Saturday, November 7, 2009

¡Panamá!

Puerto Lindo is on the Caribbean Sea between Portobelo and El Porvenir (on this map).

We left Mérida the morning of September 22nd. After a layover in México City we flew nonstop to Panamá City, landing into an awesome view of the city's skyline at sunset, offering a unique view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at once. We'd booked a hotel in the city in advance online, The Hotel Aramo. It is comforting to arrive with a specific destination, especially a strange city at night. (I've also been known to travel on the fly...without a room or a clue.)


We opted to take the bus into town. We caught an express bus that cost $2.50US. There was another bus we found out about later that cost $.25US. The most popular option is a $30US cab ride. The taxi drivers called out to us that we needed a cab because it wasn't safe to take the bus, but we made it to our hotel on a miraculously direct route in 45 minutes without incident. The hotel was clean, the staff extremely friendly and helpful, there was internet service, and a little restaurant where we were given a continental breakfast the following morning as part of our $37US deal.


If you are heading anywhere considered "outback" in Panamá, which in my opinion would include every province outside Panamá City...the bus schedules often require that you spend a night in town and head out early the next day to make all your connections. The bus routes are plentiful, but complicated, and often services do not run after dark.


In the morning, Pablo schlepped our bags two blocks down a busy avenue to the nearest bus stop, where we boarded a city bus to AlBrook, the main bus terminal. All buses operating in Panamá depart from there. We were northbound to the Caribbean Coast vía the road to Colón. We easily found the Colón Express and within half an hour we were on our way. We had been warned to NOT take the bus all the way into Colón, but "to get off at an intersection with a grocery store called Sabanitas." I had maps, sat by the window, and I tried to see where we were going but the driver was hauling ass and there were no signs. Now and then a sign zoomed by on the other side of the highway, but I couldn't turn around fast enough to catch it. When I saw the first evidence of human habitation; it was a big town. We asked if it was called Sabanitas, our connection stop. It was. From this crucero we had to catch a different bus headed northeast up the coast. The ride hadn't taken as long as I'd anticipated and our ride didn't match the road on the map at all. Anyhow, before the driver flew off toward the danger zone of Colón, we managed to get off the bus with all our belongings. We immediately saw another colorful bus heading to Portobelo and Pablo hailed it. I didn't have time to tell him we were actually looking for a different bus, the Costa Norteña bus, but we were headed off in the right direction. We negotiated a taxi from Portobelo, which was actually a relaxing relief from the hustle of the buses. By noon we pulled into the driveway of Panama Adventures Guest House, met by Annie's smiling face, a hot cup of coffee, and her neighbor/friend.


That afternoon we walked around the fishing village of Puerto Lindo.


We visited the tiendas, the old church, and met some of the local folks.

Then we swam out across the bay for a long snorkel.


That evening we were all contentedly exhausted and just enjoyed sitting on the front porch. We finally made it to Panamá.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Dear Linda,
Your Panamá adventures seem exactly what my doctor has ordered?!
I’m in the process of divorce, a truly terrible, terrifying experience, and after 23 years; desperate.
I would very much like to retrace your steps, any tips?
Yours
Mr Max Alexander Waldron
+27827083151
+27217950570
5 Venus Close, Constantia, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Email: maximussantus@gmail,com