More farewells….

Today is Nathan and Donna’s last day before they head off
to Bocas del Torro for 3 weeks surfing. We might actually see them
there as that’s where we’re thinking of doing our Spanish course
after we’ve spent the 10 days with Bob and Elaine. Best to assume
not though just in case and plan today accordingly. Fit as much
stuff in as we can :0) We all start with an 0830 brekkie then set
out for the promenade to walk along the front to Casco Viejo. On
the way we try to track down an Indian restaurant (we all fancied
curry for dinner) but have no joy. The promenade isn’t quite as
busy as it was yesterday, but still as hot and sticky. How the
locals manage to run in this is beyond us. At the edge of the old
town we come across the fish market which happens to be open so we
wander in for a look around. It’s still a holiday and there is more
fresh fish than we expected to see. Further along we find the fruit
market and meat markets. These are both pretty empty but we can
imagine how busy they’ll be tomorrow. Really old looking buildings
with antiquated tools and stalls. A rar find indeed. The old town
(Casco Viejo) is pretty run down initially and we can imagine why
the guidebooks suggest staying away. We’re all actually fascinated
(again it being a holiday still, everywhere is pretty deserted) by
the old dilapidated buildings and the people we pass. The stark
contrast between this side of town and the skyscrapers across the
bay. It’s hard to take in. We do eventually find an old bar and
stop for a wee beer – a bit early we know but hey ho. It’s still on
the rougher pert of the town and yet our beers are three times the
price they are in the part of town we’re staying in. Madness. Its
just after this shock that we come across the droves of tourists.
Our pleasant walk suddenly turns into a bit of a chore and we all
feel a bit put out. We quickly change our route and get back into
the grimy side and relax again, just as the heavens open. Local
cafeteria or mc’donald’s??!! Hhmm hard choice, not! For a mere $2 a
plate we all fill our tummies and set off in search of a taxi for
our afternoon adventure – to the Panama Canal itself, specifically
Mira del Flores locks. This is very busy and we have to queue for a
while to get in but it’s worth the wait. The viewing platform at
the top where you can watch the big boats come through the locks
was pretty amazing. Added to that the first boat we see is called
“BW NICE”, how spooky!!! There’s quite an interactive exhibition
here too. Quite awe inspiring. We have to keep pinching ourselves
that we are actually here, actually in Panama, actually standing on
the side of the canal!!! Panama is a great place. We all really
like it. It’s really friendly and a bit edgy. Where our hostel is,
is slap bang in the middle. It’s kinda like being in Shoreditch or
maybe even Tower Hamlets. Easterhouse if you’re Scottish and don’t
know these places! :0) the only hiccup we’ve had has been in the
tourist areas. Trying to get a taxi back from the canal in fact.
They all wanted to charge us double what we’d paid to get there.
Understandable but rubbish all the same. Arriving back at the
hostel late afternoon with rum and beer supplies (hair of the dog
and farewell necessities you understand) we all went for a swim and
had a few small measures before heading out for a nice meal in
town. It still wasn’t that busy in the area we went to, (more
homework required we think) so after dinner we returned to the
rooftop to keep the rum company.

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