Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The old City of Panama is lovely to visit by day - not to stay at night

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This is going to be a long blog.
Make yourself a drink and sit down and enjoy the read.

We leave our VERY NOISY Hostel Hospedaje Casco Viejo.
I have never stayed at a noisier place.
The room was cheap enough, but it was like a little jail cell.

It is clean, but has no windows and has an open louvre right to the main reception area.

The owner is lovely and recommends us to his other hostel.
So we wander 2 blocks around up past Villa Agostina - with great artwork.
The whole area is being restored.
It is a mix of quaint and crumby.

We head to the nearby square.
This picture is taken from our balcony of our new room.
We love the outlook.
We are told to come back in 2 hours when it is ready.

So we wander around the streets and find a cute store.
There masks are incredible.
We have agreed to cut down our spending.
But the Kuna who make these work at them for about $1 an hour.
So when a mask is $45, that 45 hours.
Not much of an income.
So needless to say, I now regret not buying these masks.
But we would have to send them back to Australia.

You can see the Kuna ladies in the back of this picture.

We take a walk along the old city wall.
The new city is in the distance.

We then head to market stalls.
It is a really pretty area.
And it is a week day so it is super quiet.

My son's birthday is in March, and he wants a hammock.
So after many visits to many stores, he finally selects a double hammock.
We will pop this away for next month.

He then adds a musical clay pipe to his birthday collection.

We wander around trying to get an iced chocolate.
Now this area is modernised, the prices are crazy.

We do love the old buildings.
There is a leg hanging off the balcony!

We wander back and hope our room is ready

My son delights in the return veranda balcony we have there.

You can see him up on our balcony.
This hostel - Panamerican is way better.
We get a large private room and en suite.
The water is hot - yeah - the first real hot shower we have had in weeks.
It is clean and it includes breakfast for $39 a night.
Let's see how quiet it will be tonight.

It is a great area in the way of atmosphere.
We watch the kids play soccer next door.

The modern lounge area is really nice.
We meet a heap of lovely travellers here.
We all exchange cards and emails so we can hook up for travel tips.

Alas - later as night comes and our windows open to this atrium.
There are two - with tables.
People decide to party at the base area.
It echoes upward.
It is getting noisy.
Earlier we had a nice time on the roof.
We can see the Panama Canal new area that is being made in the distance.

The opposite roof area has a nice bar.
But this is closed in February as Panama Carnival is on.
Party people drink and do crazy things - so there are no drinks tonight.

It has a great outlook all the way to the new city.

We end up taking our dinner up here.
We find a few people bring their own drinks and there is a table of complete drunks.

Inside our room we hear the trucks still going crazy in the street outside as they
fix the roads.  The party people run around slamming doors.
The drunks decide to stand outside our door screaming.

So much for peace and quiet.
By 2 a.m. my son is crying himself silly.
The noise in this place is terrible.
Next morning we meet a lady who is like us.
She has had no sleep and can't believe the noise.
She has changed her plane ticket to leave.
Panama is just not a quiet place.
We decide to check out and head back to the hills where we have left our bags.

We spend the morning doing school work.
I pack the bags and we head out for one last time in the old city.

We love the alfresco area of town.

However, we really don't love the prices, so we just stick to iced milk drinks.

We have to take the local buses back.
Seeing I have only taken it back one time I am really nervous.
I am tired, and I have to handle all the bags on public transport.
This is one of the times traveling is not fun.
I really am so worn out.

We do manage to find the right bus.
It is about a 45 minute wait.
Inside it is decorated with fur and the music blasts.
This is all the driver gets to see through the front window.

It is another 45 minute journey through the jungle area.
We barely get to stop the bus in time.
Madly we have our bags taken off and I pay.
I get my son to hold the front door open whilst I grab all the bags out of the back.
I am so scared the bus will leave before we have everything off.
On signal he can release his hold on the door of the bus and off it shoots.

We grab a taxi and throw the bags in the back of the truck.
We strike a deal.
Next thing there are more people getting in.

We are going the wrong way!
He tells us this is OK in Spanish and I kinda figure it will all work out.
I am too tired to care.

We get back to the base - finally.
We discover we have arrived on a great day.
They have had no gas or water for days.
The water truck has just given them a small top up.

I madly make a dash for the shower and take an army style 1 minute wash.

I am so happy to be back.
It kind of feels like home.
My son knows people and it is safe.
I can relax.

When I stayed here last I thought it was noisy.
Now I think it is quiet compared to where we have been.

I fall asleep easily.
I am so very grateful to be here!

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