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Last two months...

Evening at my balcony, Pacific Ocean, Panama City, Panama

I have now returned from the border between Mexico and the USA and working on my field visit report. The images of thousands of people living in the streets, in appalling conditions are still vivid in my mind. Individual stories of misery, abuse are difficult to forget, and perhaps should not be forgotten. Migrants walking from various parts of America towards the USA often live a situation that could easily be considered as hell. They end up in misery due to extreme poverty, political oppressions, lack of education and opportunities to advance and develop as human beings. Their stories matter and should not be forgotten. In fact, I am preparing a short account of some of the conversations that I had with various families in Mexico and will try sharing them with you sometime later.

In the meanwhile, my preparations for departing from Panama progress well. I am looking for agencies that would help me to bring some of my personal stuff from Panama to Venezuela, looking at contracts to donate my car, and start preparing my hand over notes. It seems like I still have time to do that, but then I realise that I will already be leaving in 6 weeks. Time flies, and I guess all will happen faster than I expect…

Before I go, I will have a visit here in Panama City. A very dear friend of mine, Christine, who lives and works in Atlanta (working for the renowned
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) comes here in two weeks to spend a few days with me. I am so excited of her visit. Christine is a dear friend of mine, and it will be so nice to chat with her, bring some of the common memories back and do some touristy stuff in the city and around! Really looking forward to her coming!

Migration crisis

Mexico City, Mexico, June 2021

You may have read that there is a severe migration crisis developing at the border between Mexico and the United States. This follows changes to asylum laws recently introduced in the USA.

In order to assess the humanitarian consequences on migrants and host communities in northern Mexico, I am travelling tomorrow with a fact-finding mission.

As the trip goes on, I will be updating you with photo documentary. Tomorrow, I am starting with the City of Juarez, bordering with El Paso in the US (Texas). Stay tuned for more news soon!

Preparing for my departure from Panama

Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama, April 2023

I have just returned from Venezuela. The experience of the new country is still very strong inside me, as I think of Venezuela's beauty, amazingly friendly people, but also extraordinary challenges and hardships that many undergo on daily basis. It may be premature to say, but I have such a good feeling about the place and look forward to be moving there in August. I can't wait!

It is a strange feeling to be here in Panama City. Walking its street and realise that I am beginning to have my 'last everything' here. Last visits to cafes, Cinta Costera, Casco Viejo, Cangrejo's bars and parks.
Panama has not been 'love at first sight' for me, as it seems to be the case with Venezuela. I have grown to like many aspects of my life in this country though, and will definitely miss it. I made many great friends here, I learnt my Spanish in this country, and I have has some of the most enjoyable working experience of my professional life.

I am looking at my schedule for next weeks. First days of May will be filled with numerous meetings and project administrative work in Panama. It will be busy, but lots of desk and sit-down work. It is actually a fairly strange feeling as I have no trips planned for weeks to come - highly unusual with my work. As things stand with my work, it may change at any moment, and I may be packing my bags sooner than I expect, but it is a nice feeling to know that I might stay in one place for some weeks.

Introduction to Venezuela

Zrzut ekranu 2023-04-18 o 09.23.13
A flag of Venezuela pained on a face of a football supporter

I am back to Panama from my splendid holidays that I had in Portugal (see pictures here) and the Baltic countries (see pictures here). I had a great time, and enjoyed every moment of it. Visiting friends, enjoying fantastic weather of the Iberian Peninsula and discovering three new countries were very enjoyable and relaxing. I will remember the trip for a long time!

While I am still suffering from a jetlag, I am getting ready for my trip to Venezuela already. Tomorrow, I will be flying off to Caracas and will be in the country for 10 days. The main reason of my travel is to start my handing over process for my new job. You may remember that as of August this year, I will be moving to Venezuela to resume my duties as the organisation's head of office. Given the plans, it makes perfect sense for me to travel to the country now, so I get to know my new team, our operations, meet with partners and more importantly start understanding the humanitarian needs and context that we work in.

While in Venezuela, I will stay in Caracas, but also travel to project locations within the country. Needless to say that I am very excited with the prospects.

The trip to Venezuela reminds me that I am approaching my end of deployment here in Panama and that only a little over 3 months is left for me here. It is time to start arranging the practicalities of my move from here to my new home to be!

Enjoying Portugal and travelling to the Baltic Sea

Obidos, Portugal, April 2023

This is a very short entry to give you a short update from my trip to Europe.

My first part of the trip is about to finish. This is my last day in Portugal and tomorrow I am off to Latvia.

So, far I am having a wonderful time.
Enjoying spring in Portugal, and learning about how the Portuguese celebrate their Easter. The experience is even nicer, as I do it together with my friends.

Despite being really happy here, I am excited to be travelling to Latvia tomorrow. You may remember that I will be visiting Riga and southern part of Estonia within the next couple of days. I have never been to that part of Europe, and I am very much looking forward to an opportunity of discovering new places!

I will report on my adventures in the Baltic states soon!

Easter Holidays

Lisbon, Portugal, November 2022

Tahir has just left from Panama, which makes me sad, as I really loved having him around (see some of the pictures of his trip here). His visit reminded me what a great person he is and how much I enjoy spending time with him and learn about his new adventures in Canada (and beyond). Despite being a bit nostalgic, there are many events to look forward to. On Wednesday, I will be travelling to Europe for my Easter break. I will first stay sometime in Portugal, at home in Obidos. Of course, I will also visit friends here and there, and this is really exciting.

If all goes according to plan, I will also be going to Latvia and Estonia for a few days for a short city break. I have never been to any of the Baltic countries, and I have heard that both countries are very interesting and have some stunning architecture. Definitely thrilled about discovering new places!

After returning to the Americas, I should be going to Venezuela at the end of April. As you can imagine, the visit to the country is related to my plans of moving there in August, and should give me a chance to kick-start the process of handover from the person that I will be replacing. Like in a case of the Baltic countries, I have never been to Venezuela yet, so I am also looking forward to the experience of learning about an entirely new place!

I shall keep you updated on my travels and will send you links to photos!

In the meanwhile, I hope you all are well!

Tahir's visit

Tahir in Amador, Panama City, Panama, March 2023

Tahir has arrived safely to Panama, and we are enjoying the time very much. It is a rather short visit, so we are trying to make sure that we enjoy every possible moment. Together, we meet common friends, and travel in and out of the city! Above all, we chat and talk!

Tahir's visit reminds me how lucky I am that he has become a part of our family. I feel blessed and happy when he is around! As an additional bonus, as Ramadan is coming, we are getting ready to mark this important holiday.

If you wanna look at some of the pictures from his visit, you are welcome to do so by
visiting this link (pictures from his visit at the bottom of the album).

In other news, we are busy with various humanitarian stresses around America.
Floods in Paraguay and Peru, an earthquake in Ecuador are the main, but not the only events that keep us busy.

At the back of my mind, I am preparing for my Easter break in Europe. At the beginning of April, I will be travelling to Portugal and possibly to Lithuania and Estonia.

An emergency mission to Paraguay

Asuncion, Paraguay, March 2022

A big part of Paraguay is suffering from severe rains and floods. Many people are displaced and cut off from the world. If this was not enough, there is an outbreak of Dengue Fever in the affected areas.

Given the situation, I am flying with an emergency mission to Asuncion on Friday, and then will try to reach the affected areas on Saturday/Sunday. Hopefully, the visit will help us make determinations on whether and how how we could support the people in humanitarian needs.

I will keep you all updated on how the mission goes, and as usual will take pictures, so those, who are interested will be able to peep into what is happening in Gran Chaco.