Posts Tagged ‘Trees’
In order for the Panama Canal to operate it needs water; lots of it. That’s where the tropical rainforest of the area adjacent to the international waterway comes in.
The Panama Canal rainforests are some of the most accessible nature-rich rainforests in the world. With over 50,000 acres of pristine rainforest, this natural gem hosts an incredible 105 species of mammals, 525 species of birds and 124 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Having such a nature-rich area so close to the metropolitan capital is feature unique to Panama. The Panama Canal, just 30 minutes away from Panama City, requires a vast rainforest watershed to feed water to its lock system which uses millions of gallons each day. For this reason the Canal Zone has had to actively preserve its circumvent natural resources, making for plentiful green areas.
Below are a couple of pictures of the tropical rainforest which can be appreciated from the balconies of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Hotel located in the town of Gamboa in the former Canal Zone. Enjoy nature at its best.
Mi Pueblito is an exact replica of small countryside towns of Panama. It is located on the lower slopes of Ancon Hill. This hill is the only one within the perimeter of Panama City. It is totally covered with lush tropical vegetation.
When the Republic of Panama recovered its sovereignty over the former Canal Zone, General Omar Torrijos, then Head of State, ordered that a giant Panamanian flag waved on the top of the hill. It was a symbol that Panama was one territory under one flag. Ever since midday December 31, 1999, a Panama flag permanently waves on the top of this hill made famous by poetess Amelia Denis de Icaza in her poem, “Al Cerro Ancón”.
While I was taking a break during a recent photo walk, I looked up and saw the magnificent view of Ancon Hill like a huge green blanket covering the lilliputian town below. It was midmorning and the lush tropical trees rippled in the warm breeze emanating from the hill. The building of Mi Pueblito seemed so small and fragile compared with the gargantuan hill above.
The scene instantly captured my attention. This is what I saw that warm April morning as the tropical sun slowly ascended across the blue dome above.
As you probably know if you have been reading my blog, the name Panama has three accepted official origins. The first one, is that Panama is the indian name of a tree in this narrow strip of land in Middle America. The second version, is that Panama is the Indian word for “gathering or abundance of fishes”. And the third version, is that Panama means abundance of butterflies.
The earliest known inhabitants of Panama were the Cuevas and the Coclé tribes, but they were wiped out by disease and fighting when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century.
After developing a taste for photography, I’ve been looking more closely at my surroundings, and how it represents in one way or another my country; the land where I was born. Sometimes, it’s the face of a child or footprints on the sand. In other instances I see my country in trees swaying softly in the wind. An old man repairing old watches in a dilapidated table and chair also depicts the multiple faces of my beloved motherland.
To find the soul of my country I’m learning how to see; for seeing, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. Good seeing doesn’t ensure good photographs, but good photographic expression is impossible without it.
Having said this, I would like to share with you of what Panama means to me. It’s a gorgeous tree covered with pink flowers in the middle of a busy street. The flowers had fallen and the ground was covered with pink flowers, like an immense pink carpet. That scene represented Panama for me. Pink is indeed beautiful and its beauty gives shape and color to my land. By the way, the name of the tree is Guayacán.
Now let’s take a look at the pink tree I saw. Here we go.
There was a man in love with trees in Panama City. Unfortunately he passed away several years ago. He was remembered as a man with a large hat collecting Guayacán tree seeds. During the weekends he would roam the city collecting the seeds. Then he would plant these seeds and decorate the city with this gorgeous tree.
After an automobile accident, he lost his car, so he made his usual sojourns in a battered old bicycle. His love for the Guayacán trees is legendary in this country. His name is Jorge Fujimori, of Japanese descent. He definitely left a legacy in this city painting it with yellow, white, purple and pink.
Below is a picture of a Guayacán Tree most probably planted by Mr. Fujimori himself. The tree is located at the entrance of Residencial el Bosque where I live in Panama City, Panama. Here we go.
Thinking about it, Jorge Fujimori was very much like Johnny Appleseed. The latter was enamored with apples while Jorge was captivated by Guayacanes. Thank you Jorge and Johnny for your contribution in making our planet a better place to live.
Yep, a person can make a difference; all it takes is love and a good cause. Good Day.
Posted in Miscellaneous, tagged Circle Club, Devastation of Forests, Forests, Greed, Land Development, Palm Trees, Real Estate, Residencial El Bosque, Trees, Urban Development on January 26, 2011 | 3 Comments »
I live in a neighborhood called, Residencial El Bosque, which in Spanish means Residences of the Woods. The name is a literary illusion, since there are only a few trees left in this once lush tropical forest during the late sixties.
Originally El Bosque was a large extension of land of an expensive real estate project called Circle Club which had several branches in Central America. The project consisted of expensive mansions surrounded by tall tropical trees and a top-of-the-line golf course. The target customers were upper middle class U.S. retirees who would find a tropical paradise in the Republic of Panama. Something similar to what happened at Boquete forty years later.
