We are already out of Panama City and have settled into Boquete for a few days. First I will tell you a little about our experience in the "lovely" Panama City. I put lovely in quotes because it was definitely not lovely in our book. Imagine the feeling of hot humidity kind of what its like in the Cities right now, but with tons and tons of people, traffic, honking, club music blaring and random people shouting in the streets. That pretty much sums up what it was like there. Our hotel was in the Casco Viejo neighborhood, old town. The travel book said this was a good place to stay because it has character and lots of restaurants etc.. We never found all the restaurants, but parts of it did have character. It reminded us of New Orleans, with the buildings having similar architecture.
Our first day in Panama City we wanted to go to the Canal of course. We turned left when leaving our hotel with the plan to walk a little until we could hail a cab. After about 2 blocks, a local man popped his head out of his store and gave us a strange look, then suddenly another local man waved his arms erratically at us and came running across the street yelling "muy peligroso para ti, zone rosa", in English meaning very dangerous for you, red zone. We were inadvertently wandering into a dangerous slum area of the city where it is very dangerous for gringos. Then, 2 tourist police descended upon us out of nowhere. They instructed us that we should not go that way and they helped us hail a cab. After this potentially dangerous adventure, we made our way safely to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. There was a visitor center there where we were able to watch a ship go through the locks. I was fascinated with the enormity of this great engineering feat. The country of Panama has a very diverse population, mainly due to the many people from different countries that cam to work on the canal in the early 1900's. A large % of the workers were from Barbados. They are currently widening the canal in 2 different places to allow for bigger ships and more cargo to pass through. This project is slated to be completed by 2014, exactly 100 years from the original completion. Just a few fun facts!
We had enough of Panama City after just one full day and caught a bus out yesterday. It took about 8 hours to get to Boquete. 7 hours were on a very comfortable, air conditioned bus (it kind of smelled bad though). When we arrived in a town called David we had to catch a bus to Boquete which was about an hour from David. This is where the bus situation took a turn for the worse. It was an orange school bus, not air conditioned, and stuffed to 3 people per seat. Ugh!! Good thing this was only an hour ride. Also it only cost $1.75! Guess you get what you pay for!
Boquete is a small mountain town with much cooler temperatures. We actually had to put our coats on last night. It feels so great after the stifling heat in Panama City! We started a long hike up Volcan Baru this morning, but were forced to turn back after a couple hours due to torrential downpours. It gets a lot colder the higher you go and we were drenched. We decided to call it quits and head back to town. Had our breakfast for lunch at our B & B and are now taking a little siesta.
Until next time, adios!