To Bali in 36 hours…..

Half way around the world, and some things are exactly the same. The climate ( although here is dry season ), the hustle and bustle, the trees, the vegetables in the market, even the indiscriminate dumping of trash, but there in my opinion the similarities end.

Panama has a lot of undiscovered natural beauty, but what knocks me out about Bali is the culture.

Everything seems crammed together, and the scale is smaller. Narrow, winding roads. One minute you are passing through rice paddies, with people impossibly bent over the crop, and the next second and next bend, brings a temple adorned with offerings, penjors (graceful bamboo decorations) and fabric-wrapped statues.

We were fortunate to arrive on the equivalent of Christmas day,  the Hindu festival of Galungan. It was a relief to leave the cold, dry air of the plane and walk across the tarmac in warm, humid air to the waiting bus.

Jim is here for a Bamboo Architecture & Building course, at Green School, Bali….

Looks like he will  be in the first class to graduate from Bamboo U!!





Archaeological dig anyone?

We know very little about the history of our property. Panama itself is a young country, before it was Panama it was associated with present day Colombia, and very little is known about the centuries before Columbus ‘discovered’ the area.

Our hill is called Loma Vigia, or Lookout Hill. It is the highest in the area and I do wonder who was looking out for whom. Pirates planning attacks on nearby Portobelo, indigenous Indians watching the Spanish ships sailing this coast?

Much of the land toward the summit is incredibly steep, and really only the bottom third of our 20 acres/almost 7 hectares could have supported simple farming or the building of houses.

We keep coming across broken shards of pottery, lots of it, and spread over several areas, hundreds of metres apart. Some of it is quite deep, more than a foot or 30cm down into the thick red clay which lies below the rich black topsoil. Our resident person with any experience at all (aka Jim!) says the pieces haven’t been fired at a particularly high temperature. Only one piece so far shows any evidence of an inscribed design, but several hint at the original shape of the object – and some of them were huge pots. For cooking? Storing water perhaps? We don’t know yet….. another research project for our ‘spare’ time…P1090459

Festival de Mariscos

Last month we visited the local town of Jose Del Mar to enjoy the atmosphere of their annual seafood festival. Its a typical Panamanian feria or fair with the chance to catch up with the local gossip from locals you haven’t seen since last year. It is a great people watching event but no matter how much you might feel like an outside observer it won’t be long before someone engages you in conversation. It’s more than likely your new friend will have had a drink or two even if it is just after breakfast time since the hard core feria goers don’t waste any time getting into the party spirit. As the day wares on you will want to get something to eat and since Jose Del Mar is a costal village and this is a seafood festival I would recommend some of Maria’s octopus stew or perhaps the conch. Both are wonderfully rich and are prepared by one of the very best cooks on the coast. Don’t forget to wash it down with a beer or two. This years major sponsor was Atlas, but to a Scotsman all the local beers taste much the same. Refreshing but not that interesting. A pint of eighty shilling anyone?

Heather with Nentio Vargas 2011

Heather with Nentio Vargas 2011

The big band this year were the same as last and although not in the same class as other “tipico” acts like Sammy y Sandra or Nenito Vargas they certainly earned their fee playing well into the small hours. We made our way home around midnight but the party was really just getting going…