Sunday, October 18, 2009

Panama City - September 24

Wow can you believe it I am in Panama!!

Again another place I never thought I would ever see and I am here! We drop anchor in Fuerto Amador which is just outside Panama City. Tenders are in order here, our first and only port for tenders. Now tenders are not my favorite thing but are sometimes a necessity.

Someone from our Cruise Critic group arranged for us to have priority tender tickets so we all met in the Wheelhouse bar and were given tender stickers for the CC group. Note if you did not have a tour booked thru Princess the tenders did not start before 9:30.

You board the tender and you are hit with the humidity. I am sweating even before we land at the pier. Here is to praying that the bus has air conditioning.

We are greeted by these beautiful dancers at the pier.

I had arranged a group tour thru Friends of Mario for a city tour. The tour in total cost only $30 and we had enough people interested that we had two buses that accommodated around 17 people.

Rose loves to sew and here is a beautiful sculpture of a seamstress.

Karin and Rose at a gallery

A rooster at the top representing the contribution to Panama City from the French

Panamanian Woman and her baby.

Molas -- the beautiful embroidery, very colourful

Bernie and John admire the artwork

The city in the background

So appropriate with this heat

Beautiful architecture

The new modern city

We visit the President's residence and just past the security scanner we see two herons, we find out that they were gifts to the country and that they roam free.

One comes out to say hi to us

I can't get over how beautiful the buildings are

One thing I notice is that the locals don't look like just one type of person. Panama is made up of so many cultures. This arose from all the workers who came from all over the world to help build the canal. It is a beautiful city and the people make it so. However you certainly notice the difference in classes and the division seems very wide and very noticeable.

These are their transit buses, very colourful

The old mixes with the new

We drive about 2 kilometers from the city to what is left of the original Panama City but there is not much still standing. Old stone walls and tower ruins is all that remains, but there are interesting features in the stonework and development work on the site has seen signboards put up offering explanations of each area. Currently you can walk around some of the site with no fee, but there are plans to charge for the whole place in the future.

At this point many people on the tour are tired and very hot. The guides ask us, to choose and we divide up between who wants to go back to the ship and who wants to go for lunch. We choose the lunch. We are driven to a local restaurant that is very close to the Canal headquarters. It is cafeteria style and is packed with locals. Both Bernie and I eat a meal with beverage for $12.78. Can't be beat!

This is the pier at Fuerto Amado. There isn't a lot here, a bar, restaurant, duty free, a few small shops and that is it. If you really want to see the city you need to go into town for a minimal cost.

Our beautiful ship from the tender.
Tonight we just drop anchor a distance away from the city (enough to open up the casinos) and hang out for the night until our time comes in the morning to proceed to transit the canal. It feels weird, I have never spent the night anchored, I have always travelled. It is even weirder leaving the drapes in the cabin open an looking out at the bright lights of Panama City.
Tomorrow the Canal.

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