Preparing for a new Continent!

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Jun 23, 2009

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Where I stayed
Voyager International Hostel

Flag of Panama  ,
Thursday, April 27, 2006

I woke up at 5 am (in order to catch the ferry back to the mainland) before my alarm went off, which was a good thing since I forgot to change it when I changed time zones. Got to the mainland, no problem. When I got onto my first bus headed for David, I met a guy named Winston who was also headed to Panama City and decided to adopt me for the day. He called ahead to get me a reservation on the bus from David and got me into the correct taxis and was just an all around nice guy. Once we arrived in Panama City, I jumped in a cab and headed to Voyager International Hostel. It is on the 3rd and 8th floors of a downtown building... the views were amazing!!! I then met Adam (U.S), Ryan(Canada), Jerome (Holland) and Karen(South Africa). Even though I had been up since 5 am I still went out with them and a few other people from the hostel and partied all night long. It was so much fun!

After a 23 hour day, I was not in the mood to do much of anything the next day. However, I was still woken up by the weird cleaning guy walking into the girls dorm at 8 am to "clean", when in fact he was just looking around at all the girls. The rest of the day I spent laying around and working on the internet. However, that after noon Adam, Ryan and I headed out to the Miaflores Locks at the Panama Canal. It was so great! We were able to watch the largest ship of the day pass through. The thing was gigantic and carried so much cargo! It really is one of the Engineering Marvels of our time. That night I just couldn't handle going out again... which turned out to be a good thing, since Jerome stayed out until 1 o'clock PM the next day!

The next day I went on a little walk... well, it actually was about a hour and a half walk, down to Panama Viejo. It is where the first settlement of Panama was located. However, it was all burned down by pirates and moved to another peninsula across the bay. I ran into another girl from the Hostel named Tameryn and we walked around the site together looking like we were on a school trip... we both had one about the same outfit. It was pretty funny and we got a kick out of it, but I did feel kind of silly. After doing a bit of shopping, we rode back to the hostel in one of Panama Cities famous Diablo Rojo (red Devil) buses. They are old U.S. School buses painted even more crazy than the Guatemalan Chicken Buses and inside them it is even more crazy! There is loud music and flashing lights... it is a moving discoteca! The rest of the day I spent getting things organized to mail home, working on the internet, getting information about my flight to Colombia and getting ahold of my old co-worker, Jose's, brother-in-law. He was kind enough to let my parents send me a new credit card and a NEW SHIRT!!!

The next day, Sunday, everything was closed, so I spent the day just hanging out. Panama City is so hot we spent the afternoon at the movie theater watching Basic Instinct 2 (yes, they made a second one). It was one of the only films in English, and wasn't that bad... at least it was worth the $2 I spent to sit in Air Conditioning all afternoon.

Monday was a busy day... I shipped home about 5 kilos of gifts and souvenirs that I had been carrying for about 2 months. My pack was so much lighter! I also found out that Luis (Jose's brother-in-law) had received my package and would be getting it to me later that afternoon. Which meant I was able to book my flight to Colombia. When I went to book it, I had expected to have to buy an onward ticket out of Colombia (because two other guys at my hostel had too), but they said since I had proof that I was flying out of Chile, that was good enough. But the other guys also had other flights out of other countries and still had to buy a return ticket... oh well, saved me $180! So I was getting more and more ready to head into a new continent! Got my bags packed and my ticket purchased. One of the great things about my hostel location is that it was right around the corner from a very new, and full of good stuff, grocery store and there is a kitchen. So I hadn't really been eating out at all while in Panama City. That night for dinner I made fajitas with Jerome and Dave (Australian). We just sat around enjoying the views of the city at our version of a 5-star restaurant. It was really good. We then just stayed up chatting with a group of guys who have been biking all the way through Central America. Two of the guys even started in Alaska and plan on going all the way down to the southern tip of Chile. They were really cool guys and a bit crazy... but great stories!

Tuesday I finished up all my running around and in the afternoon I headed out to Casco Viejo with Jerome and Bunny. Bunny is the sweetest little old lady who still travels on the cheap. She is in her early 70's and has been traveling for 15 years and has been to over 120 countries. Two of her kids work for the airlines so she gets free flights and then just stays at hostels and rides busses. She was super sweet and full of life and adventure. She reminded me a lot of my sweet little Grandma... so I just had to spend the day with her. We rode the Diablo Rojo out toward Casco Viejo, which is the second oldest area of Panama City. The area is full of colonial buildings and both Jerome and Bunny said it reminded them of Cuba. Some of the buildings were run down, burnt out and really dilapidated, but others had been renovated and were so beautiful. This area could be such a hot spot for tourism, however it is still pretty dangerous and some streets were not even safe to walk down during the day time. We had such a great time walking around and looking at the architecture. One cool thing was looking across the bay toward the new banking district with it's shiny sky scrapers and comparing the old and the new. I was finally able to take a picture of Panama City just like the one Jose gave me over about a year and a half ago. I had it hanging in my office reminding me to save my money in order to see it myself someday... and here I am! We were even lucky enough for it not to rain on us while we walked around.

The next morning while I read in bed, the weird cleaner guy came in our room again while people were sleeping, just to have a look. That was enough! I went out there and told him off in Spanish. I basically said, "You no enter the girls room in the morning when girls are sleeping with no clothes on (they were sleeping in their under ware). It is not okay and he can't do it". There was a lot of finger shaking and pointing at the room. I think he got the point and I was so proud of my self! My Spanish is still not to good, but I can tell someone off in another language! Yeah, for me! After saying good bye to Jerome I mailed some postcards and worked on the internet. I then met Adam for dinner at this Indian place he found. It was so good I decided to head back there again later that night with a Canadian guy. Adam joined us later and I spent my last night in Central America eating Indian food and smoking a melon flavored hookah. It was such a fun and relaxing evening.
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