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“What do the vehicles look like?”


Twillingate area correspondent Jim Hildebrand is home now and cluing up questions from Grade 9 students at J.M. Olds Collegiate about his time spent in Panama. We wonder where their next adventure will take Jim and his wife Jane?

Jane and I have finally returned to Twillingate. Needless to say the weather is a bit cooler than what we experienced on our three month Panamanian vacation.

I could have stayed longer but Jane is happy to be in her own house and bed once more. I will be finishing off a few questions that I received from Ms. Singleton’s Grade 9 English class at J.M. Olds Collegiate. For questions that I have missed I will proceed to discuss them with Ms. Singleton.

I am always pleased to answer questions about my vacations and hope that maybe talking about different places will someday create a yearning to travel with these inquisitive students. It is fun and enriching.

As an aside, now that I am back, I am once more available to cover sporting and community events, or human interest stories. If you have something that you would like to see in the Pilot please contact me at 884-1441 or at twillingatepilot@hotmail.com. I would be happy to discuss it with you.

 

— Jim Hildebrand

 

Q. Ashanti Sharpe: What are the main forms of transportation there?  What do the vehicles look like?

A. The vehicles are the same as what you would see anywhere in North America. Sometimes they are a little beat up and you could certainly wonder if they are road worthy.

When we were staying closer to Panama City we found that many of the vehicles were elaborately decorated or were decked out with flashing lights. Some of the light displays on vehicles were reminiscent of the disco era.

A lot of people love the flashing lights and this goes for emergency vehicles as well.

Ambulances and police cars were on the roads with lights blazing but we soon learned that they drove like this all the time. No one pulls over for them unless they hit the siren.

What was even more disturbing is that you can see vehicles approaching from behind with emergency lights and discover after they pass that it is just an ordinary vehicle in which someone installed them.

With all the flashing lights it is truly amazing that no one has seemed to figure out what turn signals are used for. It was very rare to see anyone signal their intention and I was constantly on the defensive because normal rules of the road seemed to be little more than a suggestion.

If you think that there is a chance that someone will pull onto the highway in front of you without any notice you had better slow down or change lanes because that is what happens. The concept of merging seemed to be lost and one of the scariest things to happen is seeing a driver pull onto an 80 or 100 km/hr highway at a speed of 20 to 40 km/hr without any indication and without accelerating to a reasonable velocity. It lead to many an anxious moment.

Because not everyone can afford vehicles the main transportation would be buses or taxis. Taxi fare and bus rides are very low priced. The buses are larger vans (14 seaters) and they would have their route marked on the windshield.

All along the roads people are flagging down the cabs or buses to get to work or for any other sort of travel. The rates are low. For example, from Punta Chame into Panama City which is about an hour and a half drive in good traffic is about $2.50 by bus. Bus fare in Panama City is also cheap with the local people using city buses to get around for about 25 cents.

I talked to one of my guides in Boquete who told me that when he moved there from Holland about 14 years ago vehicles like SUVs were rare and the main local transport through town was still on horse back or by horse and cart. How things have changed.

It is still possible to see people riding horses through more rural communities but it is nowhere as prevalent as it would have been a decade ago.

 

Q. Domanic White: What is the architecture like?  

A. Housing is changing as personal wealth grows and with the availability of modern furniture and appliances but the majority of houses that are seen in communities are built in the same fashion. They are single story residences built with cement blocks and then covered with a stucco. The roofs are a usually clay or tin in an overlapping fashion. Often there are no glass windows. The windows will have a decorative blocks that are scrolled to allow in the light.

Housing in poorer areas may not even have a door but a curtain at the entrance to the domicile. Bedrooms and a living room may be in the house but quite often kitchens are outside.

In an Indian village that I visited cooking is still outside and over fires because there is still no electricity. Even in areas where there is access electricity the climate makes outdoor cooking more convenient to keep heat out of the house. Friends that we met are renovating a house and one of their first tasks is an outdoor kitchen.

Houses aren’t sealed like we have at home. Where we are concerned about keeping heat in, Panamanian houses allow for air movement to keep them cool. Outside there is usually a covered area to provide shade and maybe a few hammocks or chairs for comfort. Sitting or napping outdoors is a normal site.

Chickens and dogs are common in the yards.

In the rainforest, because of massive rainfall during the rainy season most houses are on stilts so that they don’t get washed away. Here also the construction is out of wood that is resistant to termites. Also notable would be roofing made out of thatch.

As anywhere it is difficult to say what is typical. Panama City has a modern city skyline but you can see areas with shacks of scrap wood and tin where very poor people live. Good roads are opening areas of the country that were once only accessible by water. With the roads comes electricity and the availability of more modern materials and conveniences. It brings more prosperity with local people having better access to market to sell their crops and other goods.

