Published: November 21st 2011November 21st 2011
Sunday, November 13 - Colon, Panama
Arrived at this busy port at 6:30 a.m. under cloudy skies. Heard last night that it has rained hard here the last couple of days. The disembarkation process was very speedy after our last breakfast in the dining room. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. we were collecting our luggage dockside, then looking for "our friend, Mario", who Fred had made advance Internet arrangements with for transport to Panama City for $20 each. It was a small bus for 12 passengers and we headed off a half hour later, over semi-flooded roads after the bus filled with other cruisers who had also reserved ahead online.
While we were waiting, Fred phoned our condo accommodation contact to advise of our arrival in Colon, only to find out that there was some problem with the reserved condo according to the Spanish speaking housekeeper. I asked the bus driver if he could help translate the phone conversation that Fred was having and he ended up being a helpful go-between. By the time we finished the hour long drive, it had been sorted out that a condo close by to the original booking was a possibility, since there was
a broken air conditioner at the place we had expected to be. So the driver was very good to take us to the changed location at Bayfront Tower on Balboa Ave.
It was a superb location for us with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and all the unique high rises in Panama City. We especially loved the 26th top floor Social Deck with pool, lounge chairs and tables to relax in the shade or sun and enjoy the lofty vistas. The area also had WiFi, so we were able to use the computers and do some catch-up. The condo was on the 6th floor and we were glad it was air-conditioned as there is high humidity that makes the 30 degree air temperature feel even hotter.
We lunched in a nearby restaurant, then had quite a walking adventure trying to find a grocery store to stock up our kitchen with some basic foodstuffs for our 3 days here. We were so tuckered out by the time we got back with all the groceries, that we stayed in for the evening and made our own tacos. The boys watched football on TV while we girls read.
We decided to walk along the ocean frontage pathway and head towards what we thought looked like Panama Old Town and then explore the Amador Causeway beyond, which we could see from the top floor. After walking an hour, we decided to cab. Good thing as it was another 20 minutes by cab! We did a little shopping, had lunch and returned by cab to then enjoy a swim and lounging on the upper deck.
We hiked over to a Chinese restaurant for some takeout. Had a nice dinner, then watched the Monday night Football game while the girls read! I can't believe how much I've missed football.
Tuesday, November 15
We had arranged for a recommended driver, Jose, to pick us up in the morning for a day-long sightseeing ride. We started at the local YMCA building where there are many stalls selling native art and craft works. We decided to buy "molas" which are a type of appliqué sewn onto cloth made by the indigenous native Panamanians. It looks much better than it sounds!
We then went to see the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. We watched from a viewing
platform, and saw several ships go through. There was a film presentation showing the history as well as the new canal being built to be ready for the 100th anniversary of the canal opening in 1914. The new locks run parallel to the current locks and are being designed to take much larger ships, which will double the current capacity of the canal.
We returned to the apartment to get ready for our final dinner together. We had arranged to eat at the Tre Scalini restaurant owned by a Panamanian woman who dined at the table next to ours on the ship while we crossed the Atlantic, whom Maureen had spoken with. We had a truly amazing Italian dinner and even I was able to eat a wonderful Italian meal despite my food allergies. We walked in the warm evening back to our condo and then set our alarm for 5:30 a.m. before going to sleep.
Wednesday, November 16
THE LAST DAY!
We arranged for Jose to take us to the airport at 5:45 a.m. Maureen and Fred were taking a later flight. We had no problems connecting at Miami and then Dallas-Fort Worth through to Vancouver.
Jason met us at YVR and James had dinner ready for us when we got home.
We had a most wonderful holiday. Can't wait to see everyone over the next few months to swap stories.
There are more photos below