The roosters have me trained. I’m up just before 6 a.m. I suppose this isn’t such a bad thing to carry over when I get home. I’m already planning how I’m going to lose all this Panama flab and I think getting up at the crack of dawn to workout is going to work out. 🙂
We enjoyed a lovely homemade-by-Angelina breakfast of yogurt (yes, homemade -mmm!,) fresh fruit, banana pancakes and scrambled eggs. Everything was so tasty and Angelina was obviously concerned about fulfilling our every breakfast wish. Awesome!
When we told Angelina that we wanted to visit Panama La Vieja today, she was so kind and offered us her prepaid bus pass and explained how to take a bus there. A bus! We’ve not taken a bus yet, so we’re looking forward to this adventure! The boys made sure that we’re NOT taking a Red Devil bus. No we’re not. I explained in a previous post that the Red Devil’s are dangerous, but it wasn’t until today that I knew exactly why. It’s not only because of the people that ride them, but the drivers are often kids who don’t even have their drivers’ license! The reason people take them versus the metro, I can’t imagine why. The metro costs $.25!!!
Waiting at the bus stop where buses don’t come.
While we waited at the wrong bus stop for Panama la Vieja, we observed a couple of interesting things:
Exceptionally strong-looking soccer guy sign.
“Corndog tree” (our name for it) That thing is the size of 5 corndogs!
Bus ride to Panama La Vieja
Twenty minutes passed when we realized that perhaps we misunderstood where Angelina told us to wait. We walked a couple more streets down to the main thoroughfare and found a bus stop full of people. This must be it. This is a very active bus line. The buses just keep coming, one after the other. The 5th bus read “Panama la Vieja.” This is our bus.
The bus was so crammed, that I had to stand in front of the safety line, with little to hold onto. The bright side? Front row picture taking opportunity!
Panama la Vieja
A little explanation of Panama la Vieja from the Moon Handbooks: Panama:
Founded nearly 500 years ago, this original Panama City was the first Spanish city on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Its stone ruins transport you back to the time of gold-hungry conquistadors and pillaging buccaneers.
We started at the small museum which tells the history of Panama la Vieja. Unfortunately, it’s nearly all in Spanish. The artifacts were cool, though. Clay pots, plates, coins, jewelry… even bones have been excavated in the last 40 years or so.
After the museum, we scored a couple of hats that the boys fell in love with. Now we’re sure to stand out as tourists. The large backpack doesn’t help either.
My favorite feature about the Panama la Vieja ruins is that they’re located smack dab in the middle of the city, surrounded by skyscrapers.
Picking up pretty flowers on the road.
The cathedral tower is still under renovation, but you can climb the stairs to the top.
View of Panama City from the top floor of the cathedral tower.
So many sights – too many to see them all on this hot day.
As we exited the Panama la Vieja ruins, looking for a bus stop, we began to realize why we had been warned not to wander too far from the main historical area. The surrounding neighborhood is full of crime and gangs. We certainly gained even more insight as we rode the bus out of that area on our way toward the Multiplaza shopping mall.
We made it to the Multiplaza which is one of the largest malls in Central America. We’re ready to cool off in an air-conditioned building and grab some lunch!
Karter was so exhausted, that as soon as he finished eating, he fell asleep on Kristian’s lap under the table.
One of the reasons we went to the mall in the first place was to compare pricing to the states. We kept hearing that virtually everything was less expensive in Panama, but as it turns out, prices were similar if not more expensive than they are at the malls here. No deals to be found. Boo.
Something else I noticed about the malls is that they don’t have department stores. For all the brands that you would find at a department store; Tommy Hilfiger, Reef, Hurley, Columbia, to name a few, each has their own store here. I know that’s common in the states, but there were many stores that I’ve never seen on their own before.
This mall was classy and I felt like I was back in my stomping grounds in Bellevue, Washington. It had that upscale, snooty vibe… which I happen to like… sometimes.
We shopped until we dropped, but found nothing that we needed to have. And with that, we hit up the grocery store that was attached to the mall for some dinner-ish foods: 2 rotisserie half chickens and a carrot. One carrot. One very, large carrot (which is pretty standard here.)
With our groceries, we tried to go home the way we came: on the bus. But alas, the drivers said that the buses wouldn’t be going where we needed to be dropped off. We were pretty sure they didn’t know what they were saying since we did get here by bus afterall, but since our food was warm, we decided to take a quicker cab instead.
Before coming to Panama, I maybe had taken 3 cabs in my lifetime. Now I feel I’m a pro and I’m actually relieved that we’re in an erratic cab drivers’ car versus the bus. Weird.
And that was our day! We go home tomorrow, and boy, am I ready!