Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chilibre to Panama City to Sona by bus - an all day event

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Oh my - even with a trolley bag and day pack each I am loaded up.
Our German friend Anna is also moving on with her heavy bag.
We struggle down the steep driveway and catch a taxi for $2 to the bus in Chilbre.
Local buses are old decorated school buses in Panama.
We stand in the dust and wait to the toots and leers of the drivers going by.
A bus comes and we put our luggage in the back door.
I burn my arm on the exhaust upward pipe by the door.
We are packed in like standing sardines.

About 30 minutes of torture wearing the 2 days packs takes us into the terminal.

I am thankful for Anna as she helps us buy or ticket.
It costs ten cents each to exit the terminal to where the buses are parked.
But to buy the card you need a passport - and Spanish.
 Our other friend already did this for us last time we visited Panama City.
Thank goodness.
I add credit to the card.
It costs me ten cents to put the luggage on the bus and then go back to the waiting room.
I pop books on the seats so we can sit together.
Most are already reserved.
There is no toilet on the bus - so we quickly pay a quarter and go inside.

The bus takes off.
2 or 3 hours later we stop.
The music is loud - I find it annoying.
It is a continual thump - thump.
The oldies just seem to put up with it.
You get a choice as time is limited.
Food or the toilet.
I choose the toilet!
I go to buy food and the bus beckons us back - darn no lunch.
At least we have snacks.

We have to stop in Santiago.
Fortunately we have a direct bus - apparently this is not always the case.
Santiago to Sona is the worst part.
He puts on a DVD and it is some DJ who repeats this line in Spanish.
For over 1 hour.
Yipes - it is so irritating!!
We get to Sona about 6 pm.

We are so pleased Anna has organised for us to go to stay at Cabanas Sherlley
where she has stayed previously, and it is all arranged with the owner.

Sherlley collects us with a hug and kiss like we are old friends.
She drives us to a local cafe for dinner.
She is Panamanian, but lived in USA for 30 years, and is married to an American.

Then she even lets us stay at her home.
She is still building it, and hoping to turn it into a hotel or hostel later on.
It is huge, and based on a square open centre.

We awaken to roosters crowing.

Sherlley takes us back to the cafe for breakfast.
I have no idea what Panamanian food to order.
Tortillas here are small round corn cakes the size of a biscuit. 
They are bland.  They come with friend plantain - a banana like food.
My son is NOT impressed - oh well - he will adapt if he is hungry I tell myself.
the President is spending a LOT of money on doing up the roads.
Apparently this road has been a dust pit for over a year.
The sewers were laid and then they had to wait to see if they worked.
There are trucks and mess everywhere.
For now - it is not a pretty town.
But f you visit - head back a couple of streets.
There are quaint market stalls - away from the dust.
We only buy fruit there, I can't carry any more stuff!

Sherlley takes us to the supermarket where we stock up on food.
We have a kitchenette where we are going and it is a tourist resort, 
so not many cheap places to each out. 

She then takes us around town to see Sona.
I love this little square with the church.
She tells us how they used to all go to the church on Sundays, 
then come and play in the square when she was a small child.

Opposite the square is his birth family home of H.E. Ricardo Martinelli 
- the current President of Panama. 

This area has a number of lovely old homes.
I get the real feel of Panama now, and feel excited. 

We let out a big hooray!
It is 12 noon... then next day and we finally drive off to Santa Catalina.
Sherlley is as thrilled as we are!

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