Saturday, 22 June 2013

Panama...06-13 APRIL 2013
Splended! Every building in Panama is unique in character

My return journey from Bogota was via Panama city, as my base air lines was Copa air. I had planned it that way, so that I could relax here and also witness the historic Panama canal ..I have bee hearing about it since my childhood. It was such a contrast in life style and cultural change from Colombia to Panama city.It is just like any North American cities.Most of the big global corporations invest here in real estate for tax evasions.

Started the day with two Pancakes cooked myself with the batter provided at the hostel and coffee.Papa Burger king for lunch.. And Pollo sand-which at the Subway for dinner..ends the first day in Panama and a complete relaxation in the hostel.
Second day.. Just roamed around the hostel..had a cafe late in the multicentro mall and window shopping.In the evening a walk along the Ocean in front of all the tall and beautifully architectured  buildings .. the business district.
The ship is comig and the doors are opening ..The Panama Canal.
The  ship is entering from the pacific to go to The Atlantic.
Third day... Visited the Canal de Panama..with all its grandeur. Surprised to get a senior`s discount . Lucky me.. as there was a ship passing thr while I was there..a small boat though.. Witnessed the whole transition from the pacific end to the Atlantic. Canaal itself is a wonder.. connecting the two oceans..made possible by  cutting thr the most difficult of the jungle terrains.. some hundreds years back.Panamanian Govt is now expanding the passage by building a parallel Canal bigger and wider to allow the passage of new huge ships .Canal is the most revenue earner of the Country... via tourists....Cargo's and the cruise lines ..
The trip to the Canal,the cause way and the Airbrook mall could have costed more thanCAD 200 as originally planned.But my host, Adan dropped me  near the Canal, senior`s discount at the entrance,  after visiting the Canal , walked for ten minutes to the highway take a bus instead of the US 10 for the taxi to go to the Airbrook mall. Was lucky to get a ride ( unusual, in this part of the world) from a truck driver. . who deviated from his destination route to drop me at the main gate of the mall.Got the bus pass for US2 and paid .25C for the ride en route to the beautiful causeway..Took a shared taxi with onePanamanian waiting at the bus stop. Just lucky too, on the return when a occupied taxi stopped and asked only USD 5 for the return ride home.

The downtown sky line from the fish market
Fourth day....While sharing our stories and discussing the Psyche of the Panama city with its problems and positives..the country without a sense of belonging..everything is foreign.. the money, the people, the culture, the food. Leading the topics and discussions was Micahel,  a Russian, looked like quiet conversant in Panamaian politics. 
Michael approached me and asked if I could go for a walk with him  to the market. We walked around the city for couple of hours and became very friendly. He liked Indianculture and  believed in Hindu way of life. He had an Indian business partner way back in Russia.
Micahel and I went for hike up the Ancon ( used to be the American naval headquarters for the operations and security of the Canal) mountain overlooking the entire city.. a 360 degrees view..  sky touching buildings of the centro..the Canal de Panama view , the entrance of the ships from the causeway area and the islands . We walked right from the hostel all the way up.. a total of four hour walk ending in a traditional restaurant with aSuncocho soup and a big plate of vegetable fried rice for the very hungry stomach.
View of downtown from the old town Casco Viejo
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall-Confucius 

Enroute,Michael , all of a sudden, started sharing his life history with me. And what a story. What a man. At 38 he he has experienced life's tragedies, teen adventure of shooting real people in the Russian war in Georgia, his 14 year brother shot dead in front of his eyes, he was jailed at 13 for life. Was chosen to be the mafia boss, while imprisoned  for the 3 jails in Georgia overlooking some 2000 prisoners. His word was final. When shot in the head , he came back from being dead to life after 3 months.Owned the biggest disco nite club in Georgia with 5000 capacity. Successfully started a resource company to help corporations find management executives. Claims he has a MBA  from a known American university. You could talk to him on any subject under the sun.He is recluse now, perhaps hiding from the mafia bosses, far away in the mountains of Panama in a secured gated gringo apartment complex.

While we were going back to the hostel, a luxury looking van stopped right in the middle ofthe busy road and black men said hello from the window. They spoke to Michael for few minutes and I found myself in the van going with these guys.After some discussions, Michael turns to me and said that he has go with them for an important deal, they need his help. I was dropped near the hostel. Michel never came that nite. I shifted back to Adan. I never saw Michel again.

Watched a 10PM comedy movie with Adan and Carmina..Adan`s friend .

