We all know the sun is far stronger in the tropics than in The Great White North. You must wear sunscreen – lots of sunscreen. Yesterday, one of us was very careful applying sunscreen. The other was negligent. So it came as a shock when at the end of the day the responsible one had sunburn. We’re blaming the rooftop pool. It sounds like a marvelous idea when the snow drifts are several feet deep, but in the heat of the Panama sun things are not so black and white. Why am I telling you this? To explain why today’s post will be a random series of photographs taken while I wandered around the old city, alone, with no particular objective in mind.
I’m sure there is a story behind this particular section wall in the ruins of the Jesuit church. I’m equally sure I cannot imagine what that story might be.
I admit I’m fascinated by ruins. In part it’s because I grew up in rural Saskatchewan where the oldest buildings were maybe 50 years old. But there’s also something about the process of weathering. It isn’t uniform. Most of these buildings began with perfectly smooth surfaces, and over time some parts degrade faster than others, exposing the weakness and strength in the original construction. And it isn’t always obvious how things will turn out. In this picture, some, but not all, the bricks are crumbling like soft sandstone, while the mortar has remained true.
The next picture shows a niche in the cathedral, probably originally housing a statue, but empty now. It isn’t clear if the coloured stones were a visible part of the original design, part of the structure originally covered with plaster, or a recent addition.
At the end of the day, I was left with a sense of contrast and conflict. The never ending war between humans intent on building, taming, (some might say destroying) and nature intent on reclaiming. Clearly humans have the more powerful tools in the short term, but I am constantly amazed at what nature can achieve with steady persistence. You see signs of this everywhere in Panama, but I’ll illustrate with this picture showing a mature palm tree growing inside the ruins and a young tree literally growing on the wall of the cathedral.
The contrast between humans and nature is everywhere, but it’s equally apparent there is conflict between humans – between the old and the new. I’ll dig deeper into this in another post (the implications aren’t obvious), but for today I’ll simply show this picture of a newly renovated (gentrified?) building adjoined to one that is, shall we say, in need of repair.
And finally, since this is a random walk, here is where we had lunch, just a block from our hotel.
Postscript: Now that I’m (mostly) retired, I have more time. With more time comes the opportunity to rethink things. Over time, this blog seems to have evolved into pictures, sparsely connected with uninspired text. I’m toying with adding more detail in the descriptions. More colour. I know I’m doing this for me, but an audience helps. So if you like more context, please do let me know. (Silence will be interpreted as “I only look at the pictures, so I didn’t even read the question, especially as it was tacked on at the very end of the post that already had too many words.”)