Monday, January 30, 2012

"Typical" Weekend

Because it was more relaxing with absolutely no plans, I would say that this was a pretty typical summer weekend here in Panama, with a little AIESEC pizazz mixed in. Also, since I want to take advantage as much as possible while I´m here, I think I could argue that my weekends pretty much start on Thursdays.

Thursday after work, my friend Juan Carlos (our tour guide last year for my Fisher class trip with the most amazing group ever) picked me up and we went to get a couple drinks and grab some food before his evening classes at the university. He took me to a more local hang out close to the canal and right next to the Panama Canal Railway, the alternative and more expensive mode of transport to the canal. It was a neat little bar and restaurant with a nice patio right out next to the tracks. Despite the location, it was not loud since the trains were near the end of the line there and moving slowly. JC and I caught up on everything; work, friends, the Fisher groups, travel, plans, love life... everything! We also enjoyed a few Panama beers as the sun went down. We talked about going on a couple excursions of which fishing and seeing his hometown I am most excited about. I have to start thinking that I don´t have that long here! Yikes! Anyway, he dropped me off on his way to class and I cannot wait to hang out again!

After getting dropped off that evening, I ran upstairs to change and meet a everyone down on the, Cinta Costera right by the water, for a run. I forgot that our new roommate was supposed to arrive and I ran into her as I was on my way to change. We talked super briefly, which I feel kinda bad about for being rude and rushed, but promised to catch up later. I ran all the way down to the Cinta and ended up crossing paths with Carlos. I love running down there because it is such a well maintained area and perfect for evening and night exercise. When the rest of our group arrived, we were 6 in all, not bad for motivation. While we did get a good workout in, we spent a lot of time chatting... or gossiping... about our experience so far, the good and the bad. I am super thankful that I have other interns close by and as good friends that we can share our experience. As much as I do not like complaining, I think everything we talk about is good to bring up, as long as problems get communicated to the hosting entity. It also helps us be more accepting of the little things. What I hope we all get out of our little vent fests is the opportunity to look at ourselves and try to be more accepting and flexible before blwoing things out of proportion. I think that is a huge part of the AIESEC learning experience when going abroad; considering what is wrong, identifying who can best handle it, and taking the appropriate action, whether than be chaning yourself or soliciting help from someone else. Anyway, Thursday ended with Carlos and I hanging out a big with Michaela then crashing for Friday.

Friday was the "big day" of my presentation of the material I have be going over a revising from Heineken to launch the new Performance Management System. I spent the day going over the slides, fixing my slide guide, and wrapping up the PM guide as a handout. I have to say in retrospect, that despite my serious efforts, they were not the best. They were the best they could have been at that point in time, though and now I have better ideas on how to make the presentation of the material more accessable and easier to understand. I am thankful that this first presentation was to the HR department so we can work through the material together and make it as accessable as possible for the first launch. I am now much happier with my output after their feedback and my latest revisions. I think its close to ready :)

Friday I stayed after work a bit to chat with my mom, who arrives Tuesday for a short visit. After, I went straight to Johana´s to skype with Mike then leave for the UTP AIESEC meeting and the last meeting of the current EB. I don´t know if I didn´t make it clear enough that I wanted to leave at 6 to make the meeting at 6:30 but when I was ready to leave Johana got in the shower. Then got ready. Then I had to say at 6:20.. look, I´m leaving now.. like walking out the door, if you´re coming with me, its going to be now. and I had to hurry her along to which she said you know no one gets there on time anyway. Two things went through my head, one that was solid american culture, and the other was a question I had, which was later confirmed. The first: they and you might not get there on time but I do. Second: this is an AIESEC meeting, not going out for drinks at the bar, you get there on time. Either way it was a long way from her apartment and we arrived about 45 minutes late after taking the bus, walking, then getting picked up and driven to the house. Lauren= frustered... deep breath... ok we´re here.

everyone at the LC meeting!

