Today we are off on a tour of the city and its surrounds. There are 8 of us (mainly Aussies) who have decided to create our own tour with a local tour guide.
We are anchored today so we will be tendering ashore. Our tour turned out great. We picked up an air conditioned taxi van with a driver who spoke good English. He took us to Quarry heights for a magical view of the city. Quarry Heights used to be the housing area where the US Naval officers lived before the hand over in 1999
. Next a rain Forrest Jungle Park where we walked for an hour or so and saw beautiful birds, turtles and deer. This was a lovely place to be in the shade, as the down town city temp was 37oC. From there a drive around the new part of the city. Traffic was gridlocked. We were shown a couple of tall tower blocks, corrupt business men launder their money building theses huge structures, only to find they are structurally unsafe and condemned. One such building (a huge sky scraper) is at such a lean, that the lift won't work, so it is uninhabitable. Lunch at a local restaurant, then on to the old part of Panama. This area is still very unsafe. Drugs, Mafia gun fights just to name a few of the problems. Our driver locked our doors and drove us through the streets. He said not to worry as there were about 3 policemen on every corner. Further into the old town there are some lovely Plaza's that are being restored. Beautiful old colonial buildings and parks. We finished off with a drive around some more interesting landmarks, and then back to the Marina for a very welcome refreshment, before tendering back to the ship.
Arrival at Panama this morning was 7.30am. Sun is streaming down and I guess it's going to be a hot day. We crossed the Equator yesterday and had the usual celebrations with King Neptune coming aboard to punish people for their sins aboard ship. Lots of fun and many ended up in the pool.