Monday, January 14, 2013

A visit to Panama, January 2013

Sunday, 6 January 2013
I was fortunate to attend the 6th Global Plants Initiative meeting in Panama City this month. I was up and out for an early flight; connecting through Houston (UA 334: DCA to IAH) with a comfortable layover time (in fact, enough to put on my Houston Jet Shoes, 2013). An uneventful flight (with two upgrades), it seemed before you knew it, I was at PTY (UA 1034: IAH to PTY) A quick dash through immigration and customs and talked with some colleagues arriving on other flights before heading out to the pick up area where a car was waiting. We quickly zipped through the light traffic to the Intercontinental Miramar on Panama Bay. After meeting some colleagues in the lobby bar for a glass of wine it was off to bed.

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Monday, 7 January 2013
Today was a mostly free day. I've already recounted my big adventure, a visit to Casco Viejo in an earlier post, so I won't recap that. I will mention, however, that I did purchase a Panama Hat and that I saw an El Nino with the bluest of eyes.

In the evening, we had a wonderful opening reception at the Bayside Pool of the Miramar for the conference attendees. An excellent ceviche bar and DYI tortillas were the highlights.

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013
A full day of meetings discussing the the direction and goals of various biodiversity projects, including the Global Plants Initiative and the World Flora Project. I'll cover those in a post on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog shortly.

In the evening, we had a group dinner back in the Casco Viejo and an opportunity to explore a bit more. I also received a Dodo Mola as a gift!

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Another mostly full meeting day. Caught up with various colleagues from around the world (and, in a typical situation that I always find ironic, people who work just down the hall from me!).

That evening, we had a reception at the Smithsonian's Punta Culebra Center out near the Pacific mouth of the Panama Canal. Culebra is an educational facility that welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors - mostly children - each year to learn about the environment and marine science. This evening, we had a wonderful reception (more ceviche!), live music with Panamanian dancers, and later, during the most dangerous part of the whole trip, a DJ (can you say "Gangman Style") dance party with botanists, informaticians, and librarians all, mostly, clearly out of their element.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013
Today, we had a field trip to the Gatun Locks which I covered in a previous post (A Visit to Gatun Locks, Panama). I will note the sighting of a gaudy sphinx moth.

After returning to the hotel and catching up on some work, I met the Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute librarian for dinner and work and personal catch up. We mingled after with a number of the conference attendees and then I called it a night to get ready for an early morning departure.

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Friday, 11 January 2013
Got up early and finished packing; made coffee and then headed downstairs. Checked and and chit chatted with a few people. Checked in with the bus coordinator who was chatty and when she found out I was from DC and worked at the Smithsonian was so excited and hopes to visit someday because loved the movie. Didn't want to tell her things don't come alive!

Got on the bus and waited while they rounded up the stragglers. Bus pulls away and we get to the aeropuerto in about 20 minutes (using the express toll roads). Nice an uneventful flight to Houston (UA 1031: PTY to IAH); easy pass through immigration and customs and back on another United flight, DCA (UA 331: IAH to DCA) through clear(ish) skies and home a bit early.

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