Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Merry Christmas (in August) from Panama!


     It's August 22nd and they're already putting up Christmas decorations in the stores at the mall here in Panama City. OK, I checked the archives...this is officially a record, folks.  YIKES. :-/




             Unbelievable. Please tell me they don't have Christmas stuff up yet in the states...


                Is that a Christmas decoration made out of a dice? I would think you would need
              to go to Vegas to buy one of those...(is it Christmas in Vegas yet? Anybody know?)

   
                     
                                 By the way, gambling is very popular here in Panama City.


They actually have casinos built right into the shopping malls, like the one above,
 conveniently located right next to the food court




       We're continuing to see evidence all over the place of how the world loves American culture. This ad, apparently for "New York" cologne (do we really want to smell like New York? But anyway, I digress) was in the Allbrook Mall here in Panama City (not far from the Christmas decorations in August and the casino by the food court).

    When I first saw this, I had to ask: Who is that guy in the photo? It's not Derek Jeter or A-Rod. To me it looks like the actor Owen Wilson, who I'm pretty sure was never a Yankee.

    Well, probably only die hard American baseball fans know that the guy in the photo is (long dead and possibly frozen, if you believe the lore) Ted Williams.   Anyway, it surprises me that they would put this display up in Panama. It doesn't seem like it would resonate for people here.

                 I do know that Panamanians are big Yankee fans for one simple reason:


            The legendary closer Mariano Rivera is Panamanian. He's the pride of the country.


 
             We found this motivational book by Magic Johnson for sale in the mall as well. It translates roughly as "32 Steps to Being a Champion Negotiator." I guess I was surprised to think that Panamanians would even know who Magic Johnson is,  let alone want to get his advice on how to succeed in business...



      In other news, Panama is celebrating their birthday this week. They're like 514 years old or something like that. Way, way WAY older than the US. We went to the town celebration, which was held at the ruins of the original settlement back in the 1500's.



     Notice the ads on the TV news van at the town celebration. They have Spanish versions of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "The Wheel of Fortune." More trickle-down American culture -- even way, way down here in Panama...



    The men who built these ruins were conquistadors from Europe.  There were few native peoples here in Panama when the Europeans arrived, so they found the land pretty much free for the taking.



I loved this soccer field set up right on top of the ancient ruins. It's the old and the new together...



This amazing vine tree was in the park with the ruins. It's gigantic. To my horror, Chris actually tried his "Tarzan" routine out on one of the vines, and lived to tell the tale...




 We met these lovely sisters at the Panama birthday celebration. They were as angelic and graceful in real life as they look in the shot. (This is probably my favorite photo that I have taken so far on this trip.)     :-)     There are thousands of Panamanian citizens of Afro-Caribbean descent. They came here 100 years ago from Jamaica and Barbados to help build the canal.




      We took a cab home from the birthday celebration, but the cab died on the trip. Chris and Howard helped the guy push start it. Many of the cabs here are very old and run down. We've actually helped push start three of our cabs since we've been here...


Fortunately, we have other forms of transportation, thanks to our friends Rick and Deena of Talaria who bequeathed us their portable bikes. We've had so much fun tooling around Panama City! 





...but we have to time our bike rides around the sqalls that come through, like the one above...



The storms come through hard and fast





 But most of our time is spent aboard installing the new equipment. In the photo above, Chris is happily crowded out as some of the new equipment fills the galley of Espiritu.







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