Every vacation has to have a low point and yesterday was mine. It was marked with lots of waiting and frustration at waiting. In the end my cousin Sergio salvaged the day. I really love that guy and I know if we lived in the same city we would have lots of fun hanging out.
In the morning I got my Panamanian passport. My Dad pulled some strings so that we wouldn't have to wait in line. I still ended up waiting because he disappeared behind some closed doors to visit with friends. As a lawyer and a politician he is very social. So I waited.
Then he was getting ready to take me back to the hotel with no answer to what the plan was for the rest of the day. He said he had to go to work and he would call. We finally got a hold of my cousin who also said he would call me later. I convinced my dad to drop me off at a mola shop I needed to go to. After shopping I caught a cab ($2!) back to my hotel. And waited. And waited. And was frustrated. I also started making plans about what to do if no one called or if no plans could be made for the day or if no plans were offered up for my last day. But without a cell phone you have to wait where the phone is for phone calls. What a life changer cell phones are!
It was about three hours before I heard something and I was upset. Mostly at the situation and the waiting and not one particular person. My dad is older and he is from a different culture. The Latin culture is very laid back and I am not a laid back person. I should have planned and researched more than I did (zero). As I mentioned in a previous post I do not like when I have to rely on others yet I came to this trip completely expecting to rely on others. That's my fault.
But the afternoon was saved by my cousin who came straight from work to pick me up. We went to Panama Viejo. Established in 1519 this was the site of the first settlement on the Pacific Ocean. In 1670 Henry Morgan burned Panama Viejo to the ground. All that is left is a scattering of stone ruins. Most of the city was made of wood but the religious structures like the cathedral tower, nunnery and seminary were in stone and parts of them still stand. The part of the park with the cathedral was closed but my cousin and I wandered around the rest of the space talking about early Panamanian history. It is amazing to think of what the city must have looked like in the 1500s when it was just being built and to think of the patience and determination it took to build those stone structures. Panama Viejo is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was overcast which really brings out the green in the trees and leaves and it was very peaceful.
After Panama Viejo Sergio took me to see his house. I saw the outside last time I was here but I didn't even recognize it when we pulled up. He and his wife recently finished a 6 month renovation. They basically gutted the house and reconfigured the interior lay out. There is a huge wall in front now which blocks the house from the street. But the best part was the backyard. The house is on top of a hill and after tearing down some trees he has the most amazing view of the city skyline. It is the kind of view that the wealthy people pay for with the city stretching out over the horizon. They still have to finish up some construction and furnish the house but I am super proud of the work he did. Especially because they had the discipline to save money from the instant they got married waiting for this day. Did I mention the view is spectacular?
So we are at the last day and I admit I am a little glad. This has been harder in some ways than I thought it would be. Honestly I didn't give it any thought before I came which is part of the problem. I'm also tired of eating in the hotel restaurant, I miss my bed and I'm ready to be home. Part of me thinks that five days is my travel limit. I hate to think that because I want to take grand trips to Greece and London and Australia. When a bag of money falls from the sky then I'll have to deal with that issue.
But one more day. My oldest brother is supposed to pick me up and take me around. He is a specialist in Panamanian culture so I am hoping he will point out some interesting things. I think we are going back to Casco Viejo which I visited last time and loved (also a UNESCO World Heritage site ..... that's three!). And I think I will be meeting another one of the brothers that I didn't meet last time. So hopefully today is full. And if not I now know lots more about taxis!