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?

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