In the big city

Trip Start Sep 29, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Panama  , Panamá,
Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Charles

We spent a long weekend in Panama City before flying out to the Dominican Republic.  It is a big city like most others.  Our first night we spent in a hostel in the business district.  The best part about it was that it was cheap and it was close to the Marriott, which we stayed at the rest of of time in the city.  And we ran into James at the hostel, a fellow American traveler from New Mexico who we met at La Biosfera and also ran into while we were in Cabuya.  What a small world!  He was trying to figure out a way to get himself and his bike down to Columbia.  The worst part about the hostel was that we were bitten up by some kind of flying bug while we were sleeping, or at least trying to sleep.

One really unique feature about Panama City is the design of the local buses.  They are old school buses, but I think each driver decorates their own bus.  They are painted in wild colors with cool pictures all around them.  Some are even "jacked up" so the back is higher than the front.  We didn't take any pictures unfortunately, but you can google "pictures of Panama City buses" to see what I am talking about.

There were lots of shops, eateries, and bars to choose from.  We got sushi one night and it was delicious.

On Saturday we went to the Panama Canal.  It would have cost us about $45 to take a cab, but since we were expert travelers (and on a budget) we took 2 buses and paid about $2.00 each round trip.  The canal was incredible.  We went through the museum to learn all about the history and the plans for expansion which had recently been approved.  We also got to watch several ships go through the locks on their way to the Pacific Ocean.  It was awesome  to watch.

Another highlight of the trip was staying at the Marriott.  Not only was the room beautiful, but we got free breakfast, appetizers, and dessert each day.  Since I was sick, we also took advantage of the flat screen TV in our room.  Those Marriott points from all the traveling I used to do really come in handy sometimes.

I also can personally vouch for the quality of their health care.  I was still pretty sick when we arrived into the city.  I went to a doctor at a clinic nearby.  It was a Friday and we were leaving on Monday, so I wasn't sure what he was going to be able to do.  He recommended that I get some lab tests run, which I was able to do right away by walking across the street to the hospital that had a lab.  By Saturday mid morning, the doctor had all the results back from the tests, was able to diagnose what I had, and gave me a prescription to fill.  And yes, the doctor was in and available on a Saturday.  By the time we got on our flight Monday at noon, I was feeling much better and looking forward to hitting the beach.
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heathercharles on

I can't tell you how great it was to stay in that Marriott after spending so much time in crowded hostels. I felt like it was my first time in a hotel!! Unfortunately, as he mentioned, Charles was sick so our city exploration was limited; but to be honest I didn't mind spending extra time at the hotel!
And I concur -- the health care Charles received was exceptional (as compared to US). They really went out of their way to assist him (remember, we don't speak Spanish and a lot of the people we worked with don't speak English); AND his original doctor called an associate to assist Charles on Saturday. It was a great experience.

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