The Art of Words by Sergio Gonzalez 2015 Latino Museum Studies Program Fellow

This summer I was honored to host Sergio as my summer fellow. He was exceptionally organized, curious, and thoughtful. I am excited to witness his future accomplishments. Below is a small sample of what he worked on and worked through during his weeks as a Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program Fellow at the Anacostia Community Museum. – Ariana Curtis, curator

By Sergio M. González/ Summer 2015

This summer, my charge as a fellow with the Smithsonian’s Latino Museum Studies Program (LMSP) has been to assist in increasing the representation, documentation, and research of Latino art, culture, and history throughout the museum’s many units. My field placement at the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) has offered me the opportunity to work in a museum in the process of redefining its own mission, as it expands its purview to include the representation of Latino communities. Working with Ariana Curtis, ACM’s first curator of Latino Studies, I’ve spent most of my practicum experience surveying the museum’s permanent collections in search of ties to Latin America and Latino communities specifically, but immigration more broadly.

Through my survey of the ACM’s collections, I came across a Cuban refugee boat, an artifact whose publicly accessible provenance is unclear.

Cuban refugee boat as displayed in the exhibition Black Mosaic: Race, Color and Ethnicity Among Black Immigrants in Washington, DC.  Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Community Museum Collections

Cuban refugee boat as displayed in the exhibition Black Mosaic: Race, Color and Ethnicity Among Black Immigrants in Washington, DC

I decided to commit some of my practicum experience to researching the object and rewriting the description, as it seemed to meet the criteria of being “current, compelling, and connected,” three C’s that help guide ACM’s mission.

I began researching and writing a new description to accompany the image of the boat on the Smithsonian’s website. I asked myself how, as a historian, I might convey the significance of this object and place it within a broader historical context. How, as a storyteller, might I engage my audience with vivid descriptions of the hazards that Cuban migrants confront on their ninety-mile voyage between Cuban and Floridian shores? My initial instincts for writing the description relied upon the writing of museum educator Larry Borowsky, who asks curators to pose three questions as they craft a narrative arc in their writing for museumgoers:

  • Does it create an air of suspense and/or tension?
  • Does it trace a journey through time and/or distance?
  • Does it encourage the reader to suspend disbelief?

In my first attempts to write what I considered to be an “effective” description, I hewed closely to my disciplinary training as a historian, and soon found myself writing more of a narrative than a collections description. My first draft of the collection description read more like an exhibition label than an object description that might accompany the boat in a collections search. The need for brevity within a collection description was a new concept for me – my dissertation-writing style would need to be scaled back. I wanted to include multiple political perspectives since this object interacts with contemporary political events. However, that muddied the delivery of pertinent historical facts that would place the boat in research context.

After meeting with Ariana and discussing the differences between a collections description and a museum tag, I decided to split the labor in half. First, I rewrote the description, focusing on conveying a clearer curatorial voice and sticking closer to the most important facts:

Some Cuban emigrants construct vessels like the one seen here from miscellaneous materials including discarded wood, sets of tires, and even converted taxis and trucks to travel the 90 miles from Cuba to the U.S. Known as balseros, rafters, or boatpeople, the largest single group of 125,000 Cubans departed from the port of Mariel to the U.S. in 1980. Between 1959 (Cuban Revolution) and the Mariel boatlift of 1980, 500,000 Cuban immigrants entered the United States.

Cubans have unique immigration laws, including the Cuban Adjustment Act. The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act granted permanent resident status to any Cuban that had immigrated to the U.S. after January 1, 1959 and had lived in the U.S. for at least two years (reduced to one year in 1976). The 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act, popularly known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, allows Cuban migrants that reach U.S. land to stay, whereas those apprehended at sea are returned to Cuba.

According to their public website, the Miami-based non-profit organization Hermanos al Rescate (Brothers to the Rescue), founded in 1991, has rescued more than 4,200 Cuban refugees attempting to enter U.S.

Next, I turned to writing a museum tag under one hundred words that might accompany the Cuban refugee boat in an exhibit. I’ve imagined the boat as a part of a larger exhibit detailing Cuban immigration experiences to the United States in the twentieth century. As part of a full exhibit, much of the corroborating information not necessarily tied to this specific boat in the collections description above will be include in museum tags that would accompany other artifacts or images.

