

Looking out at the city

Well, it's blurry, but over on the right you can see lights from the ships waiting their turn to start through the canal. The big blur of lights is a cruise ship. Apparently going through the canal is not only practical, but a selling point for some cruises.


The City on the left, ocean on the right, entrance to the canal if you keep panning right beyond where this pic toes.

That strring of blurry lights on the left is the Bridge of the Americas. The bridge going over the canal, connecting what the canal separated.

The city from the top. As you can see, it was flat out dark by the time we got up to the top. I can't take credit for this picture though. Gracie climbed a tree and asked me to pass her my camera. When I got it back, this picture was on it.

Carolyn and I at the top with the city lights in the background

On an unrelated note, I'm getting used to all the things that were weird when I got here. I'll have to catch a picture of it sometime, but when I walk back from school at the same time as there is a ship going through the Miraflores locks, it looks like there is a huge container ship driving down the street in front of me. I'm starting to tune out the loud and long ship horns that I used to hear at all hours of the night and day. I know they're happening just as often, I just don't notice it as much.
Oh ya! 3 trips to immigration, one of which involved a bomb scare, and about 12 hours of waiting, but I got my student visa!!!

El Valle Zoo

Although I already went to Santa Clara with Carolyn, we took an IP trip last weekend to El Valle and Santa Clara. I already have plenty of good pics up from Santa Clara, so everything here is from the zoo in El Valle. I'll be going back to El Valle sometime and have more pictures of the actual valley to show.

There's a pic of a golden frog crawling around on the glass. They're believed to be extinct in the wild. There's a massive preservation project at this zoo. Essentially there's a fungus or something that's wiping them out. They've quarantined a bunch of them unaffected by the fungus and are planning to reintroduce them once the fungus moves on. What makes them think the fungus will ever "move on", I have no idea...

I few owls annoyed by the bright light and people trying to get their attention. Can't say I've ever seen an owl this close up though.

Ok, so you have no reference to see how huge this rooster is, but trust me when I say it is on sttinken GINORMOUS rooster. If you've known me long, you probably know that I HATE roosters/have traumatic memories of a rooster trying to kill me (not to be confused with the goose that tried to kill me). I was a little worried that bird was going to flump over the fence just to try to kill me. It was eying me the whole time I was trying to get a picture.

I don't know what those things are, I assume some type of monkey. I just thought they were cute together, one protecting the other from my camera.

I have no idea what this thing is, there was no sign. At first I thought this thing was hideous. A disgusting mix of an anteater, possum, and rat. After I stared at it for a while though, I started to think he was a little cute. Definitely curious and pretty friendly too.

So it's not a goose... but it's big and it's a bird and that's enough reason for me to hate it. It's trying to attack some poor kid who only wants to feed it.
There's a gray one. Don't be confused by the pictures, I never got close to these things. Just used zoom. And I had a firm grasp on my knife, ready to kill any bird that tried to kill me.
That ones for Mommy. It's a really big orchid. It's called the Holy Ghost Orchid. It's actually in bloom, but since they had more fencing around this thing than they did around the painted leopard, I was unable to get a macro shot of the flower.

Look at the cute little leopard. He's just begging someone to stick their hand over there to pet him... So he can bite it off. Seriously. A chain link fence which any 2 year old could fit an arm through. Kindof neat, especially to see the little kitty sticking his paws though.

This one just wants to sleep in his little house. Isn't he so cute? Looks just like a cute little kitty you could adopt from the humane society; except from those teeth you can see protruding from its mouth.

Azuero Peninsula

So first off, sorry bout the gap between blog posts. It's not so novel to be over here anymore. Things like grocery shopping and taking taxis are no longer blog-worthy, but I still promise to keep in touch better. This post is all from the IP (international programs) trip to the Azuero Peninsula. I didn't post when I came back because I claimed I had no fun and just got sick (really sick), but looking back at my pictures I realize I did in fact have a good time. Enjoy!

So our first stop in the Azuero Peninsula was La Hacienda San Isidro, a distillery/brewery/sugar cane farm all in one. This place makes the name brands Seco and Abuelo, both of which have been described to me as "burning paint-thinner" by more than one person.

Outside of the cellars was beautiful. I wished I had my nice camera and more time to take some pictures. I felt like I was at some Cady and Cady set or something. It doesn't look like it, but it was dripping a bit and was about to start raining.
So this was neat. In a town called La Arena (literally, the sand) right next to Chitre, it turned into a pottery factory city, except without what we would think of as factories. I watched a guy throw bowl after bowl after bowl. All of them came out identical and it took him about 30-60 seconds per bowl, depending on sign and ornamentation. It was beyond what I imagined when I read "Handmade" on a piece of pottery. They also use old-fashioned firing methods. There are kilns like the above all over the city, and firewood piled everywhere.
This was outside of one of the shops. These "Half-Vases" as I called them are to hang on a wall. They will be fired, painted/glazed, and fired again before they are sold. There were just shelves and shelves of things drying, waiting to be fired, or waiting to be painted.
There's Carolyn trying her hand at the wheel. Not electric powered. There's a big circle piece of wood at the bottom attached to the wheel. You have to kick the wood to spend the wheel. Hard to keep your hands steady while kicking to keep the wheel spinning. It was fun trying though :)
So, this was step one in making a mud house. I only have a picture of step one because the next steps required me to become way too muddy to touch my camera. Wish I had a picture of the finished product, but  you can see the frame of the wall we will be making in the background of the shot. It was fun for a while, but then it started raining, and eventually it just got wet, muddy, hot, and buggy. I think this is a brilliant business plan. We were making a house people actually lived in. Business plan: Get gringos to pay you to be allowed to build your house. Sounds good to me. Seriously though, the whole neighborhood came out to watch the gringo idiots playing in the mud. There were about people there at one point.
Everyone posing for a picture, unaware that Gary (program assistant) is about to coat them in mud.
And finally, Gary. I believe there is already a pic of him on this blog, but I think he has a white tee-shirt over his face. He's an amazing program assistant. A spanish to english dictionary/tour guide/handy man/friend all in one. There's a running joke around here. Whenever anything goes wrong, the first thing to come out of our mouths (in a whining tone) is "Gary, fix it!" Example: When there was a bomb threat at immigration and we were stuck outside sweating buckets, the first thing we said was, "Gary, Fix it" even though Gary wasn't with us. We still maintain that if he were there, he could have fixed it. 

I'm doing well and having fun. This trip had some bumps, but looking back I still had a great time. I was sick for the week after this, missed class, slept all day, went to a Panamanian doctor, etc. It wasn't fun. They haven't heard of Nyquil or anything similar in this country, and apparently they like to start Z-packs off with two shots of antibiotics. No fun.