Presenting ideas for social problems
I really wish we would have been there for the whole thing because it was interesting to see how they do their meetings. First of all, they do not ahve them very often, probably once a month or so. This meeting was also on a friday, on the patio and in the parking area of one of the member´s private home. It lasted several hours and had some neat components. The Local Learning Team (or something close to that name) designed the entire agenda and executed the presentations and activities. We got up and did interactive fun ones, discussed social problems and how to solve then through exchange, and learned about social businesses. Mauricio also gave an AWESOME presentation about Bolivia and now pretty much everyone wants to go there, including me, to see the entire country. It looks amazing, and the food was such a tease! Here are some of the reason I want to see Bolivia...

Salar de Uyuni, have to see it once in my lifetime
Camino de la Muerte.. have to try it once right? Nothing more exhilirating than a 500m drop

Lake Titicaca
yah, thats a highway. I hear some people do it on bike... silly tourists... that would totally be me!
At the end they had a little review of the year and the accomplishments of that EB, complete with celebration and cake. We mingled and then dispursed. All in all a great meeting and some neat ideas for LCs back home.
Happy 3rd birthday UTP, congrats on becoming full members!

Most of the Group!
After the meeting we all rushed home to get ready to go out. The destination was a place named Relic in the old part of Panama. I love that bar because it is connected to a hostel so there is always a bunch of travelers around, as well as locals, and it is half inside and half outside. The inside part is like a grotto, completely covered in stone so its cool and kinda feels underground. The outside part is also surrounded by stone walls and the surrounding older buildings with trees and plants and you can look up and see a perfect night sky. Yes, I love relic. Plus, the music was awesome and we danced the night away. When the bar closed, Carlos, Mauricio and I walked around Casco Viejo a bit because it was Carlos´ first time. It is just as wonderful during the night, maybe even better, because it is so peaceful, everything is lit up, and you can hear the ocean lapping against the old city walls. We enjoyed the quiet of the night, then hopped in a taxi and went back to finish the bottle of Peruvian Pizco, which for Carlos and I was a mistake after having beer, gin, rum AND tequila at the bar. Whoops. The 3 of us were up til 5:30 talking about everything, most of which I remember, then crashed.

Bruno and Luis, Brazil and Peru
Saturday was an incredibly lazy day. I think I finally got out of bed at about 12:30 and was still tired most of the day. Carlos and I had a few people over and we took advantage of the pool we have at our building. It was a bit chilly but refreshing while the sun was on our terrace. I took a nice long nap next to it and woke up not being able to feel my hand because I slept on my bracelet. Yay nice deep sleep. That evening we had a group over to pregame and planned to head over to the bar part of one of the casinos next to our apartment. We spent probably 5 hours playing Kings, which everyone loved. Love enough to play about 6 rounds of it since different people kept arriving and wanting to play. We found out a lot about each other and I like some of the new rules we came up with for King, like every time the girls drink the guys have to give us massages. Win! At about midnight we headed over to the casino where I was under the impression they had salsa dancing every night. Unfortunately Saturday they turn it into a club with a cover so we decided to buy another bottle from the grocery store and head back to the apartment. Salsa dancing on Thursday instead! The rest of the evening felt a little slow because the group was taking forever to make decisions (typical panamanian?) and I was getting tired from Friday´s festivities. Either way we got through a few more rounds of never have I ever (Yo nunca in Spanish) and laughed a ton. We finally had to push people out more or less at 3 so I could sleep.

Sunday I woke up and again had no motivation to do anything. Good thing I didnt have to make any plans because when I woke up Carlos told me our Guatemalans were coming to meet us to go to Luis (peru) and Bruno´s (brazil) pool on the East Coast. Within about 20 minutes I was up, ready and in a taxi over to their pool. Let me tell you, our apartment and pool has nothing compared to theirs. They are interning with Procter and Gamble, which is over by where they live and little far from the heart of the city, but it is all new money over there and just gorgeous. I´m not complaining, our place is awesome and in a great, easy to reach area, but DAMN. Pool overlook the bay, gym, gorgeous furnished apartment for 3. They have it good. We were a large group hanging out at the pool and spent a good amount of time playing with my underwater camera. I´m including the proof of that. We discussed plans to go to the Caribbean soon so we can play in the clear water over there. Hopefully by next weekend I´ll have pictures of that.

