Published: May 17th 2011May 1st 2011
Our room at Hospedaje Casco Viejo
Notice the headboard... yep, it's painted on the wall.
Travel day. Woohoo (said with very little enthusiasm). I guess I shouldn't complain. There aren't very many of these days left for us. We'll be home before we know it. The countdown is on, 22 days to go. Yikes.
We packed up & made a quick breakfast sandwich to start us off right. We caught our first bus in Santa Catalina at 7:15 am. My favorite passenger today was the guy who got on the bus with a chainsaw & gas. They just set the chainsaw down in the aisle & we smelled the gas until he got off the bus. Gotta love it.
We arrived in Sona at 9:30 & were placed on a direct bus to Panama City. Perfect! We thought we'd have to go through Santiago. We had about 1.5 hours to wait in Sona until our bus left. We plugged the computer in to a Movistar (cellphone company) kiosk & set their alarm off, oops. Geoff just unplugged it from the wall & it turned off. he he he. Today is Labor Day in Panama so there are a million people out & about traveling. Everyone uses the buses. I found us some breakfast after
walking through Sona, dirt roads & dust. It's always so interesting when I walk by myself anywhere because I'm almost always with Geoff. But when you are a woman walking alone the attention you get is enough to make you think you're a supermodel or the only woman left on earth. One or the other. It's a trip. I found us some beef & french fries for breakfast. That's all they had on the menu at the restaurant that I found who was still serving food. Small towns can be difficult to find food in if you aren't eating during designated mealtime hours. So, we ate our beef & fries & finally got on the bus to Panama.
The trip took about 4.5 hours but at least there was A/C & it wasn't sooo cold, it was perfect. There is always music playing on the buses, that's normal, but this guy had his music blaring. I finally got up & asked him to turn it down, I couldn't take it. And another guy a few rows behind us was playing music from his cellphone super loudly so there was like a duel of music. Too much. (People walk around
playing music on their cellphones all the time, totally a normal occurrence, I guess headphones aren't affordable?). But, he was gracious enough to turn it down from blaring to loud which made me very happy. We stopped at a restaurant/truck stop diner on the way & had some delicious pork & a gatorade. We definitely paid gringo prices. Nothing on the menu was over $3 but our plate & drink cost $6. Oh well, we're personally helping the economy.
We made it to Panama (the locals don't say city, just Panama) without too much work. It's of course hot & muggy. So pleasant on the bus I forgot what the real temps were like outside. Getting off buses is always interesting. Everybody mass rushes the aisles & you practically have to elbow your way from your seat to the aisle. It's not that people are mean, it's just the way they do things. Usually another gringo will let you in or you wait or you have to be pushy like they are. Then once off the bus everyone was waiting to get their bags on the curbside of the bus (the bags are all underneath). Geoff just went to
Our first shaved ice.
This guy was the perfect salesman.
the other side, opened the storage, grabbed our bags & we were off. Sometimes its just best to do things yourself. The main bus terminal here is attached to a huge, really nice, modern mall. We didn't check out the mall but instead caught a taxi to an area of town that everyone we've met said we should stay in, Casco Viejo. We were done with buses & apparently there aren't buses that run directly there, so we settled for a $3 cab ride.
We arrived at Hospedaje Casco Viejo & thankfully they had a room for us. With our own bathroom even! Yippee! This part of town is really cute. It has cobblestone streets & lots of swanky restaurants. But, on the other side of the town is the projects so it's a really interesting area to say the least. We walked all around this part of town & found a great gelatto place where I had the most incredible chocolate orange gelatto. To die for. Sooo good! Geoff had cookies (like cookie dough, but baked first). It wasn't as good as mine though, at least in my opinion. From the pier you can see all of downtown
Panama City. All the huge buildings lined up along the water. It's actually a really pretty city. There's pretty little promenade that's covered with flowering vines along the water as well. From it you can see all the boats, cruise ships, & tankers lined up & waiting to get through the canal. We talked with a few people & had our first shaved ice (even though we've seen them all through Central America), it's just so hot here & the guy was super friendly & chatting us up so we got one. It was really good. And really fun to watch him shave the ice from a huge block of ice. We had dinner at a little Italian place right near our hostel. It wasn't the greatest food but sitting outside by the water was very nice. Off to sleep.