Between 1959 and 1994, more than 70,000 Cuban citizens fled their country for the United States in balsas (rafts) like the one seen here. Facing the 90 miles of treacherous water that separate Cuba and the Florida coast, balseros (rafters) constructed makeshift boats and homemade rafts out a number of materials, including scrap pieces of wood, discarded tires, and even converted taxis.

Sergio M. González is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a 2015 Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program Fellow.

 

Sergio Gonzalez poses at the Anacostia Community Museum at the completion of his fellowship

Sergio Gonzalez poses at the Anacostia Community Museum at the completion of his fellowship

June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month!

 

Caribbean Americans, like all immigrant groups, have made profound contributions to the U.S. The diversity of Caribbean people is seen through language, religion, race, and traditions. The Anacostia Community Museum collection includes works done in and about the Caribbean as well as work from and about notable Caribbean Americans.

It is this same diversity that has drawn many artists and scholars from the U.S. To the Caribbean. Our collection includes prints from my fellow Duke alum, U.S. born  Titus Brooks Heagins, who documented people of color throughout the world including the Carolinas, Belize, and with extensive work in the Caribbean nations of Cuba and Haiti.

This drawing, “Untitled,” is from famous Harlem Renaissance artist Ernest Crichlow (1914-2005).

Untitled by Ernest Crichlow charcoal, cardboard

Untitled by Ernest Crichlow
drawing: charcoal, cardboard , Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Collection

 

Although often referred to as an African-American artist, Crichlow is a Brooklyn born child of Bajan immigrants. That is not to say ‘African-American’ is an inaccurate identifier for him or his work; it is simply incomplete.

A strength of the Anacostia Community Museum’s collection is making international and national connections to everyday life in the D.C. area community. A perhaps lesser known but no less remarkable person in the ACM collection is Jamaican born Percival Bryant.

Bryant left Jamaica at the age of 18. He went first to New York, then, after 5 years, moved to Washington, D.C. where he settled east of the River in NE DC. He lived in DC until his death on January 27, 1996, just two days after his 90th birthday. Finding Aid for Pervical Bryant Collection

Percival Bryant poses with golf clubs in 1948. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant poses with golf clubs in 1948. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant holding a baby, circa 1951. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant holding a baby, circa 1951. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

 

One of his first jobs in D.C. was as a driver for Attorney General Homer Cummings. Of the many jewels in this collection, his autograph book from his time as a taxi-cab driver holds over 160,000 signatures from his passengers!

Percival Bryan Autograph Albums, 1941 - 1993, Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant Autograph Albums, 1941 – 1993, Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

 

Happy Caribbean-American Heritage Month from the Anacostia Community Museum!

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About Caribbean-American Heritage Month from: http://www.caribbeanamericanmonth.org

In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution similarly passed the Senate, culminating a two-year, bipartisan and bicameral effort.

Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month…

The social construction of race, the “street” level reality of race

Dr. Nancy López, Co-founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of “Race” & Social Justice, housed in the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, traveled to D.C. as a guest speaker for the Smithsonian.

Dr. Nancy Lopez speaking at the Smithsonian on February 19, 2015

Dr. Nancy Lopez speaking at the Smithsonian on February 19, 2015

 

Her talk, “What’s your “Street Race-Gender”? draws attention to the ways in which we can self-identify on forms versus how we are treated on the street based on how we look/how others see us and ties the racial and ethnic data compiled from the census data to its uses in Civil Rights legislation.

Dr. López proposes the concept of  “street race-gender” , meaning your race or gender as viewed on the street, as a practical and innovative use-inspired measure that can be used to monitor and enforce Civil Rights legislation and advance equity-based policy research and practice that has to potential to capture the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of urban communities in the U.S. and beyond.

I invite all that are thinking about interpretations of race, ethnicity, racial performance, self-representation, identity, and group identification to watch her powerful presentation below.

 

How do we measure the social value of our work?

From April 26-29 I, and thousands of museum workers, attended the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme of this year’s conference was: The social value of museums: Inspiring change.

