1 week in Panama City

Published: May 24th 2018
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On Thursday, May 10th, Rebecka and I arrived at 4AM - after an exhausting 10h bus ride from the border - to Panama City. Fortunately, Rebecka had insisted on booking a bed in our hostel for the night before, so that, when we arrived there at 5AM, we already had a bed waiting for us and could sleep a few more hours.

I got up around 8:30AM and - surprise, surprise! - on the breakfast table was sitting Nathalie from the UK whom we had met a month ago in Copán, Honduras. We had breakfast together and then she accompanied me to find a place where I could get my next rabies shot. We went to different pharmacies and hospitals close to our hostel, but the answer was always the same : the only place to get a rabies vaccination is the ministry of health. Frustrated we went to the shopping mall around the corner to get my phone repaired (it had suddenly refused to charge that morning...). Fortunately, it was only dirty, probably from the sand in Puerto Viejo, and so it took only half an hour and 10$ to get it repaired.

We then went back to our hostel to check on Rebecka who had still been sleeping when we left that morning. She was up, but decided to meet with Max and Jennifer and not to join us for the day. So, Nathalie and I went to the ministry of health alone. There, were had to go to different buildings until we finally found the right one. The doctor there told me that my doctor in Costa Rica had calculated the wrong dates and that my next shot was due only the next day. Unfortunately he would not be there, but he left instructions for the nurse. It was all a bit weird and complicated...

Nathalie and I then went to the fish marked where we had delicious fish for lunch. In the afternoon, we walked across the « casco viejo » (= old town) and I must say, we were not impressed... The people were much less friendly than in Costa Rica, everywhere guys whistling and calling out for us ; I hate this, it’s disgusting ! We stayed a few hours, not very impressed by this old town, and went back to the hostel. Rebecka sent me a message that she would spent the evening with Max and Jennifer having dinner in the old town and then going to a rooftop bar. Nathalie and I didn’t feel like going back there and we were not very hungry, so we just went to the supermarket around the corner and got a bottle of wine. We met 2 very nice older guys at the hostel who kept refilling our glasses with wine and so, having not eaten much, we got pretty drunk. At 11PM, we went out with Roger, a guy from Venezuela who works in the hostel, and with his friends. We had a lot of fun drinking in a bar and then we went out dancing salsa. It was a long night, but we had a great time!

The next morning, I said goodbye to Rebecka who had to leave that day, and went - again - to the ministry of health to get my rabies shot. I was sad to see Rebecka leave, but I was too hangover and tired and had other things to do than think about her departure... And then, we will stay in touch anyway. :-) At the ministry, they were not quite sure what to do with me or where to sent me, but after an hour and going to different offices, they finally brought me to the international vaccination station where I didn’t have to wait in the queue with other people, but could just go in and got my shot in like 5 minutes. They were pretty friendly there, but brutal ! The nurse told me to come closer and just jumped the huge needle in my arm ! It hurt like hell! But, fortunately, it was for free, so at least that’s good. :-)

At lunch, Nathalie and I went for greek food and then to the supermarket where she bought food for her trip to San Blas (she took the speedboat to Colombia) and I bought food for my week in Panama City. The next sailing boat was only going at the end of the next week, so I would have a lot of time there.

Nathalie left (she spent the last night in a different hostel) and I went back to the hostel and spent the afternoon reading and recovering from last night.

In the evening, I cooked for myself, but burned my finger pretty bad and, so, after such a long and exhausting day, I went to bed very early.

I spent Saturday at the hostel, working for university and booked my sailing trip to Colombia. Philip, the guy working at the hostel, told me the boat would be on Thursday, but on Wednesday I would find out that he had made a mistake with the dates and the trip was only on Friday...

At 6PM, I was supposed to meet a guy from JCI Panama for dinner. I waited and waited but he didn’t show until 7:30PM. In the meantime, I met Eddy at the hostel. He’s from San Francisco and we got along very well from the beginning. We have the same humour and both like to drink and to go out and would spent the next week together. I went for dinner with Abdiel, but it was pretty boring and I was glad when I was back at the hostel at 10PM. Eddy, Roger, Milagro, Damaris (2 girls working at the hostel) and I went out to a club that night and had a lot of fun! :-D

I spent Sunday working a bit and relaxing a lot. In the evening, Eddy and I had dinner at the greek place and then went to bed pretty early.

