Photos from July 2014

Costa Rica Photos from My Last Trip

By James Bloomfield

I’m heading to Costa Rica on Thursday for a short border run/friend’s wedding/insane photo trip and remembered that I had never posted any photos of my first short trip to San Jose. Enjoy the snapshot into Avenida Central circa 2011!

avenida central san jose

An old man in Avenida Central, San Jose, Costa Rica. He painted these tiny little pictures and, when I asked him if it was ok to snap a shot of him, he wished me luck. “Suerte”

avenida central san jose

Newspaper vendors in San Jose, Costa Rica. They were great fun – I’ve unfortunately lost all my other photos of them!

costa rica san jose

A street in San Jose, Costa Rica.

avenida central costa rica

A man pulling a loaded cart in San Jose, Costa Rica.

avenida central san jose

A man pushes a barrel with meats hanging from it. An odd sight.

graffiti costa rica

Graffiti in the suburbs of San Jose, Costa Rica. Lots of cool graffiti here.

buildings san jose costa rica

A building in San Jose, Costa Rica.

January 2014 Photos of the Month

By James Bloomfield

January has been a really busy month for me, with a bunch of travel and work dominating my time. I went to Colon a couple of times, travelled to the Portobelo National Park (images to come), and walked around the city a bunch. I’m always keen to get strolling around more and my new work arrangements should allow me to do this a lot more easily – meaning more images here!

I decided to include some of my Costa Rica images in another post and keep the bulk of my January images here.

Check out the pictures below and let me know what you think!

Casco Viejo, Panama

A battered red door in Panama City’s old town, Casco Viejo.

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Visit to the Mercado Publico, San Felipe

By James Bloomfield

Ah, the Mercado.

Hub of working class Panamanian life (especially in the early morning), this is one of my favourite places to spend an hour or so. I pretty much divide my time between shopping for vegetables and necessary household items (coconut oil, I’m looking at you!), chatting to stall owners, and eating at the insanely good value central cafe.

shopping in Panama

A typical interior stall at the Mercado Publico de San Felipe.

Inside, the mercado publico is divided into 4 or 5 main sections, each containing a separate type of food or product. Meat, vegetables, food stuffs like honey and coco rayado (shaved coconut), get their own sections, while a large food court dominates the center of the building. Continue reading

December Photos of Panama

A busy month for me with work, Ayudarte, and socializing – plus Christmas! This was my first ever Panamanian Christmas, which will appear in another blog soon. For now, enjoy the photos!

jungle in panama city

Obarrio, the business district of Panama City, still has outcrops of verdant green.

This is one of the times I realise that Panama is a city in flux, as there are still large swathes of brownfield site even in the most developed parts of the city. It’s beautiful, with all those trees and reclaimed concrete structures overgrown by ferns and grass.

Panama City Sunset

Sunset over Panama City, stretching from Costa del Este to Punta Pacifica.

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Street Photos November 2013

By James Bloomfield

urban gardening panama

Garden centre in San Francisco, Panama.

These photos were taken during a busy month for me. Helping to organize an art show, working with children in Colon for a few days, as well as a bunch of more corporate stuff, kept me on my toes. I decided to upload the photos I had taken in this period of time, as it was simpler than ever thanks to a new smartphone. I’m impressed at how well these turned out considering the tiny format. The one major thing I found to be perfect for using a smartphone was its discrete nature – no one is turning around at the monstrous gun barrel that the modern DSLR can represent.

Sign in Coco del Mar, Panama

Plants are from God, take care of them.

panama urban photography

Gas tank and crates at the back of Restaurante Jimmy’s

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Festival de Los Congos – Portobelo, Panama

By James Bloomfield

My first experience of the Festival de Los Congos began with a bang. Literally. As the rear axle of my compatriot’s 4×4 thudded against a rock, we knew that it was going to leave at least a couple of marks.

caribbean festival panama

A man poses with a doll’s head.

A whirling explosion of devil masks, wooden sticks, fried food and Caribbean culture, the Festival de Los Congos is unmissable. I had an amazing time watching the Caribbean culture of Panama take the centre stage for a brief time. It felt like a massive outpouring of joy and anger, as the devils whirled, the children ran through the legs of adults and smoking meat tantalized our nostrils.

panama diablos

A passionate man with a revealing perspective.

diablo rojo carribean

A close up of a Diablo.

Each costume is lovingly made and then systematically, thoroughly and brutally destroyed. It feels right. These costumes shouldn’t be preserved. They need to be sacrifical, to absorb all the manic energy and frustration of living amongst the slums on Panama’s Caribbean coast.

I couldn’t bring myself to look at another pollera after this. I love the culture of Panama but, as one of the incredibly eloquent speakers here put it, “Panama has many blacks – why don’t we have the same importance as the pollera and party dresses?”. I couldn’t help but agree; the sheer vitality of this festival and its proximity to Panama City should make it more relevant.

Nowhere have I felt more energized in Panama, as well as simultaneously saddened that this is probably likely to remain a very local event. I have had many good times in Panama but this made me feel slightly wistful – I know that lots of foreigners and Panamanians look down on the Congo culture. They really shouldn’t. There is a wealth and sense of fun here that should be more Panamanian, should spread beyond Maria Chiquita and Portobelo to knock down the complacency of the reinas and the carnavales. Perhaps it will one day….

diablo rojo panama

A Diablo stares a boy down.

diablo panama

A diablo mask.

diablo rojo panama

Diablo with lolling tongue.

James Bloomfield