I intend to provide a full report on my Panamanian antics. Daily life is getting in the way, so it’s taking a little longer than planned. And I wanted to have pictures in it, but the image loader thingie doesn’t apprear to be working so you’ll have to use your visual imagination until if and when I can get it working. But I do have an outline (yes really), and will tell the story in 5 parts. Chapters, if you will. So here is the first…
Getting to Panama was a journey unto itself. I had two layovers, one in Newark and one in Houston. Unexpectedly, I had a bit of culture shock. I felt like a complete foreigner – the people looked funny to me, their apparent Americanism unexpected and noticable to me. It was very weird. However there is a meditation room in the Newark airport, and that made me smile, stop and take a picture because that’s awesome:
Finally, after flying through the night and then another one as time zones passed by, I arrived in Panama. My dad, stepmom and sister were there to greet me. I don’t have the words to describe how good for my heart it was, to see them again. It had been almost a year and except my constant references to my life that they aren’t a part of daily, it was as if we had never been apart.
That first night and the second, we stayed in Panama City. It is a crazy place, full of crazily-painted school buses declared unsuitable for use in the use that have been shipped down there and are used as city buses, a maze-like street system and construction everywhere you look. You can also pretty much always see the ocean, too, which was awesome.
The first morning, I woke up and took a peek out the window to see how Panama City was waking up, and there was a marathon going on! It was really cool, actually, because the end of it was right next to the hotel. Then I went to eat breakfast.
Since we were in Panama, the country most people only know for the canal, we went to go see the thing that made the country famous. The directions seemed pretty simple – take the main street through the city, and then turn right at the Shell gas station and follow the signs. There was just a small street to turn right onto at the Shell station and then an overpass, so we continued forward to find the big street to take us to the country’s most well-known landmark. And got lost in the barrio – the ghetto of Panama City. On the maps we were consulting, however, we appeared to be in one of the city’s most beautiful and quaint old neighborhoods. We were not.
Eventually we managed to get ejected onto the proper highway and made it to the locks of the canal, where ships are transferred from sea-level on the Pacific side to the mostly man-made lake that they cross before being transferred down to sea-level at the Atlantic Ocean. It’s pretty cool but not heart-accelerating. The pictures don’t really do it justice. But it was neat, I promise.
We had a delicious lunch (SEAFOOD! I MISS SEAFOOD! I ATE SEAFOOD EVERY DAY I WAS THERE! YUM!) and visited some other areas, trying our luck given the rediculous map situation. As in, there are no accurate maps of Panama. Even the travel books say so.
The next day we headed off to our next destination, Coronado. And for that, you will have to read chapter 2…