06.22.2012 - 06.24.2012 90 °F
It's finally raining. And not just rain, a true storm – the kind that you're a little worried during because that lightening seems REAL close. I've been waiting for this for several days, there's not much better than a tropical storm. But let me back up...
I'm in Panama! I arrived on Friday afternoon, politely thanked and declined that taxi driver who offered me a reduced rate while leading me to an unmarked car (he attempted to reassure me with a yellow, unattached license plate... “no gracias senior.”). You're welcome Mom and Jimmy.
Almost nothing about my hostel is really worth noting. I'm in a 6 bed dorm, which I've had mostly to myself (probably because the air conditioned dorm is only slightly more expensive). The women working here are friendly and helpful, so I guess that makes up for the fact that they charge for absolutely everything and the place doesn't really look like the posted pictures.
When I first arrived, I spent a couple hours wandering around my neighborhood only to discover that Hostel World had it a bit wrong when they said “central, young and hip.” I wasn't particularly impressed, but did find my way to a restaurant with a cute patio and delicious ceviche. I wandered around a bit more, found another restaurant to have a full meal in before coming back to my hostel and heading to bed by 8pm (or maybe just a bit before – don't judge).
I spent my first full day in Panama wandering around Casco Viejo, which is the new old city (does that make sense? Casco Viejo is where the capital was moved following the destruction of Panama Viejo by Captain Morgan – who happens to be portrayed as a much nicer man than he actually was). I found Casco Viejo to be a much more enjoyable place to be than El Congrejo. Although a bit touristy, I thought that the contrast of crumbling buildings and new remolds to be quite beautiful. It was also pretty cool to see all the boats awaiting their turn through the canal.
This morning I took a taxi to the Miraflores Locks to see the Panama Canal, about 20 minutes from my hostel. I found the whole process to be fascinating and learned a lot about both the development and the daily functioning – information that I guess I wasn't able to gather from my visit to the official museum yesterday where all the information was in Spanish. I must say, that I was less than impressed with how ridiculously crowded it was and seriously considered droppin' some elbows.
After the canal I headed to Panama Viejo to check out the ruins. The ruins were beautiful (typical ruins) and made more interesting by the fact that they were partially intermingled with a nearby poor neighborhood. Again, it made for quite the interesting contrast.
After a few days in Panama City, I'm certainly feeling ready to move on. While it has it's highlights, it is by no means my favorite. I'll probably spend a bit of time tonight deciding on where to go next. Reader's Poll: playa o jungla?
As I'm sure most of my (hundreds of) readers know, this is my first time traveling solo. Leading up to this trip, I was feeling incredibly nervous about traveling alone – in fact, I think I tried to convince most of you to come with me at various points to no avail. It turns out that traveling alone isn't nearly as scary as I had imagined. I think it helps that I've been to the region before and that I seem to be able to get by with the limited Spanish I can string together. I like being the one to make ALL the decisions: where and when to eat, when to move on the next destination and where that might be. That being said, it's always nice to have someone to share the journey with (read: Luke, it's not too late to join me)...