stolen camera but beautiful picture!
We decided to leave before dark so we could get ready for the rest of the week and eat finally. Plus I wanted to get online to chat with my mama who gets here on TUESDAY! So Mauricio and I ventured out and ended up eating KFC (haha I know, so typical here... and yet it kinda is because they eat SO MUCH chicken!) then wandered over to Ernesto´s to hang out for a bit and watched a hilarious Dominican (i think?) movie. Then went back to my apartment, hung out with Carlos and Michaela who had spent the whole weekend with her boyfriend at a horse show and did some final weekend bonding and decompressing.

I think my favorite parts of the weekend were the times when I was dancing, laughing, or just sitting with such a diverse group and hearing about their experiences and learning. Over the last few days I have spent time with people from Panama (obvi), Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico (hope i didn´t forget any!). That made my weekend totally AIESEC and puts a huge smile on my face. Pretty much the perfect weekend to decompress a bit and get ready for a hectic week. Work is going very well and I´m diving into the meat of my Recruiment and Selection Project now. Plus over the next couple weekend I plan on traveling and seeing more. My mom arrives tomorrow and will be here until Friday! Whoopieee

Me with my Rommie!
"Miss" Guatemala as we call her
Pool on the east coast!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Panama vs. USA

I had the good luck to be invited to a soccer game last night. A friendly match between the US of A and Panama as luck would have it. When I arrived, Ernesto told me he was planning on going with some work friends so I shoveled out the $12 to go to the game and get the experience. Unfortunately his friend had to cancel last minute because his dad was sick in the hospital AND his car had gotten robbed there while he was visiting his dad just minutes before he was about to leave for the game. That man´s luck has to get better. And he will have to come with us next time

In preparation for the game, I bought a Panama shirt over the weekend to wear. Everyone asked if I was going to wear a USA shirt to the game but I have been to Latin American soccer games before and I know how they treat the opposing team, win or lose. Plus I told them I did not come all the way to Panama to buy a USA soccer shirt!

Since the brewery is a sponsor of the team, I was able to wear the jersey and jeans to work yesterday. Nothing gets Panamanians excited like their soccer team on game-day except a blonde wearing their soccer team´s jersey on game-day. I got even more hoots, honks, stares, comments, and I don´t know what else than any other day but it was all in good fun. During work everyone was excited that I would get to go to the game. Then, at about 3:30, it started pouring rain (we heard it on the roof) and everyone heard me let out a big "NOOOOOOO"  and we all laughed. It poured for about 15 minutes then was done.

I went to Ernesto´s for a quick dinner before we drove out to the neighborhood where the stadium is. We had philly steak and cheese sandwiches. He better stop cooking all this good food or I might be showing up for dinner more often. We left a little later than we probably expected and hit a bit of traffic along the water. Luckily Ernesto knows his way around pretty well and we parked at his sister´s right by the stadium. We said a quick hello and were off to the game!

The traffic and people were increasingly crazy as we neared the stadium. They would also only let you in the gate where your ticket allowed even though you could walk around once you were in there. We tried one gate but were told to go to the next, which of course had a giant line that seemed to not move. Plus people were running around everywhere so it was hard to tell if people were cutting way up ahead or just trying to push in. The time ticked away in that line and people got in and left it. When we were about halfway through it we heard the National Anthems start and I was starting to get... let´s say antsy... because we had arrived with plenty of time and were about to miss the start! Anyway, we waited some more. When I started seeing people who were previously around us inside the gate I should have said screw it, but we waited. our line eventually got up to the gate and it was chaos. People pushing in from every angle past 3 guards blocking the way who you had to duck under to get it. Inefficient AND chaotic... but we got in. I would like to note that Johana suggested we take a picture in line to remember what it was like and I vehemently said no because I was so... antsy... but looking back she was probably right, Sorry Johana!
Panamanian version of Block O

