In a typical for me fashion, I have changed all the immediate travel plans, I had. You may remember that I was supposed to be visiting Venezuela and Colombia soon… Providing service in crisis situation tends to be unpredictable though, and as the fires in the Amazonia have become really worrying and have affected lots of individuals and entire communities, we decided that it was more important that I travel to some of the affected parts in Bolivia, so that we could assess weather there are things that we could do to assist the people to cope with the consequences of the disaster. Things have rolled out really fast. Yesterday, we took a decision for the deployment, and I am ready to go tomorrow. The overall idea is to visit La Paz, where most of the coordination of the response to the fire happens, and then off to Santa Cruz, in the east of the country, so that I can actually experience the operations themselves. When I am in Bolivia, I will be reporting to you what I see and what is being done to immediately control the fires, but also in terms of what can be done better so that we limit the extent of similar problems in the future.
In the meanwhile, Casco Viejo, the part of Panama City where I live does not stop impressing me. The neighbourhood is very colourful. People here are of various economic, and social backgrounds. There are the wealthy ones, and those who struggle. People however do seem to support one another and are definitely friendly to each other. The vibe is good, and I love the place!
I may be excited with lots of changes in my life: new apartment, new friends, and a new city to live in, but the main reason why I am in Panama is my humanitarian service that I am meant to be providing to the communities in need in various countries of the region.
Although, I still need to get into a full swing, when it comes to work, I am already making some plans for my next work related missions.
As it seems now, I will soon (first week of September) be travelling to Venezuela, where I am going to spend some time learning about the latest situation of those, who are affected by the ongoing crisis. Right after that, I would be travelling to Bogota in Colombia, where I am going to learn a bit more on the situation of the Venezuelan refugees in the country. Finally, I am also preparing to travel to Curacao and Bonaire in the Caribbean Sea, where I am mean to be participating in the disaster simulation exercise arranged by the Civil Protection Agency of the Netherlands.
As usual, I will be sharing thoughts and my experiences, as these journeys actually take place.
A view from a roof balcony of the flat that I would like to live it, Casco Viejo, Panama City, August 2019
It is not a deal done yet, but I may have found a flat in Panama City, where I would like to live in. It is a small place, yet very cozy, in an old building in Casco Viejo, the old part of Panama City.
Despite being in an old building, the flat is renovated and has all the modern amenities one needs in contemporary life. What I love about it is its location. Casco Viejo is charming. The place has countless of narrow streets, and beautiful colonial style houses, shops, churches and monuments on smaller and larger squares. Panamanians seem to love their history, and unlike a lot of the cities that I know in Asia, they loving restore and look after their architectural heritage rather than bulldoze old building to make space for new skyscrapers (which are also built, but in a different part of the city).
What seems amazing about Casco Viejo are its inhabitants. I already met so many people there, who simply embraced me to their lives and invited me to participate in the life of the community like if they had known me for ever. I have already managed to listen to a concert of the classical music in one of the houses of the would be neighbour (marking 500 years of foundation of Panama City, which happens to take place now).
A concert in honour of foundation of Panama City, in one of the houses of Casco Viejo
I have a good feeling about my new place, new city, new country and new work. And even if things are not settled yet, I look into the future with excitement and optimism!
It has been a busy and a bit tiring week. Busy: as there are so many things to do, think of and look after when settling down in a new country and continent. Tiring: as still flighting the jet-lag, getting used to a very humid weather, pushing your brain to be able to understand as much as possible in a new language (and learn it).
Everything is very exciting though. Colleagues, I will be working with all seem very kind, generous, and above all professional. I am getting lots of thing sorted, including my accommodation, which for practical reason is important now. Then, I am also getting my head around the humanitarian situation in the countries around, and already planning my first work missions. Nothing is written in stone, but I may be travelling to Venezuela in a near future, and then later to Curacao in the Caribbeans.
I will soon post some pictures from the city (and my new flat), and will make sure that I share some of my first impressions too.
For now, just wanted to let you all know that all goes well!
Casco Viejo, the Old Town in Panama City, August 2019
Still terribly jet-lagged and tired, but happy to have arrived to Panama City. I will soon be reporting on how things are in my new country and share with you my experiences from the Americas. So far, everything sounds and looks really exciting and promising!
Before that happens, I am thrilled to share with you some pictures from my stay in Europe. Visiting Mum, family and friends, and hosting Tahir was absolutely wonderful! I loved every moment of it! Here are some images that you may want to see:
Showing Tahir Poland and Slovakia
The epic trip around Europe
Last moments in Poland before moving to Panama
A bit of Los Angeles from a car
Greetings to you all, wherever you are in the world!