Coco Solo: How the Frog and the Caiman was Created

Coco Solo audiobook team

Coco Solo audiobook team

Remember ‘The Frog and the Caiman’, the beautifully illustrated audiobook by the children of Coco Solo from earlier this year? Here is the story of how the project came to fruition.

The audio book workshop was led by Lorena Endara and Eduardo Arenas, the idea fitting perfectly with this year’s goal of increasing literacy at Coco Solo. In Lorena’s own words:

“Eduardo noticed that a lot of the kids who don’t know how to read also don’t have someone who will read to them. He also believes that hearing the sounds while seeing the letters is integral to learning how to read. This was a great way to empower the kids into creating their own learning tools. The audio book exemplifies Cambio Creativo’s mission at its best!”

Coco Solo Recording Session

Recording the Frog and the Caiman

“The young participants (8-14 year olds) were so excited to realize that their story would be “published”. The Cambio Creativo team developed the story together, each child adding to the story line one by one. Then Winnie Natero narrated it while another group recorded the sounds effects. Afterwards, several of them made illustrations. Eduardo mixed the audio, and I edited the video.”

Coco Solo illustrators hard at work

Coco Solo illustrators hard at work

“We believe this audiobook is a great resource for the youth of Coco Solo, as well as for the public at large. It is amazing to see the enthusiasm and confidence that comes about creating something so purposeful and that kids everywhere are keen on multimedia pieces, you tube videos, apps, etc. This is a way to take that medium and use it towards educational endeavors. We are all so proud of collaborating to develop these projects!”


Coco Solo Christmas Appeal

Hello everyone! A bit of a different type of post, especially for this festive season!

The Cambio Creativo (Creative Change) team at Coco Solo, a deprived area near to Colón, have asked me to be an Ambassador for them. Amongst other things, they run educational programmes and creative classes, including art and photography, for the children and young people of this area.

Here is some information about this project:

Cambio Creativo home page

I am helping Cambio Creativo raise $4000 for the Coco Solo community by the end of the year, as well as by arranging a collection of toys, books and food for the youngsters.

My husband and I have requested that this year, instead of giving us presents, our relatives donate to this fantastic cause instead. Also, instead of buying each other a load of things we do not need, we are donating the money we would have spent on each other to this extremely worthy cause.

This community really needs your help, so it would be amazing if you could do something similar in your family, or individually. Here is the donations page, which also details how the funding will be used, including a Christmas party, soup kitchen and emergency fund.

Cambio Creativo donations page

Also, if anyone has any toys, books or non-perishable food items they would like to donate and you are near the Clayton area of Panama City, please contact me through the comments section.

Thank you so much in advance! And a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Cambio Creativo, Coco Solo!

P.S. Another excellent way to help this community is through these photographs taken by the young people of Coco Solo and available for purchase here:

Cambio Creativo Art for Sale

Here is a photograph taken, appropriately enough, by a boy named Jesus:


For more information on the background to Coco Solo, please see my previous post on the area, here:

Coco Solo: The Other Side of Paradise

The other side of the Panama Canal

A couple of weekends ago we went on a trip to Colón (Spanish for Columbus) on the Carribbean/ Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. We had heard a lot about this ‘wild west’ style town and were curious to see it for ourselves. What we found was a place with a certain air of faded grandeur, a bit like I imagine New Orleans to be. It really was pretty shabby though, and it made me wonder how two places so close to each other geographically speaking could be poles apart in all other respects.

Moving from anywhere Westernised to Panama City is a pretty easy transition as the shops, roads, most of the schools and cars are all very Americanised. For example I can think of five enormous malls here just off the top of my head – there are probably more! There are certainly large areas of poverty in Panamá City but travel to Colón and these areas are definitely the most noticeable.

We saw several people dressed very smartly for church, as well as more than a few shady characters. I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I rarely take pictures of them. It makes me feel too much the privileged honky on a poverty tour. Not a comfortable thought, but probably one containing an element of truth.

Most of the guidebooks warn against getting out of your car in Colón as you are very likely to be mugged apparently. We certainly felt that there was a palpable air of menace and, as we had our three small children with us, we took this advice and stayed in the car.