Is she a model or  a salesgirl negotiating  her handicrafts with the visitors?
Fifth day .. Shifted back from the Couchsurfer Adan`s place to the hostel..Went by the metro bus to the Panama de viejao..the ruined city..Put on fire by the notorious pirate Captain Morgan 1623.Restorations are in progress.Every other day they find something interesting. Cooked some Japanese rice , were delicious with teriyaki sauce and garlic.
Local mechandise in Panama de Viejo
Sixth day:A relaxed morning. Had a great walk for 5 hours around the historic city  CascoViejo..being renovated all over.. has been declared the Heritage city by UN heritage...The ruins, looks like, want to speak and tell about their past..they are coming alive. Old prisons..being turned into chic restaurants,, bars.Streets lined with vendors selling locally made handicrafts, jewellery.. 
Colonial buildigs being renovated and restored
Returned via Caledonia area.. they say it is the toughest and roughest part of the city .. with robbers, pic pockets abounding..but walking in the main street was normal.. just like walking along China town..main and east ..or any street in Bangkok or Mumbai..Had a banana and a  vegetable lady cut avocado for me..lunch at one of the oldest restaurant with rice and lentils...had a coke from a tienda..By the way all the tiendas  ( neighbourhood stores) are owned by Chinese..nobody else can have them.

 The walking street that extends from Plaza Cinco de Mayo to Parque Santa Ana is one of the most vibrant parts of town. A bustling commercial center that draws a cross-section of Panamanian society, it takes visitors back to an older Panama City that is still very much alive.
 Founded nearly 500 years ago, this original Panama City was the first Spanish city on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Its stone ruins transport one back to the time of gold-hungry conquistadors and pillaging buccaneers.

It seems, in fact, that the more advanced a society is, the greater will be its interest in ruined things, for it will see in them a redemptively sobering reminder of the fragility of its own achievements. Ruins pose a direct challenge to our concern with power and rank, with bustle and fame. They puncture the inflated folly of our exhaustive and frenetic pursuit of wealth.” 
― Alain de BottonThe Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

This charming colonial neighbourhood is the cornerstone of modern Panama City. It was founded in 1673 after the sacking of Panamá la Vieja, and an ambitious renovation project has brought restaurants, theatres, and clubs to its historic buildings, sidewalk cafés to its quaint plazas, and new life to its crumbling churches. It’s the most colourful part of Panama City.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Micahel and I are in touch with each other. I am encouraging him to write his memoirs. Here are couple of them in his own words. You can feel the agony and pain he is carrying with him, while being treated for brain tumour. His mother just died.I want to help him but he is very unpredictable.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Micahel and I are in touch witheach other. I am encourging him to write his memoirs. Here are couple of them in his own words. You can feel the agony and pain he is carrying with him, while being treated for brain toumour. His mother just died.I want to help him but he is very unperdiatable.

Michael, my friend in Panama.

No pain, not even tiers, last I saw before my eyes closed for 3 month was my brothers dead body! Oh shit is not movie, it is not dream it happened to us …….

Opening eyes was difficult and very painful, never could imagine that little lamp light can be so painful. Faces so familiar and lovely, faces smiling though pain, scars of big tragedy, all is wrong! Shadows disappear slowly, I see more clear now. Everybody whom I love is here, except one, my brother. I look carefully to each of their faces, horrible scares of pain, eyes dried of tears. Memories came back, my brother is dead, tears fall without asking, dead body, darkness…..

I felt that my darkness, my sleep was short, I asked my sister, only one in our family very strong from inside out, tuff.

  • Tamri tell me!!! We always had strange connection, she knew what I wanted to know.
  • Misha they killed Kakha and shoted you, you were 3 month in coma.
Ever popular , the fish market

This fucked up tiers fall down again, they never ask!! I wanted back in darkness.
Three days later I was out from hospital. My parents took me to a very little two bedroom apartment. This is not our flat?! Our was big, with lot of sun and five bedrooms. All savings, family jewelry, cars, house, even my grandmother’s favorite plate collection, paid bill of life support machine for a dream that I will open my eyes. In this small rented apartment I lost the time, day and night had no difference. Only sadness and faces of those whom I knew forever and loved more than anything. My family big family my friends and my best friend Nika, whom we Siki, 13 years old. Longest time we have been apart, when one of us was going to bathroom for needs. My Siki, short, dark, fast and furious, was always with me, this tuff boy was cleaning my bedroom, was cleaning me and was helping to change underwear. The people who called themselves street boys were scared like shit of him and he was like a brother soft and sweet taking care of me! Always together 14 my years and 13 his years. Time was slow, my health was getting better, my depression stronger. Once one family relative one of those ladies who spend their weekends in church praying to God, teaching everybody around but with incredible dirty soul, for whom the religion became a curtain to hide her real face named Mzia and hated by me, entered my room, mentioning Jesus and: Mikheil when you were in coma you have seen light, the road to our great God, which sad to you that it was not your time and sanded you back! Amin! It was more statement then a question. I had no wish to answer her, turned on other side were Nika was sleeping and my thought took me to my brother, and this tears again, they never ask! Pain was there and I felt how my depression became ten times stronger. Oh yes coma, light, road to God! Truly I have seen nothink just darkness!
Days went on, health became better, depression stronger. One night Siki and me went out for walk, then we set on bench in front of the house.
--- Misha do you want weed?
--- as you want! My thought were in different place, hugging and kissing my brother.
--- wait here! I will be back soon!
--- ok!

