Monday, 11 May 2015

A City Divided - Week 2.5 Update

Two and half weeks! I can't believe that's all it's been. That's barely enough time for everyone back home to miss me and realise how much of a light I was in their life.

But the biggest step in our journey, leaving the family behind and setting off just myself and Kim into the depths of the unknown.

After 3 flights, 24 hours, naps in both Miami and Trinidad airport and Kim trying desperately and successfully not to flare up her travel sickness we arrived in Panama. For a country that we don't know much about, didn't speak the language and we're a bit green on getting ourselves around, I had decided to book a hotel (the only one offering free airport transfer). The hotel had some pretty sketchy reviews on reliability of the transport and the quality of the clientele, with prostitutes being a common sight. But it had a free airport transfer! So what could really go wrong!

Nice from far, but far from nice!!
Panama City's New Town
Well after waiting for over 45 minutes for our car/bus/whatever the hell was picking us up, we were getting a bit dubious as to whether we would just have to fork out the $30 for a taxi. But eventually, after a few laps of the waiting area our lift did eventually arrive; he had apparently been there for over an hour and a half but had to park the car. Thankfully, he spoke very good English and pointed out all the main areas of Panama's 'new town' as we were driving along; these are pretty easy to identify as all the main areas seem to be the locations of the tallest buildings.... Hard Rock Hotel, Trump Tower, A Bank, Another Bank, A Third Bank that swirled into the sky. As we turned into the road for the hotel it seemed at least half the reviews had been correct, trying to wave us down was a scantily clad, tanned leggy woman, with a skirt so short i'm not sure it would of even needed to be hoisted up to do the dirty deed!

After navigating checking in, when the receptionist didn't speak English, (how dare they,) we worked our way up to our room; with a bit of effort we entered to what looked a bit like a seedy motel room, complete with TV with 3 out of the 30 channels showing 24 hour free porn. But at least it was in English unlike most of the other 27 channels (I think it was at least? Can you orgasm in spanish?). Each night we got a visit from a rather friendly gecko that waltzed in through our window that couldn't close and left through our bathroom ..... somewhere. But we only had two nights to spend here then we're were off gallivanting on our Yacht.

Looking out from Panama's Old Town
With our one day in Panama we decided to explore the 'old town', as in general old stuff quite often looks nicer than the new stuff, an early morning rise (10am) we braved the short walk in 35 degree humid heat to arrive in old town. A rather gorgeous looking area with brick paved road (that bit's important) and old colonial buildings; some in greater disrepair than others. An enjoyable walk around, taking in the few battered churches and things you might expect in an area like this led us to start exploring a bit further. We reached the point all the fancy brick paving ended and carried on going, we found an open area'd plaza where we suddenly realised we stuck out a bit more than we did half an hour ago, without a pale skinned person in sight. But we brushed it off and decided to carry on exploring, a left here, a right there, this area definitely didn't have the same colonial half renovated feel of where we had come from.

Wandering around in our own little world we we're approached by a large smiling man with a total of about 2 teeth, he shook my hand and gripped it hard, then whilst still remaining jovial warned us to turn back the way we came. Only once he was sure we had fully understood his warning of it being unsafe further on did he release me, to let us continue our exploring (in the other direction).

After another hour of wandering in places we probably weren't supposed to be in we made it back to the bricked road, which we were later told tourists shouldn't leave (woops!), we stopped for a quick slush puppy at an internet Cafe. And this is where are enjoyable wandering turned sour. An email from the boat, they cancelled our trip, 36 hours before it was due to depart! It was the 9th, the trips took 5 days and we had to be in Colombia on the 17th to meet Sophie, so to be there on time we needed to find a boat that left in the next three days! Thank god it's low season! Several emails and a lot of chasing around to find companies that do it and struggling with rubbish internet we had another boat booked up for the 12th. But we then had two extra days in a city we had barely intended to stop over in.
Our spacious first night in a well cleaned dorm room :p

Not sure we could stand more trips from the gecko we migrated to Luna's Castle, if we thought the walk to old town in the heat was uncomfortable, add on 10kg backpacks and we arrived at the hostel dripping wet and red in the face looking more like a bloated puffer fish than our usual gorgeous selves. It was our first proper hostel experience, complete with ping pong table, tiered cushioned movie theatre, pancake breakfasts and 8 other people in your room. In Kim's case it also came with someone sleeping in her designated bed (which got us a nights money back).

Red Devil Bus, probably named for their skill
terrorising the roads.
With our last day we visited the 'new town'. Well the less said about that the better really, for all of the old town's charm, atmosphere and individuality, the new town was devoid of character. People moved from A to B on busy roads, buses honked and swerved across lanes. But the streets felt lifeless, without anything too it. There was so little to it in nature (not in size) that we completely forgot to take any photo's and other than just saying, it was sh*t, I am struggling to describe it ..... so I won't any further.

Wow these posts are getting longer and longer, so well done if you have managed to get this far. Tomorrow's the boat trip, so that'll be the next post in a week or so :)

Hasta luego mis amigos!

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