As a country Panama is emerging from the third world and the population is beginning become more prosperous.

 

twillingatepilot@hotmail.com

Jane and I have finally returned to Twillingate. Needless to say the weather is a bit cooler than what we experienced on our three month Panamanian vacation.

I could have stayed longer but Jane is happy to be in her own house and bed once more. I will be finishing off a few questions that I received from Ms. Singleton’s Grade 9 English class at J.M. Olds Collegiate. For questions that I have missed I will proceed to discuss them with Ms. Singleton.

I am always pleased to answer questions about my vacations and hope that maybe talking about different places will someday create a yearning to travel with these inquisitive students. It is fun and enriching.

As an aside, now that I am back, I am once more available to cover sporting and community events, or human interest stories. If you have something that you would like to see in the Pilot please contact me at 884-1441 or at twillingatepilot@hotmail.com. I would be happy to discuss it with you.

 

— Jim Hildebrand

 

Q. Ashanti Sharpe: What are the main forms of transportation there?  What do the vehicles look like?

A. The vehicles are the same as what you would see anywhere in North America. Sometimes they are a little beat up and you could certainly wonder if they are road worthy.

When we were staying closer to Panama City we found that many of the vehicles were elaborately decorated or were decked out with flashing lights. Some of the light displays on vehicles were reminiscent of the disco era.

A lot of people love the flashing lights and this goes for emergency vehicles as well.

Ambulances and police cars were on the roads with lights blazing but we soon learned that they drove like this all the time. No one pulls over for them unless they hit the siren.

What was even more disturbing is that you can see vehicles approaching from behind with emergency lights and discover after they pass that it is just an ordinary vehicle in which someone installed them.

With all the flashing lights it is truly amazing that no one has seemed to figure out what turn signals are used for. It was very rare to see anyone signal their intention and I was constantly on the defensive because normal rules of the road seemed to be little more than a suggestion.

If you think that there is a chance that someone will pull onto the highway in front of you without any notice you had better slow down or change lanes because that is what happens. The concept of merging seemed to be lost and one of the scariest things to happen is seeing a driver pull onto an 80 or 100 km/hr highway at a speed of 20 to 40 km/hr without any indication and without accelerating to a reasonable velocity. It lead to many an anxious moment.

Because not everyone can afford vehicles the main transportation would be buses or taxis. Taxi fare and bus rides are very low priced. The buses are larger vans (14 seaters) and they would have their route marked on the windshield.

All along the roads people are flagging down the cabs or buses to get to work or for any other sort of travel. The rates are low. For example, from Punta Chame into Panama City which is about an hour and a half drive in good traffic is about $2.50 by bus. Bus fare in Panama City is also cheap with the local people using city buses to get around for about 25 cents.

I talked to one of my guides in Boquete who told me that when he moved there from Holland about 14 years ago vehicles like SUVs were rare and the main local transport through town was still on horse back or by horse and cart. How things have changed.

It is still possible to see people riding horses through more rural communities but it is nowhere as prevalent as it would have been a decade ago.

 

Q. Domanic White: What is the architecture like?  

A. Housing is changing as personal wealth grows and with the availability of modern furniture and appliances but the majority of houses that are seen in communities are built in the same fashion. They are single story residences built with cement blocks and then covered with a stucco. The roofs are a usually clay or tin in an overlapping fashion. Often there are no glass windows. The windows will have a decorative blocks that are scrolled to allow in the light.

Housing in poorer areas may not even have a door but a curtain at the entrance to the domicile. Bedrooms and a living room may be in the house but quite often kitchens are outside.

In an Indian village that I visited cooking is still outside and over fires because there is still no electricity. Even in areas where there is access electricity the climate makes outdoor cooking more convenient to keep heat out of the house. Friends that we met are renovating a house and one of their first tasks is an outdoor kitchen.

Houses aren’t sealed like we have at home. Where we are concerned about keeping heat in, Panamanian houses allow for air movement to keep them cool. Outside there is usually a covered area to provide shade and maybe a few hammocks or chairs for comfort. Sitting or napping outdoors is a normal site.

Chickens and dogs are common in the yards.

In the rainforest, because of massive rainfall during the rainy season most houses are on stilts so that they don’t get washed away. Here also the construction is out of wood that is resistant to termites. Also notable would be roofing made out of thatch.

As anywhere it is difficult to say what is typical. Panama City has a modern city skyline but you can see areas with shacks of scrap wood and tin where very poor people live. Good roads are opening areas of the country that were once only accessible by water. With the roads comes electricity and the availability of more modern materials and conveniences. It brings more prosperity with local people having better access to market to sell their crops and other goods.

As a country Panama is emerging from the third world and the population is beginning become more prosperous.

 

twillingatepilot@hotmail.com

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