El Valle de Anton, Panama, November 2019
I had a rather challenging week so far… It all started with a perfect weekend, as I went for a nice day trip to a beautiful village, some 150 km out of the Panama City, called El Valle de Anton.
Then I had a very enjoyable Sunday at home. Reading books in Spanish, and enjoying getting to know new vocabulary. I felt fulfilled and satisfied.
Then I went out in the late afternoon/early evening to see some friends in a cafe/bar, just outside of my home. We really enjoyed the conversation together… then things went terribly wrong… an armed robbery on the restaurant, an assault on all of us… a loss of property (phone, money, etc.), a sadness, questions why, a slow recovery with and a decision that giving in to violence of fear is not, perhaps, the best way…
I am not ready to write more at this stage. Perhaps, just wanted to reassure you all that things are good, and I am appreciative of have gone unhurt, just a bit scarred. I will write more about the story sometime in a private messages to some of you.
Today, just wanted to greet you all, wherever you are!
A wall paper in my Casco Viejo's apartment, Panama City, November 2019
So, I bought an old and a small car in Panama… I was resisting, as I wanted to challenge myself and move around using public transportation. I gave in due to lack of straight-forward and fast connection to commute to and from my office… While I feel a bit defeated (I really wanted not to have a car here), there are some wonderful advantages of having one. It will be much easier for me to explore the country, outside of its capital! Panama is supposedly a very pretty country, but the transport constraints have made it difficult to appreciate it… Now, as an owner of Toyota Yaris (however old), I should be able to catch-up!
On top of purchasing the car, I have finalised decorating my flat. I have now fixed some last decorations and rearranged the furniture a bit. It feels cosy and homely! I really like my new place and I have a feeling that I will be able to spend good time here. Consider visiting me here to check the place out on your own!
Things are relatively quiet at work (as quiet as they can be in my organisation). This being written, we are concerned with what happens in Bolivia. The political crisis does not seem to be easing, and we are worried that the humanitarian consequences may be dire. We therefore are getting reviewing our contingencies to make sure that we can respond fast, should there be a need to do so.
Next week, here in Panama City, I will be presenting in front of representatives of the EU institutions present in South and Central America, as well as UN agencies, NGOs and the Government of Panama on use of satellite technology (especially mapping) as a tool for early warning systems for disasters, and a planning tool for actual responses to humanitarian crises, when they already occur. While the presentation will be quite technical, I am planning to present a case study of our recent intervention in Bolivia (a crisis caused by the Amazon fires), which I hope will be interesting and will allow understanding some advantages of technology in humanitarian interventions.
Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama, November 2019
I have just returned to Panama from a trip to Canada and Portugal. As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I enjoyed the trip tremendously: celebrating my birthday with with dear friends in Toronto, and savouring Portuguese autumn charms in Obidos and its surroundings!
Now, back to my work reality, and busy following up on various existing and potential crises in Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay, various Central American countries and Haiti. Some of the political developments in the region are worrying, as they can easily end up in more humanitarian stresses, or fully blown disasters.
Yet, we are in the middle of November, and therefore, on a personal level, I am preparing for the end of the year. In December, I will be going to San Jose of Costa Rica for a week, and then just before Christmas, Tahir will come over to visit me from Toronto! I can't wait for these two experiences, especially to welcome Tahir in my new place and explore Panama with him!
Before the travel to Costa Rica and a visit of Tahir take place, the community of Casco Viejo, where I live in Panama City is arranging for a huge Thanksgiving Celebrations here. All residents of the neighbourhood are invited and we are meant to prepare a dish from our own countries… I have already informed the organisers that I will cook my favourite beetroot soup! They certainly thought it was an unusual plate, and are looking forward to taste it… Wish me luck
Streets of Obidos, Portugal, October 2019
After spending a spending birthday weekend in Toronto, with Tahir, Paula, Ruth and Arthur (see pictures here), I am now enjoying Obidos, and central Portugal.
Portugal never stops amazing me. Fantastically beautiful, warm and hospitable people, and just very, very friendly in general. Yes, I said it before, but I can't helping it… I am so happy I did make a decision to make Obidos to be my European base/home!
Except my 'usual' discoveries of new places in the country, this time, Batalha and Coimbra (pictures will follow), I also had a chance to meet with a lawyer to discuss my options for becoming a permanent resident and then start the process of becoming a citizen. We will be able to move on it in one year from now. I am very excited.
So, I am back to Panama tomorrow, well rested and happy. Despite being a bit sad of leaving Portugal, I am excited to be going back to work too!