I attended many insightful sessions about immigration, telling American Stories, museums as conveners, museums as sites of activism, and measuring/evaluating social change. Of the many things I left pondering, one of the most significant is: How do or how should I measure the social value and impact of MY work activity?

In a session addressing museum evaluation, Deborah Schwartz of the Brooklyn Historical Society invited us all to

Engage. LISTEN. Exchange

I have been sitting with this advice for almost two weeks now, still wondering how one measures this.   In order to think about the social value and impact of our work activity, we must look at HOW we work and not just WHAT work we do. A better question than measure might be: how to do we know if we are being successful in engaging, listening and exchanging?

I don’t have a complete answer yet, but:

1. People now tell me about any Panamanian in their life. I find this amusing and wonderful.  I love that those around me feel comfortable talking to me.  These declarations of Panamanian association usually lead to questions about food, music, immigration, language. Really though, the conversations can lead through any number of interactive activities. Engagement, listening, and exchange.

2. I have noted that about 10 people have emailed me about the premier of the Panama Canal Stories/ Historias del Canal at the Inter-American Development Bank tonight. Some asked if I am going. Some emailed just as an FYI in case I hadn’t seen it. Some knew I would be there and asked if I wanted to meet.   Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, D.C.  may be a small show, but the community participation and exchange of ideas have created a network well beyond the exhibition’s square footage.

Forwarding an email message may seem like a trivial act not worthy of note or measure. I disagree.

We all know how easy it is to delete emails, read or unread.  The fact that people not only thought of me when they heard of this film and read their email message, but further, took the extra minute to send me the information knowing I would be receptive gives me hope.   I am helping create an engaged network concerned not only with her/his own activity but also the knowledge and activity of US.  While I am not yet certain how to measure  or report my impact or activity, the social value of my work is exponentially increased by engaging with, listening to, and exchanging with the communities I serve, in big and small ways.  

Community and Belonging: Bridging the Americas

 

Community



It is a word we use often. It is in our museum name: Anacostia Community Museum.  So how does this new exhibit tie into what we do here in Anacostia? Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, D.C.  presents stories from diverse DC area residents — many of Panamanian descent, some from the Panama Canal Zone —  and asks you directly to think about your community and where you feel you belong.

Despite its small population, Panama had the largest percentage and number of Central American immigrants to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, the Panamanian community in the Washington, D.C., area began to flourish. International work, federal employment, and the plethora of cultural activities are major reasons why Panamanians continue to make the D.C. metro “home.”  Image courtesy of Winston “Alex” Taylor

Despite its small population, Panama had the largest percentage and number of Central American immigrants to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, the Panamanian community in the Washington, D.C., area began to flourish. International work, federal employment, and the plethora of cultural activities are major reasons why Panamanians continue to make the D.C. metro “home.” Image courtesy of Winston “Alex” Taylor

 

One of the truest lines in the exhibition, in my humble curatorial opinion, is: “emotional connection is much more important than a legal one. Anyone who feels they belong probably does.”  The underlying themes of this show are human diversity and connections.    The spaces in which we reside are multiple… and connected!

The show holds a lot of information.  When you walk through the exhibition, you are hearing DC stories. But they are also national stories and international stories.  It is up indefinitely and I very much look forward to elaborating on themes, events, and stories through our public programming.

So what do we want people to take away from this exhibition?

  • Acknowledgement that people carry multiple identities always
  • Appreciation for diversity in Panama, the U.S. , and the DC metro area.
  • Understanding of important events that have created a profound relationship between the nations of Panama and the U.S.
  • Awareness of the Panama Canal Zone and the complexity of place based “Zonian” identity
  • Recognition that the Panamanian population in the D.C. area has a strong history and presence
  • Thoughtfulness about their own communities and reflective responses to the exhibition’s reflection questions on our public response wall.

 

  • One proud respondent on our community wall!

    One proud respondent on our community wall!

Come work with ACM! Internships available

Spring 2015 Internships with the Anacostia Community Museum!

Below are the internship opportunities for the Research and Collections Departments. All internships are unpaid. Contact information for each supervisor is included in the description. Start and end dates are flexible. We are looking forward to working with you!

