Deeper into the Corregimiento’s

October 5, 2012

Going deeper into Panama takes me away central downtown area out into the Corregimiento’s….I have to admire the sincerity of my hosts, for they just aren’t showing me certain sections of the city.  They don’t want me to support them with a myopic vision.  Thus, I get a chance to really get to know Panama!

Heading out into the districts…we will visit Ancon, Chorrio, San Felipe, Bathania, Tocumen, and Mananitas!  We’ll also be talking with some of their district representatives to get some much deeper insight into the quality of life and what is influencing it in their respective communities.  First stop – Ancon.

Ancon resides fairly close to the canal zone, and faces a major dichotomy.  One one side there are thriving communities, beautiful architecture, good economic activity….very warm aesthetics…on the other side, you have many of the individuals staying who came primarily to work around the canal…including the recent expansion projects.  Great meeting with the local representatives….great discussion on issues that many cities face: quality of life, housing structure, storm-water drainage, etc.  Great Start!

Beautiful home with the traditional roof…man, feels like I am hosting HGTV or something….not my thing, but amazing things do demand respect and acknowledgement!  An issue that has required a resolution is population density.  Next to this home you see a multi-family style residence.  That is their attempt to increase density throughout the area and reduce population sprawl.  Again, the contrasts are constant, I found this next house to be really interesting on the eyes 🙂

There are plenty of other photo’s I could show for the other sides of this neighborhood, but I don’t want to be overly repetitive.  Some of these areas, although in different districts, look quite the same.  So, I won’t show all the areas…just the representative ones…

Heading out to another district, we stopped to get some refreshments:

This stand sells ‘Sugar Cane Juice’.  You know, the juice that comes from a stalk of sugar cane….it is somewhat greenish in color (light)….and it is sweet to the tongue.  Really highlights the difference between commercialized juice and non-commercialized.  The juices here are ridiculous.  Pineapple, Melon, Papaya, Orange, Baby Coconut…don’t have the acidity and thickness associated with what you would by the store.  This stuff is fresh and light, makes it seem as though you will outlive Zeus 🙂

Next stop is Bathania.  Took a really informing ride-a-long with their officials….we went deep 🙂  I’ll save that information for the strategic plan 🙂  However, their community center resides right next to their athletic facilities.

If you know anything about Latin America, then you know that they will ‘cut’ you over Football (Soccer) or Baseball! 🙂  To the left of the main building is an indoor soccer area….clean…very very clean….

And, just so happens that a scout from the Washington Nationals was there to observe a few young men strut their stuff.  This facility is located right next to the soccer area….some of these kids start playing baseball as young young children…driven by their aspirations to make it to the big leagues….and the big leagues are always down here looking to oblige the local talent.

Heading out into the other districts, we find similar structures.  It’s as if Public Housing has a particular design that is used all over the world.  Remind you of anything particular in Chicago:

Something that is readily apparent here though despite any circumstances or challenges….faith is something that permeates this culture.  Everywhere you go, you see tributes here and there as reminders of faith:

and at another park in the middle of a small neighborhood:

Interestingly enough, for what could be said about some of their challenged communities…they have done a pretty decent job of getting the private market to engage these communities.  All over the United States there are discussions on how to get markets, stores and other service providers to establish locations in challenged communities…well, obviously, there are some things to be learned from Panama:

Have to make sure there is balance in the perception.  While Panama has its share of high rises…and its challenged communities, it also has its share of regular neighborhoods…although the colors at times let you know that there is nothing comparatively regular here 🙂

I was once talking with a friend of mine about overseas travel, and the discussion led to how there is a perception, at times, that in the U.S. we warehouse our older people.  That concept, I found to be really amazing.  And, as I have traveled, I can see where that perception gains its strength.  Driving through this community, we see where the government is installing machines in the parks.  These machines are for mature and elder citizens, so that they can have a place to exercise to maintain and improve their health….quite interesting:

Heading further out into the periphery of the city, we get to areas such as Tocumen and Mananitas.  These areas have been influenced by high degrees of migration from across the region.  The infrastructure was not necessarily in place to manage this growth, and so what you find in this area are the ‘Informal Settlements’.

Some of these areas can pose challenges to maintaining a good quality of life, the rains and the drainage here always must be faced!  But, I don’t feel the need to focus in on the challenges, they do deserve to be addressed; however, the ‘little homey’ here seems to be doing his thing…and I find that to be more delightful 🙂

I certainly am grateful for the opportunity to become immersed in such an educational experience.  This was our guide for the day, who took us throughout the district and explain life in her community.

On the way back to the central city, we are reminded that in the world we live in…someone has to be around to, as we say, ‘hold it down.’  At any given time, you may see these gentlemen…two on a motorcycle…weaving through traffic….’Nino Brown Style’…trying to keep the peace!

And, although this world has its challenges….it’s always nice to have a truck load of fresh pineapples to remind you how sweet life is….I bet some of you saw the Mcdonalds sign in the background and though I was referring to the sweetness of Mac D’s…NO…not the case…what did I say earlier about contrasts…

But, at the end of the day…whether we are discussing sweetness or challenges, we have to remember that this should be about helping humanity….can we look passed the environment, regardless to whether it is challenged or sweet, and see a person’s humanity….and work to maintain that pearl….

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