Archive for December, 2009
In order to rake in a few extra bucks to ease my perennial pocket pains, I provide transportation from Tocumen International Airport to Panama City and vice versa. It’s no big deal, but extra pocket money is always welcomed.
Recently, I provided transportation to a tourist from Canada coming to see Panama City for the first time. He was visiting a friend he had met in Oshawa. After dropping him at his friend’s home, he requested my transportation services for a city tour and a visit to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.
When I picked him up to start the city tour, he said he wanted to have breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts. I said, “No problem.” I was wrong. I knew there were several Dunkin’ Donuts in Panama, but I couldn’t find them at the moment. My customer settled for a well-known Greek restaurant known as Nikos Café. After breakfast, we went ahead with the city tour and the Miraflores Visit as scheduled.
I returned home uncomfortable for not being able to take Raaid Batarfi—the name of my client—to Dunkin’ Donuts. I went to the Yellow Pages and found exactly where their sites were. I found three, more or less near where Raaid was staying. Several days later, I called and invited him to have breakfast at DD. He accepted.
On Tuesday, December 29, 2009 we headed to DD approximately at 10:00 a.m. The traffic was light and we had no problems finding a parking space nearby. I had a croissant sandwich with eggs and sausage, a large donut and a Cappuccino. Raaid ordered an egg-and-cheese sandwich, a chocolate donut and coffee with milk. It was a delicious meal. It was the first time I had visited a DD site in my life. I’m not much of a donut eater and neither is my wife. However, I plan to return with my wife. I enjoyed the food and the excellent customer service provided by Catalina. You will see her later on this post.
Another benefit that I liked about DD, was the availability of WiFi. Many young people flock to this place in order to take advantage of this service. So did we. Raaid immediately installed his jazzy Sony Vaio laptop on a nearby table and tinkered with his ubiquitous Apple iPhone. As you know, I gave myself a Chinese iPhone clone for my birthday and asked Raaid to help me getting around using it, since it has many features similar to his authentic iPhone.
Raaid patiently taught me how to use the FM radio, the TV and to surf the Web with Opera Web browser amongst many other things. The WiFi feature worked flawlessly. It was a wonderful experience. I told Raaid, that, that morning I had jumped from the Middle Ages to the XXth Century. I still needed a little more help to get to the XXIst Century. (Smile).
After a thorough iPhone class, we finished our breakfast and headed towards the Mercado de Artesanías located at Plaza Cinco de Mayo where Raaid planned to buy small gifts for his friends back in Canada. I provided you with pictures of a mola painting yesterday at this original handicrafts market.
Our visit to DD was frozen in time with a couple of pictures, as you probably would have guessed. Seldom do I leave home without my Birthday camera. This is what I saw through the lens of my small Canon PowerShot A720 IS. Here we go.
This was a most enjoyable experience. Raaid is a bright young man with deep knowledge of technology and provided great assisstance with my new phone. If you ever come to this part of the world, remember that Dunkin’ Donuts is here with WiFi communication service. Oh…and you can’t beat Catalina’s bright smile. Good Day.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit el Mercado de Artesanías located at Plaza 5 de Mayo in Panama City, Panama. I was there for approximately two hours and loved every second. It was an exciting place, full of color, shapes, textures and patterns. A paradise, I might say, for an incipient photographer like myself. My eyes were always busy looking everywhere for a good shot. I got one.
It was a painting of a Kuna Indian woman sewing a mola. Molas constitute an important symbol of the Kuna culture. Molas are hand-made using a reverse appliqué technique. Several layers (usually two to seven) of different-colored cloth (usually cotton) are sewn together; the design is then formed by cutting parts of each layer away. The edges of the layers are then sewn down; the finest molas have extremely fine stitching, made using tiny needles.
Molas have their origin in the body painting. Only after the colonization by the Spanish and contact with missionaries, the Kuna started to transfer their traditional geometric designs on fabric; first by painting directly on the fabric, and later by using the technique of reverse application. It is not known for certain when this technique was first used. It is assumed that the oldest molas are between 150 and 170 years old.
As an inspiration for their designs, the Kuna first used the geometrical patterns which have been used for body painting before. In the past 50 years, they also started to depict realistic and abstract designs of flowers, sea animals and birds.
The picture below is an original painting created by Nichole’s sister. Nichole is an owner of a small kiosk inside the craftsmen’s market. She is a very attractive young lady. I loved the rich bright colors she used to highlight the Kuna culture. Nichole showed us her sister’s paintings with great pride. I selected the following picture as my favorite. I’m sure you’ll share my taste.
Here we go.
You will never know what you will find at a craftsmen’s market. The creativity of the common grassroots artist is absolutely amazing. If you return to Lingua Franca, I’ll show you other remarkable pieces of art made by humble artisans of Panama. I know you will enjoy their fine folk art. Good Day.
Experts agree that she was “total emotional and musical honesty, coupled with a technique that was so fine that it often went unnoticed. “ However, for her, she was only a trained freak.
I’m referring to Great Britain’s musical genius Jacqueline du Pré who died at the early age of 42 from MS (multiple sclerosis) which affected her nervous system. Jackie, as she was known, awed the world with her outstanding skill to play the cello.
She is particularly associated with Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor; her interpretation of that work has been described as “definitive” and “legendary”.
Her career was abruptly interrupted by multiple sclerosis, which banned her out of the musical community at the early age of 28, and led to her premature death. Following her death, her older sister Hilary du Pré and younger brother Piers, wrote a book about their family life, A Genius in the Family. It was the basis for the movie “Hilary and Jackie”, and both aroused fierce controversy.
I streamed this movie two days ago. It moved me deeply for two main reasons—for the extraordinary performance of Emily Watson who played Jackie and the brilliant music displayed in the film. In Hilary and Jackie, music and life flows through every minute.
