Daily Archives: July 1, 2010

Preserve The Spirit of Panama’s Diablos Rojos

Yesterday my friend Omar who writes the blog Lingua Franca had a post about the demise of the colorful buses, Diablos Rojos, that rule and terrorize the streets of Panama City…http://epiac1216.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/bidding-goodbye-to-the-diablos-rojos-of-panama/.

I wrote the following comment:

I hear you, Omar, about the need to modernize and improve on the urban transportation system in Panama City, but the disappearance of the Diablos Rojos will be another step in the homogenization of the city into another bland, characterless place on a map. They give the city, and the country, a dash of color. A zestfulness that makes the city unique. Take that away and what have you got? A bunch of high rise buildings nearly indistinguishable from Miami, Casco Viejo which, to me, is reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans or the Battery in Charleston, South Carolina.

As wonderful as a new fleet of buses will be, they certainly aren’t going to go any faster on Via Espana during rush hour.

New, modern, air conditioned buses are definitely needed, but I think they should be painted up just like the Diablos. It they aren’t then I think Panama has lost a little bit of its vibrant soul and the country and its people will be a little poorer for it.

He immediately agreed with me saying:

Your idea of painting the new buses like Diablos Rojos is a wonderful idea. Panama Tourist Bureau could organize a contest for this creative project, making Panama the only country in the world where buses are folk paintings in motion.

I think you just hit the nail right in the head. I would suggest writing to the Panama Tourist Bureau, since the Minister has a direct access to President Martinelli. He was the campaign manager of Martinelli.

He understands marketing very well, and the unique buses would be a major tourist attraction. How about writing a blog about this idea? I will start tomorrow spreading the word. You could do the same with your blog as well. Maybe we could get Don Ray’s cooperation. He’s a highly respected person in Panama.

I am sending the following letter:

I apologize for writing this in English but I don’t feel my Spanish is adequate enough to express what I wish to say.

There is little doubt that the public transportation system in Panama City needs to be modernized and it’s great that the outmoded Diablos Rojos are being taken off the street. However, the loss of color and vibrancy they lend to the streets of the city should not be taken lightly. They give Panama City a zest that contributes greatly to its vitality. What would the streets of London, England, be like without its red, double-decker buses? Paris without the Eiffel Tower? New York City without the Statue of Liberty?

Replacing the Diablos Rojos with modern generic buses will make Panama City nearly indistinguishable from Miami, Florida, as a hot and humid place with high rise buildings and everyone speaking Spanish in the streets. If you Google “Diablos Rojos” you find 491,000 hits for the term, and the images section shows 62,400 results though not all of them are for buses.

For years one of the iconic images of the city of New Orleans was the Saint Charles streetcar. While it was a major tourist attraction it was more than that. It was a mode of transportation for a sizable portion of the city’s population. When the city decided to install more routes for street cars they wisely chose to make the new trolley cars look like the old ones actually adding to the character of the city.

I think Panama City would be well served if the new, modern and much needed buses were to be painted up in the tradition of the current Diablos Rojos. Doing so would accomplish several things: it would preserve a cherished local tradition, it would continue to be something tourists delight in besides the Canal, and it would also provide employment to the wonderfully creative artists who decorate today’s fleet of buses.

Losing this colorful part of the fabric of Panama City is to cut away part of its vibrant soul and the city, the country and its people will be a little poorer for it.

Omar agrees and we are on a campaign to get the new buses painted like the old ones. If you agree with us, send your own letter to: Mr. Salonpon Shamah, Minister of the Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá (Panana Tourist Authority).  His e-mail address is:  gerencia@atp.gob.pa.  Phone number  (507) 526-7110.  Fax:  Fax: (507) 526-7111.


Filed under panama, Retirement Abroad

You Can Observe A Lot Just By Watching – Yogi Bera

This morning as I was walking down our driveway here in Potrerillos Arriba, Panama, to unlock the gate I noticed some beautiful pink flowers growing among the weeds. I’ve always loved flowering things. Perhaps I’m genetically disposed that way through my paternal grandfather who used to grow what were referred to as “cut flowers for the trade.” Not only did he have large fields of gladiolus of which he produced several new varieties, but he also had greenhouses though they were in ruins when I was young.

These flowers are those of the Mimosa pudica (pudica=shy).

Wikipedia describes the plant as a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value: the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, re-opening minutes later. The species is native to South  and Central America but is now a pantropical weed.

Mimosa pudica is well known for its rapid plant movement.

Like a number of other plant species, it undergoes changes in leaf orientation termed “sleep” or nyctinastic movement. The foliage closes during darkness and reopens in light.

The leaves also close under various other stimuli, such as touching, warming, blowing, or shaking. These types of movements have been termed seismonastic  movements. The movement occurs when specific regions of cells lose turgor pressure, which is the force that is applied onto the cell wall by water within the cell vacuoles and other cell contents. When the plant is disturbed, specific regions on the stems are stimulated to release chemicals which force water out of the cell vacuoles and the water diffuses out of the cells, producing a loss of cell pressure and cell collapse; this differential turgidity between different regions of cells results in the closing of the leaflets and the collapse of the leaf petiole.

The plant has serious medicinal qualities because of its alkaloid called mimosine which has been found to have potent antiproliferative (used or tending to inhibit cell growth <antiproliferative effects on tumor cells)  and apoptotic ( a genetically determined process of cell self-destruction that is marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA, is activated either by the presence of a stimulus or by the removal of a stimulus or suppressing agent, is a normal physiological process eliminating DNA-damaged, superfluous, or unwanted cells (as immune cells targeted against the self in the development of self-tolerance or larval cells in amphibians undergoing metamorphosis), and when halted (as by genetic mutation) may result in uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation—called also programmed cell death) effects.

Its extract immobilizes the filariform larvae of Strongyloides stercoralis (threadworm) a nematode that can parasitize humans in less than one hour.


Filed under Living Abroad, panama, Retirement Abroad