No, it's not a jeepney, and I didn't take the picture myself. This, above, is a pitcher of a painted Panama bus. I was wondering, before I arrived last night, if I really should post about my Panama trip on atlas(t): Galleon Trade, but one gander at the buses in Panama City laid my concerns to rest. This trip belongs on this blog.
Aside from the jeepney-esque buses, the close (but no ceegar) latitude of Panama City to Manila (Panama is souther, but less stifling hot), the history as a Spanish colony and then, in the 20th century, as an American colony, and its importance on a major trade route (in Panama, that last clause is an understatement), I say, aside from all that, I'm making this trip at exactly the same time I made the Manila trip last year. So there.
The trip is actually the perfect expression of travel, trade, and hybridity: it's a family reunion. My (Chinese) mother's oldest brother lives here, as do his two oldest daughters and their assorted kin. His daughters, my first cousins, are fourth generation Panamanian Chinese (my grandfather was, if you count back, second generation). But my mom was actually born and raised in Hong Kong. As I was just telling someone the other night, scratch any overseas Chinese family (or Filipino family) and you'll find that they haven't migrated just once, or to just one place, or in just one direction, or definitively, ever.
I arrived in Panama City last night, as I said, after a long day of nothing much at all. Today we were supposed to go yum cha (Chinese dim sum brunch) with the relatives, but somewho that got squashed so we "just" had a Chinese seafood banquet lunch instead, for, like, four hours. Got a quick drive through the city, and then had another meal at my cousin's house, complete with a gourmet coffee tasting (of coffee from Panama) and then ... what else? ... karaoke.
Tomorrow we're off to a resort in the rain forest. Onna beach. Envy me.
Don't worry, there will be art in all of this, by hook or by crook. And I will be taking pitchers of the buses. And I have some stuff coming up about the canal. Oh yes, the canal. Boo ya.