The next day, Eddy went to San Blas for 2 days and so I spent the day working and not doing much.

On Tuesday, I went for my next rabies shot and, when I came back to the hostel, Eddy was back as well. During the day, I worked some more for university and, in the afternoon, I met Michelle from Canada (Toronto). We went to the mall to get some ice-cream and spent some time at the pool. When Eddy came, he told me we would go for pizza in the night with 2 Dutch girls he had met in Colombia. So, at 5PM, we left with Michelle and discovered that it was a quite fancy restaurant, but the pizza was really good there. Nilab and her friend arrived quite late and we had already ordered, but the evening was a lot of fun. They told us about their sailing trip from Colombia to Panama and they talked about what they had seen and done in Colombia. After dinner, we went to a different place, but Michelle went home. So it was just the 4 of us and we had 4 big jars of Sangria and played « never have I ever ». It was a lot of fun and I learned much about the girls and about Eddy. ^_^

When the girls left, Eddy and I went for a short stop to a bar that’s famous for only having prostitutes there. It was interesting and sad at the same time : there were so many beautiful young women there, all working as prostitutes...

The next day, I went to see the famous Panama Canal and shopping and, in the evening, Michelle, Nilab and her friend and Eddy and I went to a casino in the Hilton’s hotel where we played some beerpong and had nachos. Michelle and Nilab’s friend had to leave early, one going to the airport to fly to Nicaragua and the other one taking a bus to Bocas del Torro.

Nilab, Eddy and I decided to go to the cinema, a VIP-cinema, and watch Deadpool. Eddy had told me much about the first movie and he was absolutely excited to see the second one.

In the mall where the cinema was located, we had some sushi and mango sangria and then went to see the movie at 9PM and, I must say, it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life! After 30 minutes I went out to see if I can switch to another movie, like Avengers, but it was the only movie playing... I went back and fell asleep at some point. When I woke up again, the movie was still very bad and so I left the cinema and went back to the hostel. Since there was nobody there to talk to, I just went to bed...

The next morning, to my big surprise, Michelle sat at the breakfast table! They had not allowed her to fly to Nicaragua because, coming from Panama, you need the yellow fever vaccination and she didn’t have it... She was tired and quite desperate and I can absolutely understand her... We tried to find a solution for her and so Roger and I sent her to the ministry of health to get the yellow fever vaccin. If the antedate it 10 days, she would still be able to fly to Nicaragua that afternoon. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out and so she decided to fly to Colombia the next day instead.

That morning, I also met Ingrid from Norway and Patrick from London who would to the same sailing trip as me the next day.

While Eddy and Michelle went for lunch, I stayed at the hostel, eating the rest of my food. In the afternoon, I went to bakery and got a chocolate cake for Eddy, because it was his 13 month travelversary (a word he had invented for the aniversary of your travel ; he had also invented « east-gem » to say « German speaking person from Belgium). We ate the cake with Michelle and 2 girls from Montreal we had met earlier that day and spent the afternoon playing games like Shithead and Jenga with them.

That night - our last night together - we had greek food and a few cocktails at Eddy’s hotel (he had changed from the hostel to a hotel for his last 2 days of traveling). Michelle was very tired, having not slept much the night before, and, since she had to go to the airport at 2AM, we left her at the hotel to sleep in Eddy’s bed while we went out for a few more drinks and to play pool. At 2AM we came back to wake Michelle and accompany her back to the hostel to say goodbye.

The next morning, Ingrid, Patrick and I went to the supermarket and bought lots of alcohol and snacks for our boat trip to Colombia. We had lunch with Eddy and played some Jenga until our shuttle came to pick us up at 3PM. I was very sad to say goodbye to Eddy and to the hostel I had spend so much time in. It had become a home and I knew most people there by now. But hey, Eddy and I will definitely stay in touch and he might even come to see me in Asia and celebrate my 30th birthday with me! :-D

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