At home with the Anchors!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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So why am I heading to Panama. Well two reasons, firstly, it was to save some cash as it was cheaper to land in Panama City and grab a bus to San Jose Costa Rica than fly direct, secondly, I know a family there that I met at a wonderful wedding two years ago. I have been very lucky that Ed and Solange Anchor were able to put me up for a night and I'm very grateful to them for agreeing to take me in and for their son Alex for sorting it out.
I've been to Panama City before in 2008, I saw a boat pass through the Canal, I saw Old Panama that Captain Morgan destroyed and I did the usual wandering around. When I landed in the airport, the immigration official couldn't give two hoots if I had an ongoing ticket or not.
So from the airport you can pay for a taxi or pay to share a taxi or leave the airport, walk across a dual carriageway, flag down a bus and pay 50cents. You know exactly which way I prefer and which option I chose. Seeing as it was early, 3 or 4 buses went by before I managed to squeeze on one. I inadvertently dropped my bigger bag by the drivers gear stick and to keep out the way walked to the back of the bus. After a couple of stops, a guy who swings on the door drumming up business for the bus, opens the back door and gives me my bigger bag. How kind. Another dude sat down helps me with my smaller bag. I stand for 30 minutes before the bus empties and a seat at the back becomes vacant. Now, all I do is lean on my legs with my arms, but after 5 minutes I remove my arm and my trouser leg is wet, this is how hot Panama is and how hot the bus is without any aircon!
With rush hour traffic it takes an hour or so to make it to Albrook bus station and this is where IŽll meet Ed and he'll drive me from there to their house. I also needed to pick up my ongoing bus ticket to San Jose Costa Rica.
With the bus ticket sorted and HSBC refusing to exchange my Colombian Pesos I met Ed and we discussed football and life in Panama for most of the journey home. We stopped off at a supermarket to grab some things to feed the Gringo and on the way to his house, stopped off at his business and I got to see his warehouse and his office. One thing that I loved was on the staircase to the offices, there are hundreds of pictures of Ed and his family. A truly family run business and really good to see where Ed works.
Made it to Eds house and greeted by three dogs and I say hello to Solange again, I last saw them at the wedding in Brisbane. Solange and Ed fix up lunch and we sit out on a patio, enjoying the cool breeze of the neighbourhood, great food and some tasty beers! Ed and Solange told me many stories about when they travelled, sorry, hitchhiked through Europe. The stories are so interesting, funny and so amazing that time just flew by. I don't want to post any of the stories on the blog but next time you see me, ask me for a couple, you just won't believe your ears. They tell me it's what everyone did in those days, but one couldn't imagine hitchhiking now, the world is a very different place to when Ed and Solange hitchhiked in the 60s. They also had a VW van and drove around Mexico and Central America in the 70s, again great stories that they shared with me, great memories and I felt very lucky and privileged to be told these stories. Travelling now just seems too easy compared with how Ed and Solange travelled. Of course they still travel now and still love to travel cheaply as well, like me, they hate wasting money on expensive taxis and hotels.
At some point I think Solange went to prepare dinner and Ed and I discussed football again for a couple of hours before he switched on the hot water and I got another hot shower. They have a separate house in the garden, so I literally had a house to myself for the night and air con too!
It was great to shower, change into clean clothes and after consuming 6 or 7 beers Ed moved us onto GNTs. Dinner was awesome and very very tasty, some steak with vegetables and there were enough for seconds and maybe thirds! With dinner we shared a bottle of wine. Ed tends to get up early and seeing as I was up at 3am, everyone was very tired so called it a night at 10pm. It was one of those nights where I woke up in the morning in the exact same position I fell asleep in.
A great day! Great company, so good to talk to familiar people and I felt very spoilt and very well looked after. I would like to think I'm pretty easy to host.
Miles walked 0.4
Temperature 30C 86F
Day 87 April 1 - Ed had emailed me previously saying him and Solange wake at 5am to go play 9 holes of golf, he also mentioned that it was not an April Fool. However, Solange had a gardener arrive so I got to lie in till 7am and joined Ed for coffee. Ed made poached eggs with some ham and there were some pictures taken too.
Again, conversation at breakfast was great and after breakfast Ed showed me pictures of their Grand daughter, a very very cute 14 month old with a great smile and I also got to see the scans of my friend Laura (married to their son Alex) who is 20 weeks pregnant. Ed is convinced it's a boy but they won't find out till the birth.
Another hot shower and sadly I am ready to go, but not before I get a tour of the main house.
They have owned the house for 32 years and the house is full with memories and collections and photos. Solange spent around 20 minutes picking out a few items but it would take another couple of days to hear the story behind each one, I do love this idea, to look around your home and see something that triggers a memory, or an event or something beautiful to look at. Solange is a bit of an artist too. The picture of the masks, well the one in the middle is made from an iron and an old bike chain!! She also showed me a coffee table made from a microwave door and another table made form a stove door. They love to recycle items and where Ed employs many skilled workers, if work is quiet, he'll show say a carpenter a magazine of a book shelf and ask the guy to build him one. So inventive and practical.
Sadly time was moving along and I say goodbye to Solange as Ed is driving me to the bus stop. We hit some pretty crazy traffic but I never panic in these situations, I'm always confident I'll make it ontime, although my eldest brother says it'll bite me on the bum one day. I believe, if I know an airport layout, to turn up as close to the flight as possible. Although, one flight from La Guardia to Bahamas, I turned up 30 minutes before the flight left. Well the bus from the subway was super slow. Anyway, they shouted at me but I still made the flight. My eldest brother likes to be there 5 hours ahead of time, so it's always an interesting battle of wills when we travel together!! Haha!
Ed could have just dropped me off, but he came with me to the bus station and helped me collect my ticket and made sure I made my bus. He even took a few pictures and I guess my family can see what travelling Tony looks like with his bags, they look small but don't feel small! I should arrive in Costa Rica in the morning.
I had a great time with Ed and Solange and if my schedule was not so tight I would have happily spent a week with them. Well I have been invited to go again and I'm positive I will in the future as there is more of Panama to see. Thank you to Ed and Solange for being great hosts and taking in a Ginger Gringo. I had a wonderful time, enjoyed great conversation and really enjoyed the cooking too!