Transportation: Free round trip shuttle service to the Anacostia Community Museum can be provided from the National Mall or L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station Monday-Friday for all interns.

Museum Mission: The mission of the Anacostia Community Museum is to enhance understanding of contemporary urban experiences and strengthen community bonds by conserving the past, documenting the present, and serving as a catalyst for shaping the future. More information on the Museum: http://anacostia.si.edu

INTERNSHIP DESCRIPTIONS

Curatorial intern (Panama project)
Intern will work directly with Dr. Ariana Curtis, curator of Latino Studies and gain valuable, on-site experience in curatorial processes and exhibition preparation. Intern will assist in planning public programming and creating tangible resources for upcoming exhibition Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, D.C. Familiarity with Panama preferred but not required. Research experience required. One position available. Contact: CurtisA@si.edu

Curatorial intern(s) Museum interactives (Latino Studies general)
Intern will work with the curatorial staff under the direction of Dr. Ariana Curtis, curator of Latino studies and gain valuable on site experience in curatorial processes and exhibition preparation. Intern will visit various museums in the immediate DC area to research and document multilingual and interactive exhibition elements in various exhibitions. This position is unpaid. Multiple positions available. Contact: CurtisA@si.edu

Research intern(s) Census and Latino Community Change
Interns will work directly with Dr. Ariana Curtis, curator of Latino Studies and gain valuable research experience on identification, representation, and government reporting. Intern(s) will assist in research with US census data, American Community Survey data, changing racial/ethnic categories over time, and the identification of Latino populations. Project entails reviewing old census forms and data, reading/synthesizing secondary source data, and following current debates about Latino racialization and racial identification. Previous experience using census data not required. Strong writing skills preferred. Multiple positions available. Contact: CurtisA@si.edu

Research intern(s) Neighborhood Change
Opportunity to work at the Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Community Museum doing research on two topics related to neighborhood change in Washington, D.C.:
*How the building of the Suitland Parkway during the Second World II impacted the surrounding SE community
*The transformation of the African-American St. Philip’s Hill community in NW Washington, D.C. into the affluent         mostly white University Terrace community in the 1950s and 60s
Research will include working with materials at the National Archives, the Washingtoniana Collection of the D.C. Public Library, and the Archives of the Anacostia Community Museum among others. Research will also include participating in the oral interviewing of individuals who might have information on the areas being studied and the transcription of these interviews. The research will be undertaken under the supervision of Mrs. Alcione M. Amos, Museum Curator. For questions please contact Alcione Amos amosal@si.edu

Archival Collections Processing intern(s)
Interns will gain focused experience in arrangement, description, and preservation of archival collections and knowledge of descriptive standards including DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard). The internship entails conducting research on collection subject and context, creating EAD formatted finding aids using Archivists Toolkit, and sharing information about processed collections through social media. Interns work under the guidance of the museum’s archivist. Strong writing and organizational skills preferred. This position is unpaid. Interested students may contact Jennifer Morris: morrisj@si.edu.

Cataloging intern(s)
Interns will assist with cataloging item level and series descriptions in the Horizon database system for the Smithsonian’s online database (www.siris.si.edu). The intern will conduct research on the archival items, create MARC-based records, and disseminate information about newly cataloged materials through social media. Interns work under the guidance of the museum’s archivist. The ideal candidate has working knowledge of MARC and DACS. Attention to detail and strong organizational skills preferred. Intern will gain insight into the application of MARC in an archival setting. This position is unpaid. For questions contact Jennifer Morris: morrisj@si.edu.

Transcription intern(s)
Interns will help make collections more accessible by digitizing documents for transcribing by the general public for the Smithsonian Transcription Center (https://transcription.si.edu/). Interns will also apply embedded metadata to digitized assets, write summaries utilizing collections, and review transcribed text. Attention to detail and strong writing skills preferred. This position is unpaid. For questions contact Jennifer Morris: morrisj@si.edu.

