Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cuidad de Panama Oriente

This is the skyscraper district from the east side of town.

This is what a skyscraper neighborhood looks like from street level.

Panama Viejo, ruins of the original settlement of Panama City which was destroyed by enemies in the late 17th century.

Multi Plaza Mall, Cuidad de Panama

The Multi Plaza Mall is probably the most upscale spot in Panama City.

Casco Antiguo, Old Panama City

Casco Antiguo, the oldest functioning part of the city. Some of it has been fabulously restored and much more is in process. On the other hand the greater area appears dangerous. 2 policeman practically forbade me to cross the street one block from my hotel, which appears to be the unmarked dividing line.

Panama City Skyline available to license from Alamy Stock Photos

Afternoon over the harbor. The new skyline is impressive from a distance. However, the modern area isn't particularly exciting for a pedestrian. The tall buildings are situated away from the street and the sidewalk is discontinuous from building to building and often very narrow. I didn't notice enough plazas or parks. In three words, suburban skyscraper village. 

The view is from Casco Viejo, an old district of the city. I stayed in Hotel Colon, reputed to be the same one William Burroughs was at on his route south, described in "Queer", to find the drug "Yage".

Monday, July 18, 2011

Letter: Arriving in Panama City from San Jose, Costa Rica

...Answering a friend, lightly, whether or not I would be in the "Peace Corps". I would consider a Peace Corps posting handing out condoms and donuts in the Alameda (D.F., Mexico) to the prostitutes. I'd do aids and STD talks too. Mexicans are grateful to receive something for free so its a pleasure to give to them. They don't turn down food, and it seems like americans often do.

The inevitable 1 to 2 hour hotel search with my wheely suitcase in each new city is something i could do without. Finding a cheap hotel is hard, and saying its difficult to do in some of the poorest countries, may mean im not being realistic about what i want to pay. 15 dollars a nite really isnt enough to budget. 25 dollars a nite is about the price of the 3rd world Americas these days. You would have choices and could arrive to one hotel populated neighborhood, spend 20 minutes and get something nice. Getting the deal is too much work. I do have a place for 15.40. that took 2 hours wheeling around Panama City and visiting perhaps 15 hotels plus 2 hours prior research on web. Same routine in more than one place ive been. I have shared bath no tv but do have weak internet signal which means more to me than tv or even a private bathroom. On the bigger benefit side, the place is full of foreign hipsters and it gives me a feeling of safety I dont have at the local hotels that rent by the hour. I found one of those for 12 with tv and bathroom but they were playing hard to get and I felt like a leech asking for a room, when the successive clerks had little patience for me. After a wasted wait and what had seemed like an ok from one young clerk i was told to come back in a few hours because it was too early to offically rent to me, by another, and here it became ridiculous the impediments to making the deal for a 12 dollar room that was available at that moment ON A MONDAY.

Panamanians failed hotel school as far as i can tell. But if you want to work as a hotel clerk, this would be the place to do it. In my actual hotel my request for a table in my room was turned down. I needed it to put my borrowed fan on. Told it couldnt be done, that no way the table in the next room could come to my room as the fan had. It was a decision that required friends in the Kremlin and just workers on duty. Eventually I got it by pleading heart and now have a trashpicked table with wobbly legs from next door. I work magic on people.

Hopefully no more 16 hour bus rides like the last 2 days from San Jose. in fact i did enjoy it but not the following hotel search.

Panama City in old town looks like old town in Mazatlan, Mexico but the surrounding area here is much more lush vegetation. The newer, bigger downtown looks pretty cold and hard times. San Jose is cuddly in comparson. But old town charms.

Costa Rica landscape is uplifting to watch and although san jose may be ugly it does seem friendlier and safer than all the other CA cities.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Tegucigalpa is a mountain city and has an old historic, thriving downtown with narrow streets. I was warned often of dangerous blocks and did not stay out late as it wasn't recommended. Too bad, as it has a good character for a city and the various urban zones seem well integrated with each other and easy to get from one to another. The above landscape near the market reminded me of El Greco's "Toledo".

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada is supposed to be the oldest colonial city in the Americas. I assume that means continously populated. It is very easy to photograph. Primarily because it feels relatively safe compared to other locations I've been to in Central America. It's a tourist town and perhaps the residents realize they have to put up with foreign photographers. I was able to walk the market without much fear of being assaulted and left my camera outside of my bag, where I kept it hidden in more dangerous settings. Granada feels quite similar to Antigua in Guatemala and also to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico. All three are famous tourist towns.


Managua, Nicaragua

 Managua was hard to photograph. The big and busy market offered lots of subjects but it felt too dangerous. Lots of eyes were on me, even without the camera out. And also it was very hot and humid. The photo above is from the nacional museum. It must be a copy of rock/cave art. Really impressive samples, this was among many (rupestre).

Here is the shell of main cathedral which was damaged I believe in an earthquake. The old financial district collapsed and it's rebuilding took place in the suburbs, not downtown.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Pictures of San Salvador, capital of El Salvador

I went up to the volcano on one side of San Salvador to hike, "el boqueron," the big mouth in english. I walked a long time through coffee cultivations and finally interesected with the main road. It started raining heavily and of course my shoes got soaked which is the worst part of rain. On the way down i discovered a garden around an electrical transfer tower and took the nature shots.

When I returned to downtown San Salvador I walked around and took the urban shots. The downtown area is packed with street stalls and has a bustling character. The surrounding suburbs are more upscale and packed with modern malls. Presumably, the downtown area is the most dangerous.