 “Some ruins of ancient times are much more beautiful than the best buildings of modern eras!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan
I watched my friends short body going to get weed, maybe heroin as well! Again alone, pain in chest, tears again! I missed Kaxa, pain was incredible. I took out my Makarow (Russian made gun), and looked at it, great desire to pull the trigger and finish my misery. This whish was like venom of snake, it started in mind and shortly it was controlling all of me! I was looking at gun, searching inner strength to make final step, but with side vision I saw Siki coming back with big smile, he got weed, maybe heroin too! He saw gun, his walk became run, he came and shouted: -- give me that you sick mother fucker! He knew what was going with me, he always knew my feelings! HE WAS 13 YEARS OLD! I gave him gun, he set down next to me! Know he will shout on me! Instead with very calm voice told: -- I know how you feel, I feel the same maybe more. One brother is dead and another alive dead!
Suddenly he put his head from left side to my head, took my hand and forced me to put my hand with gun to his head from right! – pull the trigger, let one bullet kill us two, always together, just shut the fuck up and pull the trigger! We go together! – he was 13, tears without asking came out, scream filled the yard, pain was incredible but life beautiful because there was Siki, and my parents and my sister and my beautiful friends! We were one, we had same pain felt in same way! God is Great! I saw the light! I whispered I LOVE YOU ! I LOVE YOU! YOU CRAZY SON OF BITCH!
8 years gone, I am crying and whispering I love you, I love you, I love you, hugging and kissing still warm Siki’s dead body – today I will take you out from Jail! He was only 13!

Ruins in the totally demolished Panama de Viejo
Breath taking view of the old port from the fort, Panama de Viejo

Due to my constant mistakes, stupidity and craziness I was forced to run away from my motherland and due to my shit brain, which I never was able to understand how it was functioning, from one end of the globe i ended up to the opposite end of the earth in the country named Republic Arroz Con Pollo. Besides of funny and creative name by time I understood that actually it was not Republic but it simple was middle size mental disorders hospital, with 3.2 million resident patients and over 2 million visiting patient every year, not for treatment but just to similar people and raise self-confidence with understanding that they are not alone. By the time I became a resident patient to this Hospital named {Republic Arroz Con Pollo]. By time my self-confidence became ok and being among similar I felt that actually I have never done mistakes and bad things and this made my life easy. Except the funny name, which you have to agree is a very creative, the hospital was well organized. The men who created this I think were the king of craziness and he wanted to make hospital for himself to live and die! (By the way we all die). Hospital had two extremely big swimming pools connected with a tube and we patients named it a channel and proudly was explaining to a visitor patients that this was one of the biggest wonders of the World, maybe in Universe. Other major invention of what we patient were proud off was the seasons of the year. When in most Constitutional Democratic countries and in some Social or Peoples Republics was winter, we in hospital believed that we had summer, and when they had summer we were sure that we had winter. All of us brains were occupied with more critical things we decided to make it easy, do not put in our hard working creative minds additional shit and we just ignored the seasons like spring and autumn. It became simple logical and easy two seasons summer and Winter. The heating system in our hospital was set to and constant worm degree all year long. We even wanted to make only one season due to the heating system but after long thoughts and discussions of 1 minute we decided to make it to as mentioned above. After other hard work this time of 2 minutes and constructive debates of over 30 seconds we agreed that the landmark of difference between two seasons will be rain. In our hospital we were able to feel winter when the rain was coming and in dry season we all understood that it was summer and this invention made us more self-confident and self-satisfied. With this we resolved this minor problem and went on to our global critical and strategic problems of bear, rice, chicken, reagatone, soap operas, sex, gambling, drugs, carnivals and other similar important issues which required our full time dedication and hard work! This hard work was conducted together with also very difficult physical task of drinking bear with ice cubes ( my apologies to Germans for this insult, but we are crazy) it is indeed good excuse to those who protect human rights!....

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