Once inside we looked for space to sit together. Seats aren't assigned but the stadium isn´t too big so there isn´t really a bad seat. The game was a ton of fun. The US had already scored by the time we got there so the crowd was probably even more animated. People jumped to their feet every time there was a break-away or we were on the US´s turf, lots of yelling, especially coaching since stereo-typically everyone there knows soccer. But it was awesome. I even go to shout some things I had picked up in Spain and Brazil. It was a dirrrrty game too so lots of opportunity to use my best phrases. We had one break-away just before the goal box and he was about to score but pretty much got trampled and tripped by the defenders. The crowd didn´t like that, even less because he was hurt and the trainers had to come out with the stretcher. He was able to walk off but did not come back in. Intense.

but he´s ok!
Cheers to Panama!
While at the stadium I tried two typical game favorites. Of course, BEER which was only a dollar. And it was Panama so even better. I wonder if they´ll use some of my pictures as marketing? I also tried this local fare, which I forget the name of and I hope Johana will write in the comments. It was small, hard-boiled eggs in a creamy spicy sauce. They look weird, especially in their containers, but they were so good! They were also like... $.50. Nom nom.

Beer and eggs haha
Since Panama was getting a little slow and it didn't look like they were going to score, we decided to duck out a few minutes early, and we weren't the only ones. We ran back to Ernesto´s sisters´ said our hellos, thank yous and goodbyes, and hit the road to beat the traffic. Im sure we slipped out just in time but we got home fast. Good thing too cause we were all dead.

Let it be known that I definitely want to go to another game before I leave!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brewery, Jazz Fest, New Apt

Too many days without writing! Bad Lauren. Time to memory dump.

Friday was a quick day at work. In the morning I got a tour of part of the production facility. Mainly what I saw was the end of the bottling process when the bottles go into the Bodega to await distribution. Never have I seen so much beer in my life! Mountains of it. TOWERS of it. It was amazing. And all of it freshly off the line waiting to be loaded into trucks and dispersed throughout the country. It is all so efficient. Also, because our supply does not meet demand, they are building a new loading dock to be able to move product faster as well as in anticipation of an expansion of the production facilities.

Yeah, beer.
 I still have to see the interior of the production facility because what I saw Friday was part of logistics, meaning finished product waiting to be dispersed. My tour of the production facility will be happening next week. No promise of pictures but fingers crossed.

On Friday I also got to meet with the head of our department to get a better idea of what I will be working on. My first mini project is a presentation about the program I have spent the last 3 or 4 days learning about. It is a new Performance Management (PM) program that Heineken International is rolling out. When I say new, I mean we have to tell the rest of the HR department about it, then all the heads of the key departments. So new in fact that I now know the most about it. My longer term project that I will develop over the course of my internship is a formalized recruitment and selection process complete with metrics. There is a process in place but it is a bit inconsistent. Since the company plans to grow, they want to make sure they can get the right people in the places they need. Cue me.

Day View from Ernesto´s apartment. 
Going to "run" at dusk
Friday was the first time I arrived in Ernesto’s apartment before sundown. So I finally got to see the view from his balcony during the day. It was totally worth the short lunch. I iput my exercise clothes on and Johana and I went to exercise down at the Cinta Costera, a waterfront path just a few blocks from the house. Being our first time there, we took more pictures and took in the view more than do actual exercise but it was worth it! Twilight there was incredible.

It doesn´t suck
When we arrived back home Mauricio had just arrived. He was supposed to run with us but unfortunately he lives considerably far away for the moment, so that was the earliest he could get there. At least it was just in time for dinner! Ernesto ended up cooking for us so we all had dinner together. Italian pasta with shrimp, caprese salad, specialty beer, a great dinner!

Ingrid (Panama), Gabriel (R. Dominicana),
Johana (Colombia), Oscar (Colombia)
That night we were invited to the apartment of some other AIESEC interns. We spent most of the evening there playing cards, drinking local I don’t know what, and talking about AIESEC experiences, dances, and everything we had done so far in Panama. Johana and I spent most of our time avoiding poker by playing a drinking version of Blackjack. I think she is ready for Blackjack in the casinos now. At the end of the night, when everyone was feeling fine, they put on some salsa music. Around Americans I’m confident dancing salsa, but with all Latin Americans… yah not so much. Hopefully I’ll be better by the time I leave. Or at least not so embarrassed haha.  The night flew by and I ended up getting home around 5 am. Ah AIESEC parties.

