I am getting ready to visit Tahir. Just 4 days more, and I will be flying to Toronto. It will be a very short visit, just 3 days, en route to travelling to Lisbon, but even if it is a quick visit, I am so very excited.
I have been thinking about Tahir and his incredible life recently, and I can't just help to feel proud of him, his achievements and his attitude towards life. I feel so privileged to to be able to know him and consider him to be my family!
Then, other piece of good news is that even if we are meeting for a really short period of time this time around, he will be coming to visit me here in Panama
for Christmas, and will stay around for a little longer!
For those of you, who do not know who Tahir is, here are some links to posts describing some of out past adventures.
Tahir is going to Canada soon
Friends of Tahir: updates
For more stories, you are welcome to dig into the archives of 'News from Roman'.
The situation in Lebanon is getting out of control of the politicians, as the people of Beirut and other towns in the country overwhelmingly demand drastic changes. Chile is experiencing a very similar situation, however, sadly, it turns out to be much more violent and resulting with death of protesters. The people of Quito and other towns in Ecuador are fed up and displeased with their government too. Bolivia is in the middle of their presidential elections, and things do not look rosy… quite a contrary, all complicates and the people are boiling. The Brits are protesting in huge numbers against the lies of their own political elite and flood the streets of London. Barcelona is witnessing one of the gravest crisis in the recent history. I am not even going to mention Hong Kong, Syria and Turkey. And then there are ongoing wars that seem not be wanting to stop… South Sudan, Venezuela, Mindanao…
Things in the world are worrying. Disparities between 'haves' and 'non-haves', the greed, the abuse of out resources and the 'mother nature' are getting out of control. I fear that, we are at the point where things have gone so far that we are not going to be able to manage our problems in an evolutionary manner… Revolution seems to be coming, and it feels scary, but also feels right. The world is not just for far too many people. Yet, as all rapid and potentially uncontrolled changes are scary, this worries me… Then, I am also beginning to accept that perhaps there is no any other way but a big shake-up? Yes, we may all get a hit, a big hit, but perhaps, we deserve it, and we just need to go through a very serious crisis, to get something positive coming out of it?
I feel a bit overwhelmed by what I see, but then I also feel okay with whatever may be coming. My optimistic side still hopes that we get to senses, and that we still can avoid the disaster, but I admit, this hope is waning… it is waning every day, every hours.
Any positive thoughts? Anyone?
Panama Canal, Miraflores, Panama, October 2019
The Panama Canal is perhaps the country's most recognisable and famous landmark. Yesterday, I finally had a chance to visit it. It was a very interesting experience, and was certainly worth a trip. When visiting the Miraflores Locks (the principal site for the tourists wanting to visit the canal), one has a chance to learn how the passage of the ships between the Pacific and the Atlantic happens. Then of course, there is a bit of an excitement, knowing that you are in a place which a lot of people consider as a border separating the North America from the South America. But, by far, the most interesting was the canal's museum: a nicely prepared interactive presentation showing the history of its construction (it was a sober realisation, how many enslaved people died when building it), and a great deal of information on how the canal works from a technological point of view. There is also a nice presentation on Panama's maritime life (fauna and flora) and on work that is undertaken to protect the environment. Definitely enjoyed the visit!
After a fun day at the Canal, I tried to do some extra work on my Spanish today. To make it more fun, I started reading my first ever book in Spanish language. A nice lady in a local bookstore advised me that I should go for Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, titled La Máscara de La Muerte Roja y Otros Relatos (translated from English by Benjamin Briggent). She suggested that I should be able to understand most of the language, and that I should enjoy the tales. I am now on a third story, and certainly excited to be reading classics in Spanish. They are poetic, spooky, enchanting and most of all, fun to read! The bookstore keeper was right, I do not find it difficult to understand what I read, which makes me motivated to read more!
Leira, Portugal, October 2019
I have just had a proper read of some of the Polish newspapers and magazines. Mostly analyses of the political landscape in the country after the recent elections. What I am reading scares me… chauvinism, hatred, bigotry, extreme nationalism, building a state where Catholic Church becomes a quasi-national religion and a quasi obligatory way of life to be successful in the country.
I have always loved Portugal, but now, given the discourse in Poland, I am even more excited and grateful about having an opportunity to call that country to be my home. Talking of Portugal, I will be visiting Obidos and Lisbon in early November. I can't wait!
My work plans have changed slightly, and there is a small adjustments of my professional related trips for weeks to come.
As per latest adjustments, I am postponing my trip to Honduras (new date to be determined) that I was supposed to be having next week, but will go to Caracas in Venezuela in the first part of November (right after returning from my holiday in Portugal). Then, in the third week of December, just before Christmas, I will be visiting our office in Quito in Ecuador.
I am a bit sad that I am not going to Honduras now, but very excited about the trips to Venezuela and Ecuador!
