Friday, December 24, 2010

Here we are!!!

Our trip from Minneapolis to Panama was eventful but smooth. Here are the highlights:

We woke up at 2:30am to make it to the MSP airport by 4:15am. I was expecting to go through the "body scan" units at the airport, but found out that only a few of the security checkpoints have those body scan units. So, we went through just the metal detector, and I did get a little pat down from a matronly lady, but she didn't touch any of my private parts.

We flew into Miami to catch the flight to Panama City. We were excited we got upgraded to an exit row, but dismayed when we realized we couldn't lift the arm rests (my favorite way to fly is sprawled against Steve, sleeping, which was impossible on this segment). Sure, we had great leg room, but we also couldn't recline our seats.

We had a dog in the row in front of us, who behaved very well. No barks or anything. The lady told us the dog was a seasoned traveler. 

Much different (peaceful) than our journey from Miami to Panama City. That flight was full and 5 people got bumped. We sat in regular seats (with no leg room) but our arm rests moved, and our chairs reclined. I tried to sleep but didn't get much shut eye. There were 2 children in our immediate vicinity that were screaming (I would guess around 2-3 year old). they could talk but also could throw major tantrums).

Once we landed, we got through customs quickly (yay) and got our luggage. We had one piece of checked luggage that weighed 64lbs so we had to pay extra for it. But, at least everything made it in one piece.

We then had to rush (via taxi) to the regional airport in Panama City to catch our flight to David. Our flight was scheduled for 5pm but when we arrived at 4:10, they said "no". We were worried a bit, but decided to just go along. We found out they meant to put us on the 4pm flight that was JUST leaving. So we rushed, and made it onto the tiny plane. We flew Aeroperlas. The "stewardess" was a friendly young man and we got free cookies and beverages on the 40 min flight. Even the beer was free, although I don't drink.

When we arrived in David, we were in a very small airport. In fact, they only had one room where passengers board. (one gate, I should say). The small Panama City one had 2 rooms. Airport parking is free (even for weeks), and it is nestled on the outskirts of David, which is a bustling town of maybe 200,000 residents.

When we were driving to catch the flight, we drove through the toll roads right in the middle of Panama City, and noticed LOTS of garbage, dumpsters were FILLED with trash and other debris. We found out that the government is taking over the garbage collection and they just haven't gotten up to speed yet.

So, we arrived in David, and Connie, our host (her and her husband own the cute boutique hotel in Boca Chica named Gone Fishing Panama) was there to pick us up. It is about a 50 minute drive from David to Boca Chica. Her Excursion wouldn't start (you need 4WD on these roads out here). Finally we got it to start and went about 1/3 of the way to the resort before the vehicle start spewing out smoke from both ends. We parked at a gas station to cool the engine off, put oil in, and some water in the radiator (once it cooled off), and waited. We couldn't get it to start again, so we taxi'd it to the resort.

We didn't mind this little adventure at all. It was what we wanted to experience. What life really is like living here. Boca Chica is a town of about 250 people, a little fishing village. David is I think the 2nd or 3rd largest city in Panama. It is not a nice looking town, but it is absolutely beautiful in its own way. People walk down the middle of the street, no cares in the world, which makes it frustrating for drivers. There are malls, shopping places, etc but very different from what I am used to back in the states.

We finally got to the resort. We got to drive on the Trans American highway, which in my mind would have been an 8-lane bustling freeway. Nope. Try a 2 lane windy road without any center divide. The drivers are brave (or stupid)... we had an 18-wheeler pass us at 100 kilometers per hour!! Many cars have only one headlight working. I dont think any of them have shocks on their cars. We finally get to the steep,windy DIRT road leading to the resort (we are in a taxi -- a small car). Steve and I are in the back seat with a cooler in between us, he has a box of food on his lap (big box) and towels. When Donna came to town she went shopping, too, so we had to not only load the taxi with our 64-lb luggage, our carryon suitcase, backpack and purse, we had to load it with groceries, too. So all the weight in the car made it impossible to get to the resort. We kept bottoming out. We had less than half a mile to go, but Donna's son came and got us with his 4X4.


It was almost 9pm by this time, and we had been up since 3:30am Panama time (Eastern Standard time). So we ate a quick dinner and went to bed.

Our room is gorgeous, our deck is beautiful, the view is phenomenol, the ladies who work here are so sweet and adorable. I know one of them is named Lupe. They call her Loopy. We walked on the beach this morning (low tide) and Steve is right now sleeping in the hammock as I am on the veranda / porch overlooking the ocean.

The most interesting thing? I am at peace. I am relaxed. This just rocks. I LOVE Panama so far.

Our plan for today? Relax, swim in the pool, maybe try some kayaking. Later we can walk into town (only one restaurant, which Donna didn't recommend, she said it was dirty and the hygiene was an issue), a pool hall / bar, and a mini-mart. But we still want to check it all out, and it is about a mile away.

Other observations... it is HOT here. And humid. It is just changing into "summer" here, and they say they never get rain in the summer in this area of Panama, but yesterday it rained a little, and they received more rain than ever before, these past few weeks.

I can't wait to write more about our adventures tomorrow, and post more pictures.

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

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