I had a bit of a mini crisis when I arrived home because I could not open the door to the apartment. The problem was that the key was in the other side of the door, a habit that Ernesto has so it is harder to get in, if anyone is trying to pick the lock. But that also meant that I could not open, so I had to call him at 5, wake him up, and have him unlock the door. Embarrassed. Either way, we both crashed.

Walking into Casco Viejo
Saturday was a bit of a slow start after getting home at 5. Johana arrived about the time I got up as we were planning on going to a Jazz Festival in the old part of town. Well… long afternoon short, we had planned to leave at 12 or 1 but decided to relax, nap, eat, and wait for Mauricio. We ended up getting down to Casco Viejo at 3. Casco Viejo is probably my favorite part of Panama City. While it is not the oldest part (there are some ruins from the old Pirate city) it is the neatest with history and tiny little street, gorgeous buildings and balconies. We got out of the taxi right at the entrance into Casco Viejo and walked along the coast past some of the renovated buildings. They continue renovating the area from the outside in, so it is nice and “new” at the entrance, but as you go deeper gets a bit decrepit. It is one of my dreams to buy a rundown building there and renovate it into a hotel, or apartment, or whatever. I love the area that much.

 Since know the area fairly well, I took the other two around a bit to see the neatest parts. Along the seawall you can see the city across the bay and you end up walking through a hanging garden to get to the farthest point, a plaza called the French Plaza, in honor of the French attempt to build the canal and all the lives that were lost. This plaza was also one of the first prisons in the area, so it has a stony, old look. There is an oblique in the middle that functions as a sun dial, and at its base has large iron plaques that represent the Americas, explain the canal, and respect the country and its fortune. The COOLEST part is that one of them can be pushed open and is an escape tunnel out of Casco Viejo. The old prision part has been converted into a chic restaurant called the Bovedas, and it has the original torch holders as part of the décor.

Path through garden along water
City View from under garden

Panoramic of the plaza. Far left is the causeway and entrance to the canal, far right is Panama City

Las Bovedas, one of the chambers. 

Bride getting out of car!
Wandering through Casco Viejo you can see a few run down cathedrals from the old days. They keep the remains intact. There is a church that remains completely functional and it is known as the church of the golden alter. Guess why? Yes, the alter is pure gold. Mauricio, Johana and I went to see this church and as we walk up, we realize that there is a wedding going on. We arrived just in time for the bride to step out of the car and walk into the church. It was a magical moment and absolutely perfect timing! Although we couldn’t see the church at that moment, we decided to head over to the music and come back.

The jazz festival was just as I expected; in a cozy plaza in front of another large church being renovated and with lots of people. Fortunately, it was sprinkling warm rain on and off and not as many people decided to venture out. While it was busy, it wasn´t as packed as we were told to expect. Fun and relaxing none the less.

Golden Alter with Wedding
Before leaving, we passed by the church again and they let us sit in the back during the wedding. Again we got there for the perfect parts. The end, the kiss, the family pictures. And all in front of a gold alter. Just lovely.

We walked back along the Cinta Costura and enjoyed the view and the sunset. We had every intention of going out that night but ended up crashing instead. A night of relaxation and plenty of sleep was so worth it!

Panama city and Casco Viejo from the Cinta Costera, a walkway along the bay

Sunday Johana and I went with Ernesto to a pool in our neighborhood. It is free and Olympic size so we spent a couple hours there enjoying the water, exercising, and of course playing with my waterproof camera. While it is not its first time in the water, it is the first underwater picture. Good stuff to come once I get to the Caribbean waters.

The 3 of us also ventured out to a mall to get me a Panama soccer shirt for the game this Wednesday against the US. Even though the game is against my home country, I did not come to Panama to buy a US soccer shirt… so I´ll be sporting red and there for the enjoyment of competition... and not getting things thrown at me haha.

