Thursday, September 14, 2006

Is it possible to be homesick for somewhere you've only spent 112 hours?

It must be true, because that's what it feels like. I spent less than 5 days in Panama City, Panama but those hours were full of wonderful experiences. I'll try to capture some idea of them here.

I had a specific goal on this trip, that is, research for the web pages at
maestr Most of my time was spent either talking to musicians or visiting Casco Viejo.

Here is the view across Panama Bay to the newest part of the city, the business district, in Paitilla.
There is building everywhere - cranes sticking up into the sky for new skyscrapers and fancy buildings. But there is also a lot of poverty, sometimes right under those cranes.

Here on the bay is the historical part of the city. The building at left is the Palacio de Gobierno, with the Teatro Nacional next to it. To the right is the Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis. Not far away is the Presidential Palace.

Restorations of the unique historical buldings is gradually progressing in Casco Viejo, a World Heritage Site.

The street behind the Palacio de Gobierno shows the contrast.

We didn't get as much time to walk around this area as I would have liked. There were some areas of real decay and poverty, but with so much building going on, it will be a different place in a few years.

Some are works in progress...

While some buildings sit waiting for attention.

This building, like so many others I photographed, is on the Parque Herrera.

Notice the interesting electrical techniques:

Casco Viejo is also the site of the old Club Unión, which was destroyed in the U.S. invasion in 1989.

Here are some other photos across the bay.

This one is towards the Canal, toward Chorrillo and Cerro Ancón, away from the city itself, taken from Plaza Francia.

The Bridge of the Americas, spanning the Canal, connecting the split halves of Panama.

Here is the city skyline as seen from the Amador Causeway.

¡Muchas gracias!

Para Jorge y la familia Alegria:
Mrs. Silia de Alegría, Jorge Alegría,
Mr. Jorge Alegría M., and Silia Alegría

Estoy agradecida por su amabilidad y su generosidad.

I cannot express in either English or español how much I appreciate your hospitality and kindness to me during my visit.

¡Y también Tony and Marina de Zarak, gracias por toda su ayuda! Thank you for everything.

To Luis Arteaga, thank you for all your time and patience, and your excellent driving. Thank you for making all those interviews happen! And thank you for helping us retrieve the pieces of ourselves we sprinkled everywhere... I look forward to your new cd!

Lastly, thanks to our wonderful taxi driver Rodolfo Bethencourt "Tito" (No. 9818) and his car.

He took good care of us, introduced us to restaurants and characters, and helped us locate the Centro de Capacitación Ascanio Arosemena.

¡Muchas gracias!



Anonymous said...

Alison, this is fascinating. Not just a visit, but total immersion! Do you happen to know how the developments will affect the people who are currently living in the areas of poverty? Is there any kind of programme underway for them? And yes, I think it IS possible to be homesick for a place where you've only been for 112 hours--some places grab your soul and don't let go. :) Jane xx

Anonymous said...

That old architecture is gorgeous! Lovely pictures. I'm interested in the questions Jane asked above, too. ~Teresa

Anonymous said...

thanks for the link to the speech, Alison. Let's hope the developments don't leave the people behind. I know there must be many (some in the government, perhaps, I wonder who??) who must feel strongly. I get the impression that Panama is in many ways a young country with all the attendant problems of growth and expansion. But it's very beautiful, and the people seem fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison:

The pictures of Panama were great to see. I used to travel there a long time ago and these are the first photos I have seen in years. Your write up on Ruben was quite good and true to the facts.
EMusica who bought Fania is going to be re-leasing a remastered Maestra Vida I-II. They pulled the first release because the liner notes were so bad and they got complaints. Aurora Flores wrote the new notes and they are very good and accurate.

Paula C.

Alison said...

Thanks for the comments! I'm sure there have been many changes in the last couple decades - and there will be many more. I only hope there aren't TOO many changes, and that the gracious, confident panameños don't get sick of us...

I hope to see the reissued Maestra Vida I and II soon. I'm sure they got many complaints about the notes. I posted my observations to a newsgroup which were forwarded to Emusica, and an executive actually called me, and asked me to look at the new notes. They are in fact wonderful!


Anonymous said...

Saludos Alison como te encuentras, te escribí anteriormente para felicitarte por tu excelente trabajo en tu página sobre Ruben Blades, tremenda documentación tienes Alison, sabes como sé que recopilas todo lo que tiene que ver con Ruben Blades, quería hacerte saber que encontré una entrevista realizada a Ruben Blades del mes de julio de este mismo año, por la revista Colombiana "Semana", la coloqué en el foro de Ruben Blades, te dejo el Site, si te interesa amiga.

Espero te llegue este mensaje, que tengas un lindo día y te deseo muchos exitos.