After a rather frustrating search for our B&B Hotel at the pacific coast we ended up going to Panama City on Saturday. Arrived at the Panama House Hostel late afternoon and were lucky to find it, because there was no sign anywhere.
It’s a cozy clean Hostel right in downtown Panama City, and quite affordable.
Sunday we took a walking tour through the high-rise area but also escaped the heat and humidity by going into Malls of various sizes and shapes. It almost felt like a reverse culture shock, after seeing the general poverty throughout the previous Central American countries. Looking at stores like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Prada and Rolex really turned me off!! Obviously there’s a lot of money here in the City! Late afternoon our Equadorian friends Mario and Jorge, who we met on the Baja ferry arrived to our Hostel and we had a nice supper together.
On Monday we managed to take the subway (ha,ha there’s only one line so you really can’t get lost!) out to Casco Antiguo, which is the old Panama City. It was founded in 1673 with this location being more defensible than the original city on the other side of the bay, which was sacked and plundered by the English pirate Henry Morgan.
Over the past decade, having been declared a World Heritage Site, it has experienced a dramatic rebirth. Many buildings have been restored to their colonial glory, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
It was nice to “bathe” in a bit of history again! We walked around, took a lot of pictures and almost hurried back to the Hostel when we both were drenched in sweat. The humidity is really extreme!
That’s when we are thankful for a room with air-conditioning.
Today we wanted to check out the Panama Canal. Mario and Jorge joined us so we took the subway again and from the end station we took a cab to the Miraflores Locks. Good thing we had Mario, who is a smooth talker and negotiated the cab fare for us!
When we arrived at the locks, we just saw an old US Navy vessel leaving the locks towards the Atlantic, then they announced that the next Container Ships would be coming at 2:00pm, which was in 3 hours.
So the morning is for ships from Pacific to Atlantic and the afternoon is the other way. We all didn’t want to miss the complete procedure, so we decided to hang around until then. There’s lots of other things to see, a Museum, short movie etc. There are new locks being build right now with improved technology and to accommodate larger ships.
It was quite fascinating to then watch 2 big container ships squeezing through the locks with only inches to spare on either side. Little electric locomotives on either side connected with steel cables to the ships make sure the ships don’t bump into the sides. To me it was well worth the wait.
So, tonight a bunch of more riders have arrived here at the Hostel, who will take the Stahlratte with us tomorrow. We’ll all go out for dinner (and talk bikes!) and get to know each other before we spend a couple of days on a ship together.(Feels like “survivor” series starting?)
For the next 4 days we will definitely not have any WiFi and then we’ll start a new chapter in South America!! Yeah!