Then an unexpected event killed the project. A military Junta toppled the legitimate government of then President Arnulfo Arias Madrid on October 11, 1968. Immediately boatloads of money was vacuumed from Panamanian banks which found refuge in Miami banks. Billions of dollars flowed to the protected golden shores of Florida.
The Circle Club went belly up and the land was appropriated by the Banco Nacional which acts like a Central Bank. The new government, under the leadership of strong man General Omar Torrijos Herrera, decided to divide the real estate into small pieces of land about 312 square meters and constructed middle-income houses. The mortgages were sold by the Caja de Ahorros—another government institution. The average cost of a house at Residencial El Bosque (the new name of the residential area) was about $35,000 in 1980. That is what I paid for my house on July 12, 1980. The monthly mortgage payment was exactly $343.75.
Since I had a very good salary at that time, I paid my house in five years, saving several thousands of greenbacks in interest payments. It was a wise idea that came from my wife. She’s the best Comptroller I’ve ever known. And they say women can’t handle money. It’s not true at all.
While building Residencial El Bosque, most of the magnificent tropical trees were chopped down by the land developers and only a few remained. This is a tendency in Panama, cut trees no matter what. Now we are regretting the uncontrolled devastation of our natural forests which only remain in its natural state in the Provinces of Bocas del Toro and Darien.
At a small park within Residencial El Bosque, a lonely tropical palm tree still stands. It displays the beauty of the tropical vegetation with its broad leaves which look like giant fans. I took several shots of this palm tree roughly about 5:30 p.m. which is a magical hour to take pictures as a good photographer will certainly agree.
Morning light is at its best from just before sunrise to about an hour afterwards, while evening light is best from one hour before to just sunset. It’s often called by photographers, “the golden light”.
Below at the pictures captured during this golden time of the day, in black and white. Later on, during the shooting session, I switched to color to compare the difference in mood that coloration or lack of it, can create on an image. I’m frequently impressed with the effect of black and white pictures. Now let’s take a look at one of the few standing trees of Residencial El Bosque. Here we go.
Even though we are all aware of the negative effects of the destruction of the planet caused by humans, we continue to destroy vast areas of tropical forests every year. The Amazonia is threatened by greedy land developers while government officials remain passive and often taking bribes. How long can we keep on this growing trend of destruction? At this moment I have more questions than answers. Good Day.
Since the dawn of time, Panama has been related to nature. For example, Panama was the word used by the natives to say that there was an abundance of butterflies, gathering of fishes or the name of a tree called Panama. The jungles of Bocas del Toro and Darien are still intact. Wildlife, botanical plants and trees are so exotic in these areas, that many species have not yet been discovered by modern scientists.
A tree that stands out in Panama and other Latin American countries is the Guayacan tree due to its stunning beauty. The botanical name is Tabebuia guayacan (Bignoniaceae). You can find it around Panama City, specially in the neighborhood of Betania.
The Guayacan tree and flower is symbolic in Latin America. For example; Tabebuia chrysotricha is the national flower of Brazil. Tabebuia rosea is the national tree of El Salvador and the Tabebuia chrysantha is the national tree of Venezuela. As a matter of fact, on May 29, 1948, Tabebuia chrysantha was declared the national tree of Venezuela due to its extraordinary beauty. Its deep yellow resembles the Venezuelan flag. It is one of about 100 species of Tabebuia.
The Guayacan tree is widely used as an ornamental tree in the tropics in landscaping gardens, public squares, and boulevards due to its impressive and colorful flowering. Many flowers appear on still leafless stems at the end of the dry season, making the floral display more conspicuous. They are useful as honey plants for bees, and are popular with certain hummingbirds.
Tabebuia guayacan usually produces big yellow flowers in March or April, with the first rains at the end of the dry season. It is a notable flowering tree. The flowers are 1 to 4 inches wide and are produced in dense clusters. Corolla colors vary between species ranging from white, light pink, yellow, lavender, magenta, or red.
During the dry season, Guayacan sheds its leaves, turning rapidly green again at the start of the rainy season. The beautiful yellow, trumpet-like flowers generally open up around February/March, making the tree one of the most beautiful in the jungle. The tree normally bears fruit at the end of March. Approximately 10-23 inches long, green and a bit uneven, the fruit resemble bean pods. Inside the fruit, the seeds have small wings.
They shed their leaves in January, and then bloom with intensity and yellow brilliance demonstrating the magic of Mother Nature from February to April. Sadly the show is a brief one, between 3 to 5 days. As the flowers fall to the ground, they form a beautiful carpet that lasts much longer.
The Guayacan is not only beautiful but also offers relief for several health problems. Tea made from the flowers treats urine and kidney trouble. The flower tea has also been used to treat tuberculosis in Latin America.
Its wood is considered among the strongest and finest in the world. Proof of this are the timber frames in the ruins of the Panama Cathedral, which are still strong after more than 400 years.
Below are several photographs of two Guayacan trees which I found within the premises of Banco General in the neighborhood of Hato Pintado. They looked majestic.
The Spanish Conquistadores didn’t find much gold in Panama, but who needs gold when we have trees like these. Do you agree? Good Day.