Object Collections Care and Cataloguing Support
In support of ACM’s goal of providing the highest quality housing for, description of and access to its permanent collection, this Internship will include general collections management projects including:
– rehousing of object collections prioritizing access, physical support and conservation-grade materials
– promoting intellectual access to collections through digitization as a component of the cycle of care
– facilitating discovery and access through lexicon and authority based cataloguing
– facilitating discovery and access by connecting collections for distribution to online databases
Under the direction of the Collections, we are currently organizing our permanent collection with the goal of delivering a complete catalogue with digital surrogates to collections.si.edu by the end of 2014. Projects within the Collections department would seek to expand the reach of these digital collections through description, research and topical cataloguing of museum collections.
Interns can also expect to receive training in the handling and care of collections in support of projects advancing the preservation priorities of the museum. Educational goals for this internship will focus on best practices in handling and care as well as innovative methods for online description and access. Internships will entail handling, processing and rehousing of coherent collections providing opportunities for demonstrating and documenting mastery. The ACM will provide guidance and access to necessary readings, resources and institutional expertise in support of these deliverables. This internship will provide an opportunity to become familiar with collections management processes and standards within a community museum. Contact: Josh Gorman at GormanJ@si.edu

Curator’s Choice: Photos that make you feel

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams

A woman in a pollera and tembleques at a Latin American Festival in Washington, D.C. Anacostia Community Museum Black Mosaic archives. Photographer: Harold Dorwin

A woman in a pollera and tembleques at a Latin American Festival in Washington, D.C. Black Mosaic Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Photographer: Harold Dorwin

This woman de la tercera edad, as we would say in Spanish, is a quiet representation of pride.  In her pollera, the national costume of Panama, with her gold hair pieces and tembleques, the white hair ornaments, she is intently working on another hair adornment, seemingly unperturbed by the men around her in t-shirts. She isn’t in Panama. She is in Washington, D.C.

The first time I saw this picture in the Anacostia Community Museum Archives, I felt.

As the opening quotation alludes, every viewer brings something unique to the photographs they view. Viewing pictures is not passive; it is an active interpretation. Sometimes we can articulate why we like an image or why we do not. But other times, images just touch you.  They simply make you feel.

This picture touched me for various personal reasons, related to the quotation by Ansel Adams.  Of the thousands of pictures in the Black Mosaic archives, this image would of course catch my attention.

I look at this, as you do, through multiple lenses. For example:  as a woman, the daughter of a Panamanian father, someone that was very close to my grandmothers, someone who works directly in visual representation, as an anthropologist concerned with the politics of the quotidian, as a scholar that studies international representation in U.S. spaces, as someone that loves polleras… the reasons I am drawn to this image are countless.

Often times, nation and pride are visually represented by flags and/or children.  This picture has neither. And yet, to me, perhaps because of what I’ve seen, read, the music I’ve heard and the people I’ve loved, this is a strong and sweet representation of love, nation, and pride.

*This image will be included in the upcoming exhibition: Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama < — > Washington, D.C. , opening at the Anacostia Community Museum in April 2015.

On being Black in the U.S.: Community Stories from the ACM Archives

ACMA_S000083

A Washington, D.C. police officer and members of the Latino community in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C.,  Black Mosaic Collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution 

In 1991 Washington, D.C. experienced its own civil unrest – the Mt. Pleasant riots.  In the wake of those riots, the Anacostia Community Museum, at that time the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum,  was undertaking a research project about Black Immigrants in the DC metro area.   The exhibition that came from that researchBlack Mosaic: community, race, and ethnicity among Black immigrants in Washington, D. C.  opened at the Museum in August of 1994.

One of the largest treasures of the Black Mosaic collection is the trove of oral histories, collected by community members. The range of stories talks about perception of the U.S. before coming, arrival to the U.S., arrival to Washington, D.C, building community, barriers to community acceptance, struggle, triumph, pain and joy.

During the research phase, the DC metro area was still very much healing from racial tensions, from distrust between the community and the police.  The oral histories reference this tense time in D.C. history, but also offer reflections of community members on the issues of race, Americanness, Blackness, community and identity.

In light of recent national events, I share these three small oral history excerpts from the Black Mosaic archives for your reflection and comment.

