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Published: September 30th 2017
Southern BBQ at the Dallas Airport ...
... chopped beef brisket, super tender and quite juicy, but drenched in BBQ sauce. Mashed potato casserole - not too bad, very cheesy. What should've been the best item for lunch was green beans with - wait for it .... wait for it ... BACON!!!!!!! The beans did have a distinctly bacon flavour as they had been boiled along with chunks of bacon. Too bad the beans were over-boiled and otherwise tasted like crap.
Geo: 8.99427, -79.5188
Travel to certain Central and South American countries can still elicit a certain amount of surprise in people, as they aren't some of the top destinations for most. I'm used to being grilled by customs agents with those frequent trips passing through London, but I had to chuckle a little bit today - I wasn't asked any questions that I hadn't heard before, but the tone was amusing.
"So I see you're going to Panama. What are you going to do there????" Uh ... visit the canal, and just hang out? But I'm only going to be there for a few days before going to Colombia.
"Colombia ... hmmm ... and what exactly are you going to do there????" Uh ... hang out in a few cities, and hit the beach?
"And you're traveling by yourself ... hmmm ..." Uh, well, I might meet up with a friend in Bogota, and my girlfriend will be joining me on the 27th.
"Hmmm ... well, have a good trip!"
If these customs agents are trying to catch any illegal activity, I wonder exactly what they think a criminal would say? "I'm heading to Panama to get my take from helping in a human-smuggling operation.
Pio Pio ...
... chain of fried chicken places in Panama, appearing to be their equivalent of KFC. Should've gone for their fried offerings instead of their roasted chicken, which was mushy and soggy. The highlight of the meal was some passion fruit juice. There aren't many options for food in this neighbourhood past 11 PM, which is when I finally arrived from the airport.
With the proceeds, I'm heading to Colombia to pick up some coke, snort half of it, then smuggle the rest back by swallowing 8 condoms stuffed full of the stuff, and crapping it out when I get back home." Is that what they really expect to hear? Would somebody really slip up and say that? But it's ok ... surviving the stress and fear of dodging Cabo's timeshare reps has sharpened my mental faculties, so bring on the interrogation!
It was yet another long day of travel, this time heading out the door at 5 AM and then going from Calgary to Dallas to Miami, finally arriving in Panama City, connecting quite a few dots along the way. A bit of an adventure even getting into a taxi upon arrival, having pre-booked a transfer with the hostel - apparently, only certain taxis are allowed to depart form the taxi, so I had to follow the driver out of the terminal for a short walk along a dark highway, to a muddy patch of earth where his taxi was parked. Ok ...
Panama City is sprawling - Tocumen International is 35 km from the city centre, but there are a number of outlying communities along the way with American-style shopping malls and chain restaurants everywhere. McDonald's, Taco Bell, Subway ... at night, you wouldn't even know that you were in Panama and not the States. Shouldn't be surprising, given the history between Panama and the USA, with the States taking over construction of the canal from the French, and essentially owning a strip of land that traversed the width of Panama that is the Canal Zone, until 2000, when control of the Zone reverted back to Panama.
Central America does have a reputation for being dangerous, with robberies common - by all accounts, Panama is relatively safe compared to the likes of Guatemala, especially in the affluent neighbourhoods of Panama City. Sometimes the reputation of developing countries like Panama is far overblown, and when hearing any stories of people getting robbed at gunpoint you have to take it with a grain of salt. Like anywhere in the world, there are good and bad areas, and it's important to do your best to stick to safe ones. But having said that, the chances of something bad happening are far greater in a developing on than in say, Canada or the USA.
First impressions of Panama weren't that great, but the official verdict comes tomorrow - arriving so late didn't give a chance to even have a decent stroll around the area.
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