Saturday, May 2, 2015

A man. A plan. A canal. Panama? Thwarted!

As close to the Panama Canal as I got today.
Bridge of the Americas in view, if you're into that sort of thing.
You remember the palindrome: "A man. A plan. A canal. Panama." I was the man. And I had a plan. I was going to see the canal. Only it didn't happen.

I got an email late Friday night that my boat trip was cancelled because the water level was "too low." What is this? California? The water looked mighty high to me. Although with all the rain that was falling yesterday, it was tough to tell. Anyway, they promised me a refund. I'm on pins and needles waiting.

Lemonade from lemons and all that. So I decided to take a walking tour of the modern city of Panama City. So I cabbed downtown and told the driver to let me off at the Balboa statue in the aptly named Vasco Núñez de Balboa Park. I got out of the cab and into this.

Panama City is humid
No. That is not fog. Panama City, especially right after a rain, is humid. Very humid. I stepped out of the air-conditioned cab and my glasses fogged up. My camera lens fogged up. Have you ever tried to take pictures of Vasco Núñez de Balboa Park when your camera lens is all fogged up? If you haven't, that is what happens. And THAT was after a minute or two when the fogging was starting to dissipate. Eventually I got my pic of Señor Balboa's statue.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa. In statue form.
Or, if you prefer, the front view rather than profile:

Another angle
Mr. Balboa is very popular in Panama. There's this statue. The port on the pacific side of the canal is named "Balboa." On the Atlantic side, it's Colón, the Spanishized version of the surname of Mr. Columbus. And the national currency is the "balboa," although it only exists in coin form, as the paper money used are U.S. dollars. But still, I'd like to have a currency named for me, even if it were only coin-based with the largest denomination being the quarter, Apparently the only place outside of Panama where Mr. Balboa is so popular is San Diego. You know. Balboa Park. The zoo is there.

Looking eastward on Avenida de Balboa
Because Panama gets no hurricanes and is the least earthquake-y part of Central America, they build these enormously tall spindle shaped buildings. If the rule of thumb is if the tall spindle is all glass, it's a bank office building. If it's concrete and glass, it's condos and apartments.

I forgot to remember the name of this building
And the skyline is not all tall spindles. There are a number of very interestingly shaped buildings.

And honorific statuary:

The bust of Enrique Linares de Obaldia? Who's he? Why he was Procer of La Indepencencia. So there.
And lots of honorific statuary, too. All of Latin America is lousy with honorific statuary. And given that I love me some honorific statuary, that's one of the many reasons I love visiting Latin America.

Can you spot the unaccompanied minor?
My goal was to find the Iglesia del Carmen. Which looked cool in pictures.

And cool it was.

Iglesia del Carmen
Let's get closer, shall we?

Those tree branches. An artsy touch? Or distracting?
And it's not just a pretty facade. Check out the side.

Iglesia del Carmen. Profile.
Check out the detail.

Way cool roof.
Shall we go inside? Let's!

View of the altar from the rear of the church
From the front, looking back
The Infant of Prague! (The original on view in the 2011 blog of Prague)
Had to sneak a picture of this as it is popular prayer point and it's just plain rude to take a picture of someone in mid-prayer.
Very nice and much more modern than the churches I saw in Casco Antiguo -- the old town section of Panama -- that I saw on the last trip.

Walking in downtown Panama City is challenging. For one thing, there are almost no cross walks on the streets. And then there are things like this.

A hole in a sidewalk in Panama City
That is not ADA compliant!

But then again, there was this.

No. This is not the Outdoor Museum of Antique Telephony
You know you aren't in the USA anymore when you see a whole bank of pay phones right out there along the city sidewalks.

I was walking toward the most interesting shaped building in all of Panama. In all of Latin America, maybe. In all of the Western Hemisphere? Maybe even the whole dang Globe.

La Torre de la Revolucion. Revolution Tower
The building once known as the Revolution Tower. La Torre de la Revolucion. Now given the more pedestrian name of the F&F Tower.

Let's get closer, shall we?

Look at all those cars. Everyone wants a glimpse!
Oops. Too close. Lost all perspective there.

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