The film attracted controversy and criticism for allegedly distorting details in Jacqueline’s life, and Hilary du Pré publicly defended her version of the story. Even though there are parts of the movie with explicit language and sexual scenes, the extraordinary music will elevate you to undreamed spiritual heights. The film was rated R for language and sexuality, requiring those under age 17 to be accompanied by an adult, by the MPAA in the U.S., and given a 15 certificate, restricting anyone under age 15 from seeing the film in a cinema, by the British Board of Film Classfication.
During one section of the movie, a score of exquisite orchestral music together with special sound effects, rattled me like a leaf in a storm, which ended with an unexpected musical climax. I don’t remember having felt like this during a movie.
I can’t emphasize enough, the extraordinary performance of Emily Watson. Even though I knew she was acting the scenes where she appeared to be playing the cello, she did it with such credibility, I really thought she was the real musician. Jacqueline du Pré’s cello in the movie was played and synchronized to Emily Watson’s movements by Caroline Dale.
I love drama and orchestral music. This movie has both. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included a link to stream this remarkable movie. If dramatic movies and brilliant classical music is your cup of tea, then by all means please click the link and enjoy quality to the nth degree. Oh, one more thing, don’t forget the popcorn. Good Day.
Hilary and Jackie – The Movie
Mother Nature is right on schedule. Ending the month of November, we’re enjoying clear skies with soft breezes and bright sunshine. That means that our verano (Summer) is here. For the next four or five months, we will savor beautiful days, perfect to go out swimming to nearby rivers and/or beaches.
The dry season starts in Panama by mid December to mid April. Days are perfect with blue skies and bright sun. During the months of December, January and February there are soft breezes making the days nice and cool. March and April are irritably hot. It drives me crazy. By mid April we are receiving our first showers and my gloomy characters is magically transformed into a great smile. I embrace the start of the rainy season after a prolonged summer.
During the Summer days, it’s hilarious to see thousands of compact cars migrating from Panama City to the countryside. The cars are packed with parrot cages, dogs, cats, mattresses, electric fans, sleeping bags, portable TV sets, suitcases and what have you. Panamanians want to make sure they have everything they need to have fun at the beaches or rivers of the countryside (interior). This scene is followed every weekend after weekend until the rains creep in. Forget about inflation, budgets, mortgages and other financial obligations. The immediate goal is to migrate to the countryside. Debts can wait, plus the pawn shops are always there with their doors wide open.
At 11:41 a.m. (-5 GMT) I went outside and took a picture, just to show you how the day looked like. The temperature was 75° F. The day was partly cloudy with mixed sun and clouds. There was a soft breeze blowing North between five to ten miles per hour. It just can’t get better than this.
This is how the day looked like at indicated time. Here we go.
If you’re currently suffering from freezing temperatures, constant blizzards, no power, no operating phone lines and unending snowfalls; then it’s time to buy a plane ticket and head South. Panama is waiting for you with clear skies, bright sunny days and beautiful beaches. Go ahead and take the plunge. Good Day.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Devil said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit,” and God saw that it was good. And the Devil said, “There goes the neighborhood.”
And God said, “Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the Earth.” And so God created Man in his own image; male and female did He create.
And God looked upon Man and Woman and saw that they were lean and fit.
And the Devil said, “I know how I can get back in this game.”
And God populated the earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.
And the Devil created McDonald’s. And McDonald’s brought forth the 79-cent double cheeseburger. And the Devil said to Man: “You want fries with that?” And Man said: “Supersize them.” And Man gained 5 pounds.
And God created the healthful yogurt, that woman might keep her figure that man found so fair. And the Devil brought forth chocolate. And Woman gained 5 pounds.
And God said, “Try my crispy fresh salad.”
And the Devil brought forth Ben and Jerry’s. And Woman gained 10 pounds.
And God said, “I have sent thee heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them.”
And the Devil brought forth chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained 10 pounds and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.
And God brought forth running shoes and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.
And the Devil brought forth cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil to change channels between ESPN and ESPN2. And Man gained another 20 pounds.
And God said, “You’re running up the score, Devil.”
And God brought forth the potato, a vegetable naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition.
And the Devil peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fat fried them. And the Devil created sour cream dip.
And Man clutched his remote control and ate the potato chips swaddled in cholesterol. And the Devil saw and said, “It is good.” And Man went into cardiac arrest.
And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.
And the Devil canceled Man’s health insurance.
Then God showed Woman how to peel the skin off chicken and cook the nourishing whole grain brown rice.
And the Devil created light beer so Man could poison his body with alcohol while feeling righteous because he had to drink twice as much of the now-insipid brew to get the same buzz. And Man gained another ten pounds.
And God created the life-giving tofu.
And Woman ventured forth into the land of Godiva Chocolate and upon returning asked Man: “Do I look fat?”
And the Devil said, “Always tell the truth.” And Man did.
And Woman went out from the presence of man and dwelt in the land of the divorce lawyer, east of the marriage counselor.
And Woman put aside the seeds of the earth and took unto herself comfort food. And God brought forth Weight-watchers. It didn’t help.
And God created exercise machines with easy payments. And man brought forth his Visa at 21 percent. And the exercise machine went to dwell in the closet of Nod, east of the polyester leisure suit.
And in the fullness of time, Woman received the exercise machine from Man in the property settlement. It didn’t help her, either.
It was Christmas and the judge was in a merry mood as he asked the defendant, “What are you being charged with?”
—“Doing my Christmas shopping early sir,” replied the defendant.
—“Well, that’s not a crime,” said the judge. “How early were you doing this shopping?”
—“Before the store opened,” answered the prisoner.
The judge made known his sentence immediately. Guilty or innocent? Good Day.