Panama City – Day 1

2:30 is when I woke up this morning. And although many of you are probably thinking: “You are always up at that time. #TellMeSomethingIDontKnow”. WELL, today there actually was a reason for being awake at this ungodly hour.

Hoy vamos a Panamá!!

We left the apartment by 3:30 am and made it to Houston by 6:30 am (someday there will be more direct flights from Austin and/or flights from Austin which don’t cost an arm & a leg).

We parked at the Houston airport and took a shuttle to the terminal. The driver was Hispanic and started speaking Spanish to another Spanish speaking dude. Based on what he was saying, I have to assume he had no idea that I speak Spanish. Foreshadowing for the upcoming week? Creo que si.

OMG we’re going to Panama; it’s so exciting! Let’s take a picture to prove it!

Like always, there was trouble fitting everyone’s suitcases into the overhead compartments. In order to avoid checked bag fees, many of my fellow plane riders opted to not check any bags & just bring everything on board. Apparently luggage stowed below the airplane costs the airline $50, but luggage in the overhead compartment costs nothing! (I’d like to see the cost analysis for this decision). Frankly, I think Southwest is the smartest of all the airlines. Even if airlines need to compensate for extra cost caused by luggage weight, I think it’d be much smarter to just build the fee into the ticket price and have “free checked bags”. It isn’t rocket science, but it is psychology. BOOM.

At one point, one stewardess stepped in and began helping to stow the luggage. Her strategy was to go through all the compartments, find the smaller bags, and tell the bag owners to place it below their seat. She tried this strategy on one man and he said, “No, I won’t. That is my one bag.” The stewardess glared at the man & mumbled angrily under her breath. I thought a few things. #1. That man is ballsy. #2. “Hey, the dude is right. He packed light and/or checked his bag. Just because someone else brought 2 giant bags/neck pillow/diaper bag/purse/jacket/backpack/baby on the plane doesn’t mean this man should be crammed into his seat.”

On this topic, I would also like to note that I fit everything I needed for the week into 1 regular sized backpack & one small cross-body purse. I hope you are impressed because I sure as hell was.

Anyway, we arrived in Panamá! Here was our first view of the country!

The flight was fairly painless, as was customs. We had arranged transportation ahead of time, so when we walked out of the customs area, there was a guy there holding a sign with our names. Perfecto!

My first Panama thoughts? 1. HEELEELLLLLLOOOO humidity! 2. I wasn’t expecting to see such an array of skin tones. 3. There are a shit ton of power lines. Proof:

The taxi driver drove to us our bed & breakfast, Mediterranean Dreams (MD). As we were driving, the taxi driver’s phone rang. I heard him say “No no, they aren’t old. They’re young!”  Ummm. No entiendo. Oh well…no me preocupo.

We arrived at MD and Alejandro was exactly how he was described in Trip Advisor…except even nicer and more hospitable, if that is possible. He’s also alot younger than I was expecting. (I see an age trend…) Alejandro showed us to our room. Our room is the “uva” room. Meaning, it is grape/purple everything! Perfecto.

After a quick nap, Alejandro called us a cab & we were off to explore Casco Viejo, the historic district of Panama City. Apparently it is fine and safe during the day, but not a place to explore en la noche.

Aqui estan algunas fotos de Casco Viejo:

We ate our 1st Panamanian meal in Casco Viejo. It was a quesidilla & it was delicious.

 After dinner we caught a taxi to Amador Causeway – a beautiful area across the water from the city skyline. The view was absolutely breathtaking:

We walked down the length of the causeway, checking out the boats, stores, people, etc. Of course one of the first things my eye caught was an ice cream store.

In case you were wondering if I was able to resist temptation:

Ice cream cones in hand, we walked down the causeway, simultaneously admiring the beautiful views & sweating our brains out. A few more photos from the causeway:

Al fin, we took a cab back. Here’s one thing I’ve noticed about Panama City: the quality of cab you will get is a complete crap shoot. Some will be very nice, some will be average, and some will be like the one we took home from the causeway. Dear god. Our cab driver was about 175 years old. He had a ridiculous cough/wheeze that occurred every 10 seconds or so. He also never covered his mouth. He drove like a maniac. For awhile, I was concerned that one of the wheels might pop off. Speaking of popping, it was obvious that the car had been in at least one accident, as there was clear evidence that the airbag has been deployed.

What I’m trying to say is that pretty much, it was an awesome experience. And now that we have survived, we have a funny story to look back on. When in Panama!

Upon arriving back to MD, we were thirsty! There’s a grocery store about 1/3 mile away, so we decided to walk there. I don’t know why, but I just love grocery stores, especially when visiting other countries. I love seeing the different type of items found within the store. We went to the drink aisle. One side of the aisle had all of the juices/sodas/waters/etc. The other side had perhaps the largest selection of alcoholic beverages I’ve ever seen (aside from Specs). Mass quantities of beer, wine, hard a, ciders, etc. It was incredible. So, as David picked out drinks from the non-alcoholic side of the aisle, I stared longingly at the alcoholic drink side of the aisle, trying to convince myself that “maybe THIS time, I can try having 2 sips of alcohol without getting insanely sick within 5 minutes and feeling like I would rather be dead for another 45.”

I went with my better judgement and begrudgingly turned to the baby drink, I mean non-alcoholic drink section. I got Pepsi & water. #firstworldproblems, I know.

Here’s something you might not know. The currency used in Panama is the American dollar! Panama and the United States actually have quite an interesting history and relationship. You should look it up and get your learn on. It’s good stuff.

We were pretty exhausted from the day’s festivities, so after returning from the store, we opted to lay low tonight. We took our drinks & snacks & hiked our way up to the hammock at the top of the hill in the backyard. It was a nice relaxing evening.

Can’t believe day 1 is already over! Panama Canal tomorrow…

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