A Travellerspoint blog

Panama

Miami-like Panama

Even before we landed, I could see the ships waiting to get through the canal from the air. It was pretty neat. (Just for those who were wondering, I had already slept through a flight and a half and was ready to be awake.) I got to Panama City in the afternoon, and because I didn´t have any baggage to claim, I went straight through to the taxi stand to get a taxi. I hadn´t had a ton of time to figure out what there was to do in Panama and I only had an afternoon, so I kind of just pointed to a spot on the map and asked how much it would be to take me "There." This one taxi driver decided that he spoke English better than the other driver who had originally approached me and so he took me. However, I´m pretty sure that my Spanish was much better than his English as I had to do a lot of the translating from Spanish to English for him. On our way down a divided road, there was tree down due to the high winds and a crew was taking it out. All of the cars, my taxi included, just turned around, crossed the median, went down the wrong way on the other side, and then crossed the median back to the original road. All of this happened without anybody directing them. I was actually quite impressed as that would never happen in the US. People coming the other way wouldn´t have been willing to move over for the wrong way cars. We passed some buses painted in very bright colors and designs. They reminded me of how Fozzie´s car got painted in The Muppet Movie. Apparently these are called "Devil buses," although I don´t know why. We passed through some toll booths and he ended up taking me to Casco Viejo, the old part of town. In order to get there, we had to go through the new part of town. The new part looks very much like Miami. It has the tropical high rises for the rich, the beach-ey feeling, and tons of resorts for the wealthy to go play at. The only real difference was that the day was pretty gray, and a larger percentage of the billboards were in Spanish. When we got there, he went to let me out in a pretty shady-looking area. I asked for a more secure place, maybe by the ocean. He let me out there and I walked around. As I walked around the area, it looked a little less shady. I walked up a walkway by the ocean and took a few pictures. The area I was at wasn´t actually that pretty, but you could see ships lining up. The park area was pretty though. Apparently it is usually a tourist area, but not that day. The ladies selling goods on the walkway looked pretty lonely. Their bags were lovely though. Everything was bright colors and bold designs. The wallets and bags were gorgeous, but I really didn´t need any and wasn´t goingot start souvenir shopping then. One of the guys trying to sell stuff walked up to me and started a conversation. He wanted to practice his English on me, but it was actually quite comical. Just as people from the US try to speak Spanish by adding Os to the end of every word, he was removing them. We had a short conversation in Spanglish and then I moved on. I had things to see! (Although I wasn´t quite sure what they were.) I also ended up talking briefly with some other lady on the street. Whenever people found out I was from DC, they were so exicted because it is "Donde Obama vive!" I passed an Emerald museum, but didn´t go in. Then, it started raining and I decided that it was time to head inside somewhere for lunch. I asked some random guy on hte street where was a good place to go for decent, cheap food. He recommended Casablanca. The place was on one of the plazas in that part of town, so it was a little touristy, what with it´s Red Bull and Lavazza signs. (After I was inside, I noticed the music was a Spanish-English mix, featuring a lot of U2.) However, it was starting to pour, so I went in. I ended up getting a soupy corn and cheese appetizer (cooked, of course) that was very, very good. It was called Mazorca Desgranada. I also got a veggie burger, which wasn´t super impressive, but was edible (once I removed the lettuce and tomato). I know germs jump instantly from one food ot another and that we´re not supposed to eat raw veggies because they could be washed in water that could make us sick, but I didn´t really have much choice. Also, I saw another American drinking the tap water, so I figured that maybe he knew something I didn´t. (Maybe not and he got sick later though.) As I ate, it began thundering and lightninging. I didn´t really see what else I would be able to do in that mess, so I got a taxi back to the airport. Like the first taxi driver, this one didn´t really feel the need to stay in only one lane at a time. However, gassing was a new adventure for me. He pulled up to a gas station, honked, and had the guy put $5 in the car. Notice I didn´t mention turning off the car. As soon as the gas tank was closed, we could take off because the car was still running. I was a little nervous, but if that´s whatthey always do, then I guess it´s got to be relatively safe. I´m not going to start doing that myself, but I did find it interesting. This taxi driver knew no English, so we had a nice conversation in Spanish. He told me about his time working for a beer company as a industrial engineer, how they sent him to Spain to study and he visited Germany and Austria. We talked about the girlfriends he picked up there, his wife, son, and a nephew that was going to be a blackjack dealer. We, of course talked about Michael Jackson. It was a very interesting conversation. As he let me off at the airport, I´m pretty sure that he gave me a blessing involving something like "Be fruitful and multiply," a very Jewish thing to say. The only Panamanian souvenir shop at the airport was closed, so I wasn´t able to get anything, but hopefully it will be open on my way back. I flew to Lima and met with Jen at the airport. We got to our hostel and went to sleep pretty quickly.

Next: Lima

The ocean

The ocean


Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo


A park in Casco Viejo

A park in Casco Viejo


Cars turning around

Cars turning around


The ocean

The ocean

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 1) Page [1]