1 chopped banana, 1/2 an apple, 1 scrambled egg, 1/2 a piece of toast, 1 pastry & juice was how today began. (Demasiado comida!!) Our b&b has a cute little patio right outside of our room where breakfast is served each morning. Alejandro greeted us with a smile (como siempre), chatting with us about our day’s plan. He and his wife really are outstanding hosts who go above & beyond.
After breakfast, we caught a cab to the Panama Canal. Here’s a view, en route:
A ship had just finished passing through the canal when we arrived, so we went through the museum first. One thing I noticed in the museum:
The dude on the left has carved eyeballs and the other does not.
I also thoroughly enjoyed this sign, whatever it might mean:
The history of the Panama Canal is quite incredible…
Here’s a VERY brief history:
1889: French abandones unsuccessful attempt to build canal through Panama.
1902: US passes bill allowing gov. to build canal through Panama (under Colombia control at this time)
Jan. 1903: Colombia fails to ratify treaty which would have provided US land/rights to build canal.
Nov. 1903: Panamanian Revolution. Panama claims independence from Colombia with US help.
1904: Canal Treaty is signed – Panama gives US rights to build Panama Canal for $10 million.
1904: US purchases French canal construction company for $40 million.
1914: Canal opens!
1977: President Carter signs treaty re: handing over control of Canal to Panama.
1999: Panama takes full control of canal.
After the museum & movie, we waited about 3 more hours for another ship to come. !!! I spent a majority of this time playing one of my favorite games: people watching. In this game, I attempted to guess: where the people were from, occupation, and if there was a couple – if they were dating/married and/or duration of relationship. If they were in close enough proximity, I would try to guess the language spoken. Creepy? Only slightly.
Waiting! The smoke you see behind me actually isn’t smoke. It’s evidence of construction! They are currently working on an expansion project that will double the capacity of the canal.
Al fin, a ship arrived! Here’s the ship we saw pass through the canal!
Look at it’s size compared to the people on the sidelines:
And lowering to pass through the Miraflores locks:
After the canal, we took a cab over to a contemporary art museum. After browsing the 1st floor, we saw a sign for a cafe, so we followed the sign down a short hallway and into a room… to find a vending machine. I.E. the “cafe”. ha!
As we began heading up to the 2nd floor, one of the employees came out and said, “Espérame!” and hand signaled for us to stop. So we hung out awkwardly in the stairwell for a hot minute. He then came back and said it was ok to go upstairs. After ascending the stairs, we realized why – they were filming! What they were filming? I have no clue. But they were filming and had to stop so we could proceed upstairs to look around. It was a little awkward, but what can you do!
After completing our museum tour, we were hungry!! We asked for a recommendation and the employee said “Albrook Mall”. This is perhaps the 5th person who has said to visit Albrook Mall. My first thought was: HELL NO. I don’t like malls/shopping back home, so why go to a mall all the way in Panama?
…10 minutes later and we were at Albrook Mall.
It’s incredible how much of an American influence there is here in Panama. In the food court, for example, I’d say about 70% of the restaurants are American chains:
1. A rule I have when traveling abroad: don’t eat food from a place you can visit in the states.
2. I ate fast food. I don’t even do this back home, so why did I do this in Panama?
To my credit: I was feeling sick, I’m notorious for getting sick from a random variety of food, and although consuming McDonalds probably took about 3 years off my life, I knew short-term I would be fine. So, alas, I ate a happy meal. Ironically, I’m still not happy about it.
One interesting thing I noticed: many people at the mall were wheeling around suitcases! I presume this is because most stores don’t allow patrons to bring in other bags/large purses. This of course makes sense to me, although when we first walked in the mall, my 1st thought was “Hmm, there must be a store with a great luggage sale!”
After dinner we took a quick spin through the mall, then caught a cab back to MD. This cab driver was p-i-m-p, PIMP! So was his cab. Everything was covered in shimmery “blingy” contact paper.
Door handle, exhibit A:
The rearview mirror had no sort of plastic case – just a piece of mirror with four very sharp edges. The muffler sounded like it was 2 seconds from rattling off. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think it even had a muffler. There were colorful clurb flashing lights within. He drove like a maniac and I’m fairly confident he sped up for every speed bump.
As we got going, he asked us what kind of music we liked. Why? Oh, because he had somehow mounted a flat screen monitor to the inside of his dashboard that played music videos. He flipped on some reggeton and turned the volume UP. ¡Sube! ¡Sube! ¡Sube! A video came up that was apparently filmed in Colon. He told us that people in Colon have darker skin than those in Panama City. Then he said: Barak Obama is black. Or more like: “Obama negro.” To which I said: “Pues, un mitad.” It’s interesting to hear the thoughts/comments/impressions, from those outside of the states, of the US/Americans. And vice versa.
Here we are bumpin’ to the video. Please also take note of the insanely sharp-edged rear-view mirror:
We stopped for a red light and our driver proceeded to purchase an entire pizza from some dudes on the side of the street. He turned around and said, “lo siento, pero tengo mucho hambre!” “Esta bien, no te preocupes” is what I said in reply. In my head I was thinking: “You’re crazy/my favorite cab driver so far.”
That night we ate dinner at a restaurant called Tinajas. The special part about this restaurant is that it features a folkloric dance dinner show. We hadn’t made reservations, so unfortunately the room with the show was completely full. We were a little disappointed, but oh well, not a big deal! Just as we were getting ready to ask for the check, the waitress let us know that they had a no show and we could take their table. CLARO QUE SI!! (: We were seated right as the show began. Not only did we get to see the show, but our table was front and center.
One of the drummers was absolutely incredible:
Here’s a video of one of the dances:
Awesome show. We’ve quickly learned that no trip back to MD is complete without a taxi joy ride. Let’s just say that tonight’s ride home did not disappoint. (:
Tomorrow we’re flying to Contadora Island. This afternoon I received an email from Air Panama saying our flight will be delayed 2 hours. No bueno, but we’re at their mercy, so our plan is to go with the flow! Beggars can’t be choosers, right? (: I just hope they don’t delay our flight on the way home, as we also have an international flight to catch that day. Vamos a ver…