Sunday evening I was taken to see my new apartment where I would be living with two interns. I have to say, for a shared apartment with student interns, it is pretty awesome. 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, large living space, decent kitchen, washer-dryer, and a community pool all in a lively district that is easy to get to, easy to reference, and has everything I need pretty close by. Yah, AIESEC UTP did well :D My roommate is from Peru and his name is Carlos. My 2nd roomie is supposed to arrive this week. While the apartment is great, it was missing a few important things. Fortunately Carlos let me borrow the sheet he wasn’t using, but I had to wait until the next day to get some things like… toilet paper, pillow, towel, etc. My suggestion is to ask these things ahead of time or move in at a time that you still can go out and get them!

I moved in Sunday night and did not have much time to unpack as the AIESECers were gathered over at another intern´s apartment farther east. So I put on my bikini and we peaced out to the pool over there. About 15 people were hanging out enjoying the pool area. This apartment building was amazing. The pool overlooked the bay area and you could see most of the skyline, including the trump tower. I will have to get pictures during the day because it is just too much. To our pleasant surprise, they also had a huge firework show that night for Lunar New Year. All-in-all crazy awesome weekend.

Monday while working on my project, I was thinking about the pool all day. Over the last 3 days or so I have been translating, organizing  (their presentation was messy) and making an awesome presentation in Prezi. (side note: it was also one of my goals to learn Prezi while down here. Goal not only accomplished early but MASTERED).  Yesterday I finished it and today I finished translating the guide for the slides to go with it. When I met with my supervisor to show her my fantastic prezi, she really liked it and suggested that since I know the most about it, I present it. OMG. There will be practicing in front of the mirror tonight. Yikes. Although, because the game is tonight, we´ll see how much  time I have for that… it´s all about the experience, right?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cervecería Barú, Panama, First Days of Work

With almost a week under my belt at the brewery, I figured it was time to get my thoughts together and fill everyone in! Actually, the truth is that I wanted to post two days ago... just haven´t had time. Oops.

The Lineup 

So Tuesday was my first day. My oh-so-kind alumni host was nice enough to drive me to work on the first day and accompany me to make sure I met with who I needed to find. While I feel he is going above and beyond to make sure I am comfortable, he reassures me that he wants to give me the best AIESEC experience possible. Other LCs. and VPs ICX... Take NOTE! Thank you Ernesto for being so thoughtful!

After checking in with reception I was escorted to the Human Resources department office where I met about half the team I would be part of. This week is a little unique as many are out traveling to our other facilities or on other similar business trips. The first day there were 4 of us which was probably better so I can go about learning everyone´s names and responsibilities slowly. Since the first day I have met 1 person each day and next week I will meet the last so we will finally be a full team, 8 in all.

The fun little surprise the first day was that they were expecting me on Monday. While in the end it was no big deal, I felt so bad to have confused the days and don´t know where the start date got lost in translation. Either way, my first day I jumped right in. I semi invited myself into an interview first thing in the morning with a potential forklift operator. During the interview, my US-based HR mindset raised some red flags with a few of the questions ask of the interviewee but I have to remember that I am not in the US! Labor law is going to be different. So immediately after I got my hands on a copy of the Panamanian Labor Law... stimulating stuff, let me tell you.

The majority of my first day was filled with system education. Heineken International is rolling out a new Performance Management system so I went about reviewing and educating myself on the old system and the new. This has filled several of my days, going through the details on the training and understanding what the managers and incumbents will have to understand. The process and material is not new to me, all standard HR teachings, but what is interesting is the way different companies benchmark to the standard and then implement it in their own way, aligned with culture. I am about knee deep right now in the "Heineken Way." All in all my first day was pretty low key with learning and observing without overwhelming me.

Since then my experience has been escalating. Wednesday I started having meeting with the heads of the various department. On that day, I met with the head of Marketing, Finance and Logistics. Here are some key takeaways to give you an idea of how neat this company and the industry are here in Panama.

