January 2011 Archives

Panama - Lichen-Painted Bark

On the grounds of the little zoo El Nispero in El Valle de Anton - a patch of tree trunk handsomely decorated by lichens.

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Panama - Tropical Leaves

There's something irresistibly sensuous about clusters of full, wet, rich green leaves.

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Panama - Trees in the Cloud Forest

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Panama - Golden Frogs

El Nispero, the little zoo in El Valle de Anton, houses some of the famous Panamanian golden frogs in realistically landscaped glass display cases. These frogs are found in the forests on the outskirts of El Valle and elsewhere in Panama, but they - like amphibians around the world - are threatened by the deadly fungus Chytridiomycosis. The display is carefully sanitized, and constitutes one of the few chances to prevent extinction of these frogs.

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El Valle de Anton - Zoo

The little mountain town of El Valle de Anton has a pleasant, small zoo called "El Nispero". It houses some colorful birds and an ocelot.

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It also has a collection of endangered frogs and much luxuriant vegetation, things that we'll see in following posts.

Panama - Painted Buses

Older buses in Panama are often gaily painted, the work of craftsmen who specialize in such decoration. We're told that this is likely to disappear as the old buses are replaced with newer, more efficient ones.

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Panama - El Valle Market

A couple more images of characteristic Panama products in the market at El Valle de Anton.

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Panama - El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton is a town of about 9,000 people about 1.5 hours drive from Panama City. The town is located in the flat wide crater 6 km wide of a volcano that has been dormant for around five million years. Because of its elevation (600m), it is cooler than the Panamanian lowlands. (Wikipedia).

The town has a well-known crafts market, including some tourist-oriented kitsch. Here are a couple of examples.

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Casco Viejo - Church Decoration

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(click to enlarge) The Iglesia de San Jose near Casco Viejo has a deservedly famous, spectacular gold altar.

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(click to enlarge) I'm not sure which church this and the next picture are from. (I'm not a good record-keeper.) Might be the Iglesia de la Merced a block or so away from the Iglesia de San Jose and the Cathedral. In any case, the light and colors are nice.

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Casco Viejo - Balconies

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(click to enlarge) Casco Viejo, like New Orleans, has some nice balconies. These fellows got into the spirit when I motioned whether I could take their picture.

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(click to enlarge) These guys, not so much.

Casco Viejo - Ladies

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(click to enlarge) A corrugated metal wall in Casco Viejo was painted with beguiling ladies.

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(click to enlarge) And then an exemplar of the type walked by, and kindly agreed to pose.

Casco Viejo - Weeds and Walls

To my eye, at least, weeds against a weathered wall in a vacant lot make an attractive picture.

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Casco Viejo - Derelict Buildings

Casco Viejo, the old part of Panama City, has many derelict buildings. Some are (very slowly) being restored, some are not. Most are picturesque.

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Casco Viejo - Xmas Bike

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(click to enlarge) Two boys walking across a bridge with what I assume is a Christmas present bicycle. They look at it so solicitously!

Casco Viejo - Crafts

Indigenous Panamanian people make fine crafts: molas from the Kuna of the San Blas Islands, baskets from the Wounaan Embera, and masks perhaps also from the Embera.

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Panama City - Casco Viejo

The most picturesque part of Panama City is Casco Viejo (also called Casco Antiguo), which means "Old Part". The cathedral is located in the center, and when we got there on Christmas Day we found families with children opening presents and just finishing cake and ice cream.

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Panama City - Puzzles and Pizzazz

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(click to enlarge) Corner store with glass and mirrors.

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(click to enlarge) National Theater of Panama. More information here.

Panama City - Biodiversity Museum

Panama has perhaps the greatest biodiversity (number of plant and animal species) in the world. Appropriately, therefore, a museum devoted to biodiversity, designed by Frank Gehry (the architect of our own Weisman Museum at the University of Minnesota), is under construction in Panama City.

The building features Gehry's characteristic jumble of shapes, but will be faced with big slabs in primary colors. See models and sketches here. Design began in 1999, and construction in 2003, with completion scheduled for 2007. But this is the state as of January 2011:

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(click to enlarge) On a tree outside the fence surrounding the construction site, biodiversity in action.

Panama City - Street Scenes

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(click to enlarge) On a pleasant side street, Via Argentina, with nice shops and restaurants, an attractive interplay of tiled roofs ...

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(click to enlarge) ... and then this: Rocking Gorilla!

Panama City - Downtown

A couple of photos in Panama City's downtown:

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Panama City - Urban Color

Some scenes from the center of Panama City, full of the color and amusing juxtapositions that make street photography so much fun.

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Panama City - Barbed Wire

Every city has areas marked off-limits with barbed wire, and Panama City is no exception. The challenge is to make visually interesting photos of rather ugly scenes. Here are three attempts.

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Panama City - Revolution Tower

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(click to enlarge) I was intrigued by this partly-finished, helical building in the distance. Our guide said it's called Revolution Tower. A Google search yielded its web site with a picture of the model.

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(click to enlarge) When finished, it will be a mixed-use office and condominium building. It was started in 2007, scheduled to be completed in 2009, but is still incomplete. Many optimistic building projects in Panama City have been stalled by the economic downturn.

Panama City Skyscrapers

Panama City has a remarkable number of skyscrapers, newly built or under construction. It's fun to photograph them from different viewpoints, making new combinations of structures.

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Panama City Cartoon Characters

Along Avenida Balboa, which runs beside the Pacific in downtown Panama City, there was a large collection of more-than-lifesize circus and Disney characters, which looked as if they had been mounted on floats for a holiday parade. Incongruous, especially with skyscrapers as backdrop, but fun.

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Panama City Wires

Shiny new skyscrapers are usually found in the big cities of first-world countries, while unruly tangles of electrical wire are typical of cities in third-world or developing countries. What, then, is one to make of these scenes from Panama City?

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Panama City Nativity Displays

In my first posting from Panama City, a few days ago, I mentioned how impressed we were by the abundance of large and elaborate nativity displays. Here are some more examples.

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Panama - Wildlife in the Canal

On our last day in Panama, we took a boat ride in the Panama Canal, specifically in the huge artificial Lake Gatun, looking for wildlife. It's a healthy ecosystem, and we saw lots of animals.

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(click to enlarge) Capuchin Monkey

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(click to enlarge) Crocodile

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(click to enlarge) Iguana

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(click to enlarge) Hawk

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(click to enlarge) Heron

Now we're back home in cold, dry, snowy Minnesota --- quite a contrast from warm, humid, rainy Panama. It was a great trip. Many more photos to come.


Panama City Skyscrapers

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(Click to enlarge) Panama City has many impressive skyscrapers ...

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(Click to enlarge) ... but the view is often spoiled by uncontrolled tangles of electrical wire.

Panama - Coffee Plantation

We're back in Panama City after a fine few days in the western countryside. Flying back home tomorrow, early morning. There will be many pictures from Panama, a most photogenic country, but here are a couple more from the Finca Lerida coffee plantation, showing some of the production steps.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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February 2011 is the next archive.

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