Trip Start Feb 18, 2008
18Trip End Mar 07, 2008
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We found the line to check into our flight.. Thank god we weren't going to Madrid. The line snaked across the airport and nearly back out again. Our line was nearly empty. As we came up to the first attendant I said Buenos Dias. She replied in Spanish... stunned I said no habla espanio and before I could get habla Anglaise she was saying that my dialect was so good she thought I was fluent. We both laughed because at this point she saw that I was terrible at speaking Spanish.
Upon check in we wanted make sure that our seats were together. After the weird fiasco with Copa on the flight here we did our best to at least sit two and two. When she looked it up she saw that I had reserved seats on line and we got those seats...Weird since they hadn't shown up on the flight to Buenos Aires. We also asked for the tourist visa. This seemed to confuse her. That is when she told us that we couldn't check our bags all the way through to Orlando if we were leaving the airport. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if we had gotten the visas in Orlando like we tried to do. I think then our luggage would have been checked. No big deal though. She explained that they had a luggage storage place in the Panama airport. Getting everything checked in we headed to the gate and waited to leave Argentina.
In just 7 hours we were arriving in Panama. This was the most confusing part of the entire trip. Since I had only found out on our day of departure that we would be staying in Panama I didn't do much more than research the hotel. Remember I was booking that as we boarded the plane to leave Florida. We got to customs and I was rather proud of us, even with just a few hours I had known that we had to have a visa for Panama. There were 2 couples in front of us that ended up being shocked as they stood in front of the customs agent. They didn't have cash on them and had to send their husbands in search of a $5 to pay for the visa. We were prepared and did nothing more than hand over our little tourist visa. It didn't take us long to find the luggage storage place. For just $3 a bag we were able to leave everything but our carry ons in the airport.
In the mean time Cory went to look for an ATM. Get this the ATM didn't contain Panamanian currency only US Dollars. The Storage place asked for US currency also.
After storing our luggage we scanned the area for an official taxi stand. We didn't find one. That was when we decided to approach the Avis Car rental place. They were so helpful. I don't know if they were being helpful to us or to one of their friends but it ended up being a help to us. The guy at the Avis desk had a friend that would pick us up. True this probably was taking a risk but his friend was there in 5 minutes. He was driving a nice SUV. His name was Eric and he took us directly to the Roma Plaza for just 30 bucks. I did have enough time to read that a normal taxi from the airport to the center of town was 25 and this was more comfortable and worth the extra 5 bucks. Eric gave us his card and offered to pick us back up to take us to the airport. We decided that it was a great idea and made a meeting time that we thought was appropriate.
We were looking at the neighborhood outside the building and trying to decide if we were in a safe neighborhood. If it were a city in the U.S. it wouldn't be a safe neighborhood. There were dozens of men loitering outside. We weren't sure if they were taxi drivers or locals just hanging. We had thought about driving to the canal and checking out a view at night but we weren't sure. It had already gotten late and we had an early flight in the morning. Our driver was picking us up at 7am. Paulie had really gotten sick. He didn't sleep at all last night. He was so sick. We needed to get some medicine for him. There was a pharmacy right across the street. We struggled to communicate what Paulie needed but we managed to get the point across when Paulie started to cough. There was also a man inside that was bilingual. He was married to a girl from Panama but he was from the United States. He stepped in and translated for us. We talked to him as we left the shop. He was staying in the Roma Plaza as well. It was the weekend of a big expo in town and the Roma Plaza was the only place with rooms. He was kind enough to tell us that the cafe over at the Americana Hotel was very good. So that is how we ended up spending our one evening in Panama. Cervasas and food. It was a very local joint and we seemed to be the only foreigners in the joint. We enjoyed our beer and Paulie enjoyed his decongestant.
We stayed in the bar for a little while and then returned to our hotel and our room. Paulie lent me a shirt to sleep in since I had not brought anything to sleep in. After taking turns in the bathroom getting ready for bed, we all nestled down for a good nights sleep
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