Marketing: About 10 years ago, Cerveceria Baru was barely on the map and its brews, including its now star seller, were basically unheard of. About 6 years ago, the tides began to change and the stars aligned (with some smart marketing moves and a plan gone wrong by the competition) for the beer "Panama" and since then, the charts of preference and profitability have basically inverted. "Panama" is now the preferred beer of Panamanians, the most trusted, and of course, the beer that Panamanians believe most represents them. Apart from these HUGE wins, Panama has also won 3 international awards. My fun fact from Marketing: In Panama, beer costs $.45 per bottle, water $.60 and coke $.75. Yes, Panama is the only country in the world where beer is 1. so cheap and 2. cheaper than water and coke!

Finance: When the Baru Brewery was acquired in 2002 through 2006 it was under-performing and less profitable than the rest of Heineken International. With a change of leadership and the stars aligning for their lead brand, the beer "Panama" took off like a rocket and in 2006 the brewery turned a small profit... which was supposedly all spent on a Christmas party to celebrate the new era. Since the turn around the profits have skyrocketed. Even despite a small setback with potable water last year (remember the historic moment when the canal closed for the first time in history because of so much rain?) soon the company will be completely profitable, something they were not projected to achieve until 2018. #winning. 

Logistics: Because their star beer, Panama, took off so quickly, the production facility is unable to keep up with demand and many store shelves and bar fridges go empty in just a couple days of receiving stock. They stamp each bottle with the day it is completed and those that go into commercial use are returned to be refilled. In the return queue, you can find bottles that have been consumed and returned in just 3 DAYS. The average is close to 15 but that is absolutely RIDICULOUS! 

In all, my learnings have shown me that this is an awesome company with great potential and could fall under the category of Good to Great with sustained growth. The people here are passionate about their brands and selfless with their time and dedication. I am very excited and proud to grow with the company and be part of something at the heart of Panama. 

I will probably post again later today about the brewery as I have a very neat experience on my agenda today; a tour of the production facility. We shall see what pictures I am allowed to take and post but either way, I am very excited!

As far as work-life balance I have had some fun experiences after work too. After leaving work on Monday it took me about 90 minutes to get home, largely because of my own ignorance. I made it to the bus stop just fine and was waiting there with a small crowd. I proceeded to miss 3 buses because 1. they didn´t stop and 2. I didn´t know if I had to wave or something to get on. Either way, I signaled the next one which also did not stop but who pointed in front saying that I had to go to the next bus stop. Ok, now i know how to catch the bus. 

Ernesto was kind enough to meet me at the stop and accompany me home so I would know the way. We went a bit of a round about way so I could see some things in our neighborhood but it was more confusing than helpful. The rest of the night was spent in the grocery store getting me the makings for lunch and snacks and then in the old part of town, known as Casco Viejo. I will write more about Casco Viejo after this weekend because we will be spending time there but I do have to say that I absolutely LOVE Casco Viejo. It is old, with tight streets, classy buildings but half in destoryed and weathered while they work to renovate some of the old buildings. It is my dream to renovate one of the buildings there, they´re gorgeous. After wandering the tiny streets, cafes and plazas, we finished the night in a Cuban Bar with rum and called it an evening.

Wednesday I was all ready to get home from work quickly, caught my bus, made it to the stop, then got lost on the way home. When I finally called Ernesto to tell him I failed at finding the apartment, I was about a block and a half away. I swear its not me, the roads are all twisty and none are marked with their names!  That evening  we met with a big group at one of the casinos for their wing night. 14 of us ordered 140 wings and they were surprisingly good! I finally had the chance to meet more of the LC, including the LCP and VPICX who had been helping me but most of the members were not too forward. I have two months to get to know them though. 

Last night I left work and walked to Johana´s place which is conveniently close. We took the bus together and went to the grocery with Ernesto to host a dinner for a small group. Soft tacos, salsa and guacamole were on the menu but again, getting home took me a while so a couple of our guests arrived before we got back. Luckily this is AIESEC and everyone is flexible. The dinner was great (I even have leftovers!) and the company was even better. Its has been a great first week and the next couple days should be the perfect finish to a great first week here! 
Christian/Kiwi (LCP), Victor (VPICX), Johana, Mauricio, Ernesto,  Me

View from Ernesto´s apartment at night

View from the balcony at sunrise