PANAMA - Panama City - January 2012

Well it’s been a couple of days since I arrived in Panama and I probably should update the blog.

I made a slight mathematical error when I said I was getting a room in an apartment for $200 for the week, it’s actually $300.  But that is still cheaper than staying in a hotel for 7 days.  This is the first time I’ve stayed in an apartment shared by others.  What we have here are 4 bedrooms, each with a private bathroom and a shared living room and kitchen.  Each bedroom has AC, a TV, desk, chair, and bed.  The reason my price went up is I wanted one with a balcony so I could sit outside.  Anyway, we have daily maid service so it’s basically like a hotel.
While I did buy some breakfast stuff I still go out to eat a least lunch or dinner daily and have yet to spend more than $10 for a meal.  I usually eat a decent breakfast, skip lunch, and then eat dinner between 4 and 5 pm.   Wait, I did eat breakfast at McDonalds the other day.

On Sunday I ate at a corner restaurant called “Restaurante y Cafetería Del Prado” which is on Via Argentina.  The food was good and there was plenty of it.  I ate here before (Feb 2011) and since it was first day, I figured I’d hit someplace I knew.

As for today I had brunch at a placed called Manolo on Via Argentina and dinner at an Italian place called Mananello.   When I walked into Mananellos the owner was chatting with his friend and got up to greet me at the door.  I didn’t even sit down, I just walked with him to the counter looked at the menu and order a pizza.  While he was telling the cook, I made myself at home, went to the cooler and grabbed a beer.  The friend looked up and said the mugs are in the next cooler.  As you can tell, it was a relaxing place.

The plan is to go to the Metropolitan Park, which is located partially within the city limits of Panama City tomorrow about 6 am.  Yes you lazy bastards, 6 am.  I’m not on vacation down here, I’m livin life and sometimes that means I have to get up early to catch the worm.  Anyway I hope to get some good pix and I’ll post at least some of them.  So until then c-ya.

12 January 2012

So I went to the Metropolitan Park today expecting to see exotic birds and monkeys.  Hell that is what everybody I talked to said I would see, so I believed them; nope, not a stinking one.   I went with an older couple that is staying in one of the rooms here in the apartment and we had a pretty good time.  They live in the DC area now, but they are from Russia.  In addition to English and their native language, she spoke German and he spoke French, but neither spoke Spanish.  Hence, I translated for them speaking to the taxi drivers, the park agents, and other hikers.   The three of us walking through a foreign park conjured up some crazy ass stories, that I won't go into now.  I did want to see the park though, but now I know why we didn’t see any exotic birds or monkeys, there was entirely too much talking going on.  If I were an animal I would hide too.  We did see some birds, some butterflies, turtles, and a ground hog (the big rat looking thing).

Sign to entrance of Metropolitan Park - Click for more photos

Ground hog - Click for more photos
13 January 2012

Well today was pretty slow because I spent most of the day doing my on-line course to get certified to teach English as a Second Language (ESL).  I completed the basic certification but now I’m working on endorsements for grammar, to teach young people, and to teach business people.  I figured since I may want to live overseas, why not teach English at the same time I learn the local language.  Hell, who knows, I might even get paid to teach English.  Anyway, I’ve been working on that and hope to finish it within the next couple of weeks.
But now tonight, it started out slow, with the apartment manager (good looking Columbia) and I sitting on my balcony chatting and all of a sudden we heard a bunch of yelling.  We looked down to the street and the Panamanian National Police had a couple of guys up against the wall.  One guy would not listen as he was repeatedly told to put his hands on his head, then one cop through him to the ground.  The other cop pulled his pistol and drew down.  The other “suspect” stood there and didn’t move, probably for fear of being shot.  Finally suspect number one complied and the cops put suspect number two on the ground and waited for a transport vehicle.  At one time we could hear one of the suspects crying like a lost child.  Again, I think it was a fear of being shot.  But no shots fired, two suspects apprehended, cuffed, and hauled off to who knows where.  From my experience with Latin American police, they were lucky to have been able to walk to the transport vehicle.  I’ve seen guys beat down by the cops and dragged to the transport vehicle.

So, other than that, it was another quiet, sunny, hot, and enjoyable day here in Panama.

14 - 21 January 2012

While I’ve been house sitting here in Panama City, Panama, I’ve also done a lot of hiking on Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill).  It’s the highest natural peak within Panama City and it’s not really published as a tourist attraction.  The area was held by the US as part of the Panama Canal and in 1977 Cerro Ancon was returned to the Panamanians as through the Panama Canal Treaty.  Since it was in the possession of the US for most of the 20th century, the Ancon area escaped much of the modernization and construction of Panama City.  Thus, it’s a little jungle oasis on the northeast end of Panama City.  Around the base of the hill and surrounding slopes, there are numerous single family houses and a couple of bed and breakfast establishments.  But overall, it is a quiet area.

I’ve walked the hill at least five times and have seen some spectacular views of Panama City and the surrounding area.   I’ve seen a sloth, some monkeys, several species of birds to include a Toucan, but it escaped my camera.  The walk from the base of the hill in the Quarry Heights area takes about 30 minutes to walk up, and that is at a leisurely pace.  You will walk up a single lane paved road used mostly by taxis with a few tourism vehicles as well.  Vehicles driving up or down the hill are not permitted to stop at the several photo spots so walking will provide you more photo opportunities.  There are plenty of benches along the road to sit and watch the wildlife or simply rest.  The one thing I would strongly recommend is, if you do elect to walk, take water.  While there are a few vendors on top of the hill, none of them sell water.
Casco Viejo


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