Archive for August, 2012

Adios Panama!

August 27, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

It’s my last night in Panama and on this trip. I’m psyched to get home, and even to wake up at 4:15 tomorrow morning.

Today I went to the Canal at Miraflores Lock and it was pretty interesting, but also a little annoying. The tourists area was smelly and crowded, and I had a very hard time getting anyone to take a good picture of me. There was a nice breeze from the observation deck though, and I had a nice conversation with the driver.

After the canal, I went back to the hotel and finished up my work. Hasta luego!

Love, Annie

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Panama Continued

August 25, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s Saturday night in Panama, tomorrow at this time I’ll be packing up ready to head  back to Boston! I’m not too keen on this city, but today was pretty good. Yesterday was not good. I worked and then I was going to walk around the old city, but then it started pouring all afternoon and evening. I decided to check out one of the new malls (maybe it will be useful for next survey six months from now), but is was just crowded and disgusting. Then we sat in rainy traffic on the way back. I had this impression that Panama city would be really unbelievably awesome, I’m not sure why. I’m finding it to be really fair.

Today was better. I did a little work this morning, and went over to the old city, which I really liked. It was a little more peaceful than downtown. I had large, un peeled shrimps, mini empanada, salad and a bloody mary at lunch. The shrimps got very messy. There was a lot of construction for restoration in the old town, and I think when that’s finished it will be spectacular. In the third picture, I kind of creeped on this photo shoot. The lady was pretty nice looking! Tomorrow I’ll finish a few bits of online work and go see the canal!

Love, Annie

 

Hola Panama

August 23, 2012

Hola Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. I finally got to Panama, the last location. I think it’s OK so far. I haven’t done much except work, so I haven’t really given the city a fair chance yet because I haven’t done anything “fun.” It’s hot, and not THAT walkable, and I haven’t eaten anything that great yet. I thought this was a cool looking bus in the picture. Two things I’m excited to do are go to the old city (apparently there are some sweet bars and restaurants there, and it’s walkable), and see the Canal.

Love, Annie

 

Goodbye Medellin

August 22, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are having a nice week. I’m actually pretty sad to be leaving this city, It’s been so pleasant here. The weather- amazing, the people-so nice. the food-there are some gems here. I also felt very safe the whole time, which might be surprising to some people. It’s definitely in the top 5 survey locations ever.

Now that I think about it, My current top five favorite cities I’ve surveyed are (in no particular order): Kuala Lumpur, Cape Town, Anchorage, Medellín, Port Louis (Mauritius). The ones that come right next are Almaty, Moscow, and Lima. I’m sure this list will keep on changing and I’m excited to see how it does.

Today was a fairly relaxing day, as I got two important meetings out of the way by 11:30 AM. I finished up with some transcribing and phone calls, and went out to a nice lunch at La Providencia. It’s very highly rated on trip advisor, and the food was delicious. I got a light Fish dish that came with some vegetables and mashed potatoes. The food was delicious but the scenery was also extremely impressive. You can see from the second picture.

After eating, I took a long walk uphil to the hotel, finished working, and spent a bit of time exercising at the gym. Later, I went to an Unbelievable dinner at Carmen, just one block away from the hotel, I wish I had discovered it earlier.

Everything I ate at Carmen was just outstanding. I made a meal of their tacos coreanos appetizer, Korean Tacos, kind of a fusion food with beef, spicy “kimchee”, a yogurt sauce, and a flat pancake-like shell with scallions. The picture made it look like a total mess so I haven’t included it, but the dish was one of the best tasting things i’ve ever had. For dessert, what you can see in the picture, I had the Strawberrys and Cream, a strawberry soup with a little angle food cupcake, a strawberry, some ice cream made with condensed milk, and some strawberry chimmichuri made with basil (under the ice cream). It was absolutely incredible. The thing on top is a candied leaf of some sort which I did not eat.

The chefs also brought me some little bite sized tasters of different things, a shot of pumpkin and pear soup, a creamy shrimp ceviche, a ball of fried fish, some rare seared tuna with a mango salad, and a little banana bread with white chocolate cream and Parsley sauce!

Well now I’m all packed, See you from Panama City!

Love, Annie

Medellin Monday

August 21, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today was a pretty normal working day, but better than average. I really like Medellin. I had breakfast, worked in the morning, then I went to a little “old town” on top of a hill that was recommended by someone at the hotel and it wasn’t nearly as cool as I thought it would be. Way too touristy. The picture is from a viewing field near the little town. That part was cool. Since it was a holiday, there were lots of people hanging out and flying kites. After a Yogen Fruz lunch, I worked some more. Later, I exercised in the gym in the hotel overlooking the city, and then set out for dinner. Due to the holiday, the places I wanted to go to weren’t open, so I went back to the Italian restaurant from last night and got some fish.

