Home sweet home

Trip Start Feb 18, 2008
Trip End Mar 07, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, March 8, 2008

This was it! We got up early this morning. Poor Paulie didn't sleep at all. He coughed all night. I am glad that we are getting him home. I am also glad that this didn't happen to him at the beginning of the trip like it did in Istanbul a couple of years ago.

We went downstairs to look for Eric but instead found a man who handed us Eric's card and said that Eric couldn't pick us up but that he would be taking us to the airport. Since it was the same card we figured that we were okay. This just seems to be the way that things are done in Panama. This gentleman took us back to the airport a different way and for a moment we worried if we had done the right thing. Actually he was avoiding the tolls and in the process took us by some historical ruins in Panama.

Panama La Vieja (Old Panama) is the name used for these ruins of the Monumental Historic Complex of the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific coast of the Americas by Pedro Arias de Avila on 15 August 1519. This city was the starting point of the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru (1532). It also was a stopover point of one of the most important trade routes in the history of he American continent leading to the famous fairs of Nombre de Dios (God's Name) and Portobelo where most of the gold and Silver that Spain took from the Americas passed through.

The fire, destruction and pillage that was caused by Henry Morgan in 1671 provoked the move and construction of a new city in 1673, which today is known as the Old City Center or Colonial Panama. Its old stone paved streets now overgrown with grass make you appreciate its 476-year old history. Currently a new archaeological project was started on this site with the idea of protecting and restoring the ruins. The administration of the project is run by a foundation that is a joint force between the government, a civic club and private enterprise.

He dropped us at the check in with plenty of time to get our luggage out of storage and check in for our flight. Our attendant asked how long we were in Panama and when I said only one night I could see his disappointment. I explained that we just had a long layover from a flight from Buenos Aires but that some day we hoped to visit again. It is obvious that the people of Panama have great pride in their country. He seemed more pleased when I said that we would try to come back to Panama.

Paul and Jeremiah had a little trouble at check in. The restrictions on baggage weight had put them in a pinch. I had noticed our weight and was trying not to draw attention to our bags. We were over the limit but the guys getting us checked in were trying to let it slip on by. Jeremiah looking for a place to put some of his stuff asks about our luggage. I try to just brush it off. I didn't know what to say. Luckily they had already sent our luggage on its way. Jeremiah said he would pay the 25 bucks and suddenly when they weighed it again it wasn't over the limit... Yea!!!!!!

Going through security we didn't have any trouble but when we got to the gate a table was set up out front of all flights going to the U.S. They confiscated Paulie's decongestant. They were following the liquids rule for flights going to the U.S. Funny thing was that our flight from Buenos Aires to Panama allowed the same liquid on board. It was easy to see that the band-aid that the U.S. had put on the wound of terrorism did nothing more than make it more difficult for the employees of the airlines and their customers. I know that I am suppose to support anything that is done to prevent terrorism but in my opinion some of the rules that they have implemented have done nothing to prevent anything and it bothers me that people are willing to accept the rules without logical thought into what they actually do to make them more safe. I guess that this thought is only reinforced as I travel to other countries and see the more effective rules put in place to make people safer not just to make people feel safer. We weren't even allowed to bring a soda or beverage, purchased in the airport, into the area before boarding the plane. 

The flight home was great. I am so glad that Copa ended up being a pleasure to fly. The prices are great and when I go back to South America I will be looking into flights with Copa. I won't be going back on a cruise. I have decided that 3 and 4 day cruises are my limit. For me a cruise is good for nothing more than pure decadence and relaxation. It is not a means to which you can see the world. I found out on this trip that there aren't a lot of "cruise activities" that appeal to me.

I learned a lot about myself on this trip and for that it was well worth it. I also learned some ins and outs about how to visit Antarctica. If I ever decide to go back I am going to fly into Ushuaia and take one of the Norwegian or Russian boats and actually stand on the continent. I want to get up close and personal with the wildlife. I definitely want to go back to South America. I want to go back to Buenos Aires and visit Iguazu falls. Overall it was a fantastic trip and I can't wait to go back. Though I don't think our dog wants us to ever leave home again....
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