Using the Uber App, which is a map with so much more, you name your destination, an Uber driver responds with a price (less than a taxi), and once you accept, you follow the driver on the map as he approaches. No money exchanges hands; it's automatically put onto your credit card -- no tipping. Arriving at Miraflores, we purchased entrance for US$15 each to learn about the Panama Canal and of course view the ships going through the locks. The huge