 I remember when Mr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. I basically lost almost all of my black friends—they suddenly decided that I was the enemy because I had white skin. I felt terrible about that, especially being a member of another minority group [Latino] that was always discriminated against. However, I understand that people are embittered by their experiences.

I remember being in the playground of St. Joseph Catholic School and a child came up to me and said, ‘I feel sorry for you.’ I never forgot that because for a long time I couldn’t understand why it was she felt sorry for me. And then I recognized that it was because of the fact that I was black and it really hit me. I gained an understanding of what that means, in the context of this country, that I just never had, even though I was very well aware in the Dominican Republic and In St. Thomas that I was black … I was never made to feel when I was growing up in the Dominican Republic that I was less than a human being because of my color.

To be true to yourself means you have to follow your pain. And so that when you come on pain, you have to re-explore it and get to root of where that pain is coming from. And so that it meant for me following my pain, or society pains around my blackness, because there IS pain around being black! Here! And I followed that pain, in other words, I kept dealing and dealing with that. And there is pain about being Latina, and there is certainly pain about being a woman! And so I followed that pain and that has made it possible for me to be true to myself. I’m not going to be anything than what I am. I am going to enrich what I am! I’m going to enhance what I am! But I’m never going to be anything but a woman, I’m never going to be anything but black, and I am Latina. And so being true to that identity, and going through the process that it takes to polish that identity, is the greatest thing that I’ve learned.

Urban Change: Panama 4 years later

I am just back from over a week in the beautiful nation of Panama.    It has been four years since I was last there and the changes are astounding (more on that in other posts).

I went with our photographer, Susana Raab, to do photo documentation for the upcoming exhibit Bridging the Americas. The framework for Bridging the Americas is the relationship between the nations of Panama and the United States. The Panama Canal and the former U.S. territory, The Panama Canal Zone, are literally and figuratively at the center of this bond.

One of the spaces I was most excited for Susana to document was the ascent at Cerro Ancon, or Ancon Hill.

Ancon Hill is the highest point in Panama City. It is home to lush vegetation and wildlife, provides spectacular views of Panama City and the Panama Canal, and has historical significance.

When the U.S. controlled the Panama Canal Zone (1903-1979/1999) multiple levels of U.S. authority existed in and around Cerro Ancon – political, medical, and military. The area held the residence of the U.S. Canal Zone Governor, the U.S.  Gorgas Hospital, and also parts of U.S. Southern Command.

On my first journey to the summit in 2010, I was greeted in route by fellow hikers and the reclamation of public space via nationalist art. I loved them! It felt like the perfect visual goodbye gift on the final day of my research year in Panama.

Here are just a few of the many pictures I took on my ascent in 2010.

cerroancon2 in August 2010

painted bench in Cerro Ancon, August 2010
Photo by Ariana A. Curtis

cerroancon3

painted bench in Cerro Ancon, August 2010
Photo by Ariana A. Curtis
the style looks like Rolo de Sedas

cerroancon1

painted cement block in Cerro Ancon, August 2010
Photo by Ariana A. Curtis

cerroancon4

painted bench in Cerro Ancon, August 2010
“Centro del Mundo, Corazon del Universo”
translation: Center of the World, Heart of the Universe
Photo by Ariana A. Curtis

 

Four short/long years later, the hike up Cerro Ancon was much less colorful.  Gone are the benches formerly painted with Panamanian symbols – ladies in polleras, the Bridge of the Americas, the Panamanian skyline, the gold frog. 

Now the benches are a standard dismal gray. There are small remnants of color and nationalist symbols near the top of the hill like this one:

 

ranadoradasusanaaug2014

Rana Dorada (Golden Frog)
Cerro Ancon August 2014
Photo by Susana Raab

 

And though gray the benches,  even on a cloud day in Panama City,  the views of the city, the bridges, and the Panama Canal are still spectacular and well worth the hike!

cerroancon1

Panama City, Panama from Cerro Ancon
August 2014
Photo by Susana Raab

Bridge of the Americas from Cerro Ancon August 2014 Photo by Susana Raab

Bridge of the Americas from Cerro Ancon
August 2014
Photo by Susana Raab

cerroancon2

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