Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th in Panama

It does not appear that Panamanians have any concerns about Friday the 13th other than getting out and enjoying the mall. There is a very large mall close by our hotel so we had a chance to walk around, have lunch and observe. The picture to the right is the view from the Eighth floor where our room is. Jey-hu had, from his previous travels, earned a couple of free nights in this hotel chain, so that's how we're affording to stay here.
The mall activities are just like those in the U.S. the weeks before Christmas. The photo to the left is in the "Food Court" of the mall, not far from where the movie theatres are. We decided to go and watch "2012" and fortunately, since our Spanish is still limited, it was in English with subtitles. It was very much like "Deep Impact," the end-of-the-world story about a comet hitting the earth - interesting that both had 'Presidents" with dark skin and "arks" for saving certain people and pairs of animals. And both had a last moment turn of positive events.

But disaster movies tend to leave one feeling sort of disempowered, which is why I generally don't elect to see them. And "2012," even with the hopeful ending, was definitely a canned storyline. Although the special effects were interesting, especially seeing Mt. Everest as beach-front property, the message, and the delivery of it, was not unique.

You can see the half-decorated tree inside the mall. Even with temperatures in the mid-80's, the commercial trappings of Christmas are being installed in preparation for holiday spending. What we noticed is that most of the women in Panama City seem to wear their hair below shoulder length. If they want to have a sleeker or cooler look, they tie it up, put it in a bun or ponytail. I am definitely in the minority with my blonde, shoulder-length hair. And Jey-hu noticed that men do NOT wear shorts in the mall, or anywhere else that we went.

Another observation is that furniture and accessories have a much brighter color trend here. This red plastic table and translucent chairs would be very appealing in an all-white kitchen. Some of the other displays were equally as intense, modern and bright; quite different from what is normally seen in U.S. stores.

This is the winter season in this part of the world until May, when summer starts. There are really only those two seasons here. This is also the rainy season, so it often rains after noon. The temperature and humidity are pleasantly balanced so that even when it rains, it is not as oppressive as I have found it in Florida. Lots of locals carry umbrellas, which I found surprising since even as rainy as it got in Florida, I seldom saw people using umbrellas for protection.

Spanish is the dominant language, but the residents are friendly and patient as I struggle with my Spanish. It's been a great day decompressing from the stress of trying to get here and on to the retreat in Colombia. In this picture from our hotel room you can see the Caribbean. which we tried to walk to see, but it was an impossible task with all the freeways.

We have plans tomorrow to go and see the Panama Canal. More pictures!!!

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