Panama City, a view from the Panama Bay, October 2019
Life is a journey, a journey that is, sometimes, difficult to comprehend… Yes, I am having a 'blue' day, I am in a bad mood, after learning the outcomes of the elections in Poland. As the exit polls suggest, the power will remain with the party that is forming a present government… This makes me sad. It makes me sad, as even though, I appreciate some of the social projects that the present government has introduced in the country, I passionately disagree with the policies of our government on refugees, international aid, their take on gender equity, their take on the place of religion in the society, and definitely I will never be able to accept their take on promotion of 'traditional values' - which in my mind are discriminatory towards all sorts of minorities, starting with sexual minorities, through religious ones, and to some extent towards certain ethnic groups. I guess, what I am writing is that I feel uncomfortable to confront an idea that such a large group of Poles would subscribe to these ideas. And yes, even if, the left wing parties have scored unusually well this time around, it does not make me feel much better at all. I feel pessimistic about my own country, and I just need to work out how not to feel entirely overwhelmed by the state of affairs in the country, where I come from.
Here in Central America, we are recently very worried about the happenings in Ecuador. The country has been on fire for last days, and it appears that things may need to get worse, before they get better. The standoff between the president of the country, the trade unions and some of the ethnic groups continues to pose threat to safety of residents of Quito and beyond. While we hope that things will calm down, we are looking at the humanitarian situation of the people affected by the ongoing violence and the political chaos.
On a happier note, I am preparing for my November holiday. I am very excited to be planning my free days in Toronto, and then Lisbon as well as Obidos. I am really excited to be able to visit Tahir again, and check out on how his life is progressing in Canada. Then, very, very happy to be heading to my Portuguese home too!
After weeks of arrangements, shopping and unpacking of the boxes that I had brought from Bangkok, my apartment in Panama City is ready to live in comfortably and to receive guests!
You may remember that I have managed to find a small apartment in the older part of the city, called Casco Viejo.
Casco Viejo constitutes a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and is filled with beautiful Spanish era houses, small streets, countless of small shops and restaurants. It really is lovely.
The flat itself has the Latin feeling. There are so many things I like about it… but my absolute favourites are the tiled floors and a spectacular terrace, from where one can admire views of the old and new parts of Panama City!
Please consider coming over here! I will be thrilled to have you here, and spend with you time in this beautiful part of the American continent.
Memories: magnets from my various travels
Our office in Panama is still very new (barely 3 months old), but covers operations in Latin American and the Caribbean countries, which is, of course substantial, when it comes to geographical. Given the diversity of our area of responsibility (political, cultural, ethnical, national religious, climatic or geographical), our projects cover various thematic areas. So we look after the victims of internal conflicts, refugees fleeing for safety, victims of natural disasters, or disasters that are caused by industrial or agricultural activities (for example forestal fires). The magnitude of our work requires that we still need to adjust our resources to all projects in a way that we be effective and that some of us are not over-burdened. Last week, this is precisely what we tried doing. We looked at our job descriptions, and decided to make some fine-tuning. As a result, I got some extra tasks! Except for being responsible to lead the humanitarian responses to acute stresses in all of the countries of the region, I will also be in charge of following-up our longer term activities in Brazil and Argentina. I welcome the development of my job, and I am very excited with the new challenges!
On a personal note, I was also very busy in arranging my next trip, and I was finalising my tickets to travel to Toronto and Lisbon. In a little over three weeks, right after I return from my work related mission to Honduras, I am setting off for my vacations! Can't wait to meet Tahir and other friends in Canada, and very, very excited to be visiting my Portuguese home too!
As the elections in Poland are coming in 1 week, I keep on studying the programmes and manifestos of some of the parties that I consider supporting. Clearly, my preferences are on the left side of the political spectrum… the trouble is that the left side of the politics in Poland is fragmented and the choice is somehow complicated. Still a week to make a decision who I would like to represent me at the parliament, before casting my vote at the Embassy of Poland in Panama City.
Also, finally my stuff has arrived with the cargo shipment from Bangkok, and I got reunited with some of my favourite belongings, including my fridge magnets, which I will now proudly display at my Panama flat again!
As ECHO is in the middle of implementing some very interesting projects in various Central American countries, meant to increase preparedness to natural disasters, it is our role to visit our partners to discuss issues around execution of the agreed activities.
Honduras is one of the countries, where my organisation has invested funds to prepare the country to deal with natural disasters better and more efficiently.
It appears that I will soon be going to Honduras to meet with our partners (non-governmental organisations (NGOs), working on disaster risk reduction) to discuss successes and challenges relating to the projects.
I should be travelling to Honduras in 2 weeks from today, and spend in a country around one week.
Traditionally, I will be reporting to you on the details of the trip and the project itself. Soon, I will also update you with the basics about the country and provide you with some information on why we work there in a first place. Stay tuned for more information soon!