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Is Nothing Normal in Panama

PANAMA | Monday, 27 August 2018 | Views [181]

We woke up a bit late this morning; Tim has a cold and either snored more than normal or I was more sensitive being in a new place. Either way, we got up and enjoyed a couple hours just relaxing in the hotel. We posted the blog and skipped breakfast.

We set out for Casco Viejo, Cinco de Mayo (5 de Mayo). Surprisingly there were many people still getting haircuts in the hunts a long the walk. Additionally, the weekdays attracted many fresh food stalls and people selling the most interesting things; like toothpaste.  

We made our way back to the Marina and arrived to the Mercado de Mariscos, the Panama Fish market. We had walked past it yesterday, but today we adventured in. Today, from the outside it smelled horrible. No wonder the birds were waiting for a little snack. We were very surprised to go in an to find an immaculate market; no smell, very clean and the fish was incredible.

After using the clean, free washrooms, we set out for the Old City: Casco Viejo. The buildings are quite old and quite a dichotomy between ruins and luxury. 

We walked around for a couple hours, really just enjoying the peacefulness of the area. It seemed to be off-season with many shops either closed or completely deserted. The ones that were open were European (french) inspired delis and pastry shops. 

The heat and humidity was really getting to us and although we past many yummy smelling food stalls, we passed them up. I really had to pee and Tim found me a place at a gas station. This 'facility' was of the most 'local' that I have ever had the experience to encounter. Instead of a squatter or normal toilet, it was just a trough. Tim did get a picture, but it is not fit for the internet.

We enjoyed a bustling intersection but failed to snap a picture. The 5 de Mayo area is quite the site, bustling locals going about their day. It was an interest and rewarding experience.

We boarded the Metro and made our way back to the Hotel area. After stopping at the grocery store (Rey) Tim decided to feed the pigeons. There was quite an infestation. 

Tim was set on getting Panamanian food and we had stumbled on a bakery not far from our Hotel. We arrived only to find that is was much more basic; only selling fried Panama snack. That didn’t seem to phase Tim and he scooped up some empanadas, croissants and some sort of samosa style pastry. We ate them in the lobby of our hotel because our room was being cleaned. Tim really enjoyed them; I thought they were marginally good.

It was very hot, so much that I though Tim sat in a puddle; his shorts were soked. We changed, he took a shower, and set off for the pool. The water was still cool, but the sun was scorching. We enjoyed the company of a Jamaican family on vacation from New York City. It wasn't until the weather took a turn for the worse. Tim quickly scooped up our towels in time to not be drenched by the tropical storm. We enjoyed watching the ferocious event from the warmth of the hot tub. 

After the weather drama, I took a hot bath while Tim took a nap. It was a quiet afternoon, we enjoyed just relaxingly in the hotel for a bit.

We woke around 4pm, rested and ready for the next adventure. We set out, not entirely clear where we were going. It was very much Panamanian rush-hour. The streets were full; both with cars and pedestrians. It wasn't long until we ducked into a quite street where we were happy to find many little restaurants and bars. 

We found a comfy spot on the patio of Istmo; a local craft beer pub. The happy hour special was 2 for 1 on beer. Careful, however, Panamanian 2 for 1 is for you, not the table. When we got our bill, we were not happy to have been charged full price for 2 beers ($11). Happily, it was all sorted out when he told us we were entitled to 2 more beers for free. OK.

The rain was incredible, torrential. We sat and enjoyed our second beer not really wanting to leave. Someone beside us got a plate of nachos that look very good. Tim was not convinced after asking how much they were; $17 USD. 

What Tim really wanted, as I alluded to above, was Panamanian food. He guided us to Nikos Cafe, directly across from our grocery store. The way he described it, it seemed like a soup kitchen / cafeteria. He wasn't far off and although the decor is quite basic, the food menu was appetizing and cheap! $2.50-$5. Tim got a pulled pork, beans and rice that was served with green bananas and a chilli sauce and dessert($4.50); I got a less adventurous sub ($2.50). The food was quite impressive and plentiful. He has me convinced to go back.

We retired back to the hotel, drinks in hand and full bellies. Time to relax; it was a full day.


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