My Adventure Story
Forgive my spelling I'm tired...
Started the day by coming into PTY and being excited by all the novelties. This is Panama. We got through immigration and customs with relative ease. Next find the shuttle to Riande Hotel (the one Daddypoops booked for us)...we wait, and wait. A nice little man comes to us and offers a taxi, we tell him we are waiting for the shuttle for the hotel. Oh! he exclaims and quickly starts dialing numbers on his phone "if you don't call them they don't come" he explained "welcome to Panama."
Shuttle comes within 7 minutes, takes us 5 minutes to the hotel and we get to the lobby. "what do you mean it's not paid for? my dad said he paid for it already." The dumb mexican looking concierge looks at us like we've got flies flying around our heads. He insisted it wasn't paid for, nothing he can do. We called my dad, Dad calls hotel, everything fixed.
We get to our room. WOOOOOOWW! it's nice. The hotel seems to be renovating, so our room was nice and fresh and super clean. We slept and completely missed our free breakfast, but woke up excited to start the day at 11am. Skyped with the parentals, got ready, then went to wait for driver Maximo.
He was suprisingly on time. Short little man with a big belly but nice and friendly...not one word of English. He took us to our hostel, where we were greeted by Omar who also gave us a quick tour and showed us where we could leave our things. A few minutes later we were on our way to the Panama Canal.
Talk about an impressive piece of human engineering. The size of the ships passing through, the tight fit, the way they raise and lower the ships with water, and the organization skills of the operators were all very amazing pieces of a complex puzzle. We also found out that they are widenning it and hope to finish by 2014. It was an awesome experience.
Next off to Amador where we shopped in a quaint little flea/artisan shop. Laurie and I bought our first bracelet "Panama". Laurie fell in love with some Panama hats but we decided they would be hard to carry at this point, but we will try to buy some before we get to Costa Rica. We met a Haitian gentleman who tried to sell us some of his chochkies. They had some nice things but I kind of felt like I was in Mexico. We moved on to see La Colone, or something like that, (some place at the top of a hill with some nice views) but we were unable to make it to the top because the gate was closed, so we went instead to a marina. Nice little shopping plaza, but all we did was eat ice cream, take some pictures and move on to Casco Antigua (old town). This is where the presidential palace is. Cute little section of town filled with old buildings, colonial styled, both restored and not, and some left as ruins in the middle of the city. Maximo dropped us off so we could take a quick walk. The minute I saw the archway overgrown with vines, I could picture it blooming and I thought of my mama. There were some more vendors and a little old man playing his guitar (so cute, wish I could take him home). We walked some more, saw this asian couple taking some wedding photos, and other tourists admiring the view of the ocean and the cityscape beyond the pier wall. All in all a very refreshing and relaxing walk.
After that we drove through Panama city rush hour traffic (OY!) to Panama Viejo. Maximo asked us to go down and take some photos if we wished but by that time we were so pooped we took one picture got back in the car and said "hostel?" always smiling of course.
He drove us back and I got my first good look at the first hostel I have ever seen in my life. Boy do I want to say how relieved I was to find that it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. The reviews I read of some hostels made them all seem like low budget, unkept, roach infested, lice ridden, smelly wholes of destitution. I was pleasantly suprised to find that it was clean and cute and not at all smelly. Although there is only one bathroom for all the dorms in our building, we are not having any trouble getting in and handling our business. We met a Canadian girl (Josie) who backpacked Central America for 5 months BY HERSELF last year. Impressive considering she's in her early twenties. Looks like she's fresh out of college. We also met a Colombian boy (who seems to forget his manners when others are trying to sleep, he has no indoor voice), an Aussi, an Isreali (Ben, he's cute) and une Francaise. So far everyone is very nice easy to talk to and all welcoming. Omar our "concierge" has been a font of information for anything there is to do here or in the surrounding areas.
Laurie and I went and checked out what the scoop was on hostels outside of Panama City and beyond the borders. It is really cool that they have areas dedicated to information on other hostels and tour providers. We found some potential future residences :)...