Thursday, November 13, 2008

Panama

Heather, Jason, and Jen left Costa Rica on Tuesday. At least they tried to. One of the engines on Jason and Jen's plane malfunctioned about 30 minutes after takeoff and they had to return for an emergency landing. Since there were no other flights to the states that day, they got to spend an additional night in Costa Rica.

I just made it into Panama City on Wednesday afternoon. It was an 18 hour bus ride from San Jose, counting about 1.5-2 hours at the border crossing. The cost of the trip was about $35. I could have gotten cheaper, but I opted for the executive bus which cost $10 more. I'm not really sure what I got for my $10, but for 18 hours, I was willing to take a gamble. When I got to the border crossing there was a big sign on the window stating that you are supposed to have proof of onward travel (bus or plane ticket out of Panama) and proof of solvency (at least US$150 in cash) to enter Panama. I had neither, but I was not asked to show either despite many Nicaraguans and Salvadorians in front of me having to do so.

I'm a little unprepared for Panama. I haven't bought a guidebook or really made any plans. All I had was a recommendation from a friend for a place to stay.

Panama is very modern with many tall skyscrapers. I'm a little disappointed however, that there is no Club LaVela (Just kidding). It is very reminiscent of Miami. But I'm staying in the Casco Viejo neighborhood - the oldest part of town. It's a handsome, but still a bit shabby part of town with many old buildings. It fell into ruin over the years, but has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage sight and efforts are underway to restore it. It looks a lot like Havana, Cuba (or at least what I imagine Havana, Cuba looks like).

It's funny how we never appreciate buildings until they get old or until we're in danger of loosing them. All over the US, downtown areas and older neighborhoods that were fled by the middle and upper class in the 50's and 60's have been or are being restored and are trendy places to live, eat, and shop. It makes me wonder whether in 50 or 100 years middle and upper class people will flee the suburbs. Will Cool Springs or Bellevue fall into ruins? Will there be community efforts to restore them to their former glory? Will we ever feel nostalgic about strip malls, big box stores, and office parks?

I bought a camera on Amazon, had it sent to Heather, and she brought it down to me. The screen didn't work. So she is going to send it back for me and I am off to buy camera #4. I've had the worst luck with cameras on this trip. Luckily there is a pretty big mall near the bus station and prices on electronics should be cheaper here than in Costa Rica. I'm also going to try to find a dentist. I'm overdue for a cleaning and for some reason I can't get floss between two of my teeth. I hope I can get an appointment soon.

5 comments:

Ozzy Nelson said...

I'm happy that Heather made it out of there ok after an emergency landing. That can't be fun.
I'm sure the executive bus fare was worth every penny.
I can't wait to hear about the dentist visit.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the bus ride saved you an additional 12 hours of transit time.

You are gonna see that canal while you are there, right?

Beast

toomuchcountry said...

Panama City?? WHAT? Spring break with the drunk college chicks isn't for another 4 months! Oh...THAT Panama City...sorry, never mind. Continued safe travels. And continued great blogging. Hope camera #4 works - Ozzy & I want to see more teacher photos. Wait...Hot For Teacher, Panama...cue Van Halen!

jenholt said...

That dentist visit should be quite interesting! I'm sure it's not the spa-type treatment we can opt of here. Sorry about all the camera problems...I guess this trip just wasn't meant to be photographed!

Anonymous said...

Hey, in the Panama City there is a wildlife place where raccoon will dance for food. I have him on camera from my visit. They also have more parakeets than I have seen in my life there. You may not be interested. Definitely go to the canal. Have fun. I can't remember the place where we stayed but you could drink the water there. Also, just one final thought--I had the best pineapple popsicle I ever had in my life there from a little man with a cart one afternoon. You should try it. Tandi