Love, Annie

A Wonderful Weekend in Medellin

August 19, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

It was an awesome weekend in Medellin. Yesterday, I slept late and then worked, because it was a working day. I finally got my Yogen Fruz and it was everything I had hoped for. Even better because I got even more raspberries on the top.

Today was my day of tourism, and it was great. I first took the Metro to the famous cable car metro that’s attached to the metro. You just transfer at the station and get on this Gondola like at a ski resort. Pretty cool! The entire system is (of course) way nicer, more efficient, and in much better shape than Boston’s T. The cable car takes you up over a large poorer neighborhood. I was told not to get off and walk around there.

At the top of the metro I transfered to yet another Gondola for a fifteen minute ride the rest of the way up the mountain and to a park area. I met a really nice “older” but not that old couple on my way up. They are from about an hour outside Medellin and they were just visiting for the day.

At the top in the park area, there were a few food stands, and handicraft stands, and some more sit down-y restaurant shacks. I walked around there for a while and drank coffee and checked out the scene, The man and woman that I made friends with on the Gondola gave me some presents! Some liquor made from the locally grown fruits, and a bracelet that matched me shirt. What an unexpected treat.

At the end when I exchanged business cards with the lady (she’s a lawyer, an abogada, one of the first words I ever learned in Spanish from the Destinos series back in middle school), she looked at my card and then asked, “Judeo?” (Jewish?) Haha. Smart lady. My name isn’t that obviously a Jewish name but she says she knows everything because she’s a lawyer. I thought that was funny. 

After walking around for a bit, I ate lunch at one of the shacks. I just said please bring me something delicious and was not disappointed. The plate had a whole variety of things.  This third picture is of the chefs. I got some raspberries for dessert and they were Awfully sour.

After eating, I made my way back down the gondolas and took the Metro to the Botanic Gardens. My favorite exhibit was the herbs and vegetables garden that they had right next to the restaurant for use in the restaurant. There were some great looking veggies and nice smelling herbs. Overall, I thought that the flowers and plants were cool but not as impressive as the general weekend scene… there were tons of people just hanging out in the park, families, friends, couples, some playing sports games, some tanning, it was just a really nice feeling to be there. In this fourth picture you can see some Aji peppers.

After the gardens, it was later in the afternoon so I went back to my hotel to hang out before dinner. For dinner, I went to a different hotel that I had been to yesterday to do work walking distance from my hotel, and with much better food and an elegant patio setting. It’s an italian restaurant. I had this artichoke appetizer that was absolutely fabulous. It was a whole artichoke, cut into thirds, very well cooked so that you can eat most of the meat off all the leaves, dressed in some awesome spices. On the side they give you a little creamy sauce with nice herbs to dip. Artichokes are super fun to eat. I also had a salad to round out the meal. Now I’m back at the hotel, and ready to go to bed and get up early for a full day of work tomorrow. I’m slightly nervous because tomorrow is a holiday (Assumption day, I believe). I know that the malls will be open, but I’m not sure about the auto body shops, hair cut places, and laundry. I’ll make the most of the day and do my online work if necessary. Looking forward to my last working week on this South American adventure! A week from tonight I’ll be anxiously packing up for the journey home.

I hope you have a nice week!
Love, Annie

Awesome Friday in Medellin!

August 18, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Tonight I had one of those nights that makes traveling and my job incredibly special. 

In fact, the whole day was great. In the morning I had a nice meeting over coffee with a relocation agent. After that, I went to the mall. I hadn’t eaten breakfast and Really wanted a Yogen Fruz, but it turns out that mall didn’t have one (I thought it did!!). Apparently there are three of them here in Medellin. So I waited, and did my work and ate lunch at a restaurant that served Colombian food.  Yum.

After lunch, I worked some more until about 7:30 PM. Then it was time for dinner. I set out into the evening to find Yogen Fruz and a glass of wine (actually a glass of wine and then a Yogen Fruz — the internet says there’s also one in the area near the hotel and I saw someone eating it today!). I didn’t end up getting either.

After exploring the Zona Rosa evening scene, I settled at a bar/restaurant that was not empty, but also not packed full of really young people passing around bottles of Aguardiente. Ew. From the look of things at the bar, I decided it would be Really uncool to order wine, so I got a frozen cocktail like everyone else. It was strong.

Right as I was leaving, the hostess showed me to this other table with a boy and girl sitting at it and they said “We want to know you” and offered me a shot. Okay! I sat down with them and they, Stafania and Luiz (I hope I’m spelling this name right!) wanted to talk to me and practice English (and I could also practice Spanish). Did I have time now? Yep.

So I hung out with them for the next two hours drinking beer and chatting and having an Awesome time. It was so special to meet these new friends and have a relaxing and fun night. I’m glad I prioritized interpersonal relationships over frozen yogurt. Stefania is a student of Business Administration and from Medellin, and Luiz is a Saxophone player from a city on the Pacific Coast of Colombia! They met in English class at university here in Medellin.

One thing I really liked about the evening besides the company was how they served the beer, with 3/4 of an inch of lemon juice at the bottom of the glass, and the glass with a salt rim like a margarita. I guess this is pretty common.

Also, I learned that asking people to take a “pictura” of me for the past four weeks has been really silly, because the word is “foto.” Pictura is not even a word in Spanish. I can’t believe none of the 40+ people I’ve said that to have corrected me. We had quite a laugh over that. We also had quite a laugh when Luiz asked me about the Queen of England, Margaret Thatcher. Haha.

Okay, now that I’m hydrated (I’ve been drinking water the whole time writing) I’m pretty excited to get into bed.

Love, Annie

Hola Medellin!

August 17, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today I left Bogota and flew to Medellin. I’m very happy to be here. The hotel is nice, and the city is really beautiful. It’s much warmer here. This is the view from the top of the hotel.

This afternoon, I went to the supermarket to get some work done. When I was about a third of the way done (45-50 minutes in), the security guard came up to me to see what was going on because I was writing a lot of things down.

I told him a long story (in Spanish!) about how I was trying to save money and needed to calculate my budget so It was very important that I take notes. That must have seemed legit because I didn’t get any more interruptions.

I look forward to a full day of work tomorrow!

Love, Annie

Bye, Bogota, and the Ew-Face

August 16, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. I’m just about to get into bed but wanted to make a little note about today.

The day was pretty normal, I just finished up my work in Bogota. I’m pretty excited to move on to the next city  as I’m getting a little tired of Bogota. It was great, but I had a lot of headaches here. Today I ate a really disappointing lunch today at a Colombian Food restaurant.

I ordered Ceviche, my go-to. Usually, Cebiche is marinated in a lovely Lemon or lovely Lime citrus, but this one was Grapefruit. Eeyyuck. I hate Grapefruit juice. I struggled from my first bite. I tried very hard to hide my feelings about the dish but this was difficult as I make an involuntary “ew-face” when I eat things like grapefruit, and drink very hoppy beers. I ate as much as I could, hiding the ew-face as best as possible.

I took this picture of the Police Doggie because they are just adorable. This one was taken outside some of the offices that were right near my hotel. Aww.

I love you guys!!!!!!

Love Annie

Bogota Monday!

August 13, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a very productive day. I woke up early, made some phone calls, and headed out to work. This picture was from yesterday at the top of the mountain. I’m standing at the church looking out. Today, by the time I ate lunch at around 3 PM, I was extremely hungry and had a horrible headache coming on.

I get these headaches every once in a while, and today was definitely the day for one. When my head hurts like this, it’s hard to look at people directly so I feel like people think I’m suspicious or something because I’m looking at them (or not looking at them) weirdly. It’s hard to focus on one thing like someone’s eyes. For lunch, I had ceviche, plantain chips, and flan. Great, not lima-delicious, It was still delicious though in part because I was so hungry. Also the server was really nice.

I thought that eating would make the headache go away but it didn’t. This third picture is of a museum of Emeralds I went to yesterday because the driver suggested it. (Why not!). This is a little station where you learn how to cut and polish the emeralds. I think the driver may be friends with the people in the emerald museum/store next to it and wanted me to buy something. There were some nice earrings but too expensive and I felt a little pressure which I didn’t love. 

This fourth picture os of the commercial centre area from today. I tried to walk around the area of the lunch spot and some malls a little more, but the pavement on the sidewalk had a swirly design on it and was messing with my eyes and head so I decided to call it quits. I got a taxi from a nearby hotel. The fifth picture is a pretty garden shop from my first day here.

When I got back to my hotel, they saw I was in pretty bad shape and gave me some aspirin which helped a bit. The staff here are really nice. I think the night sleep will be best. But not before I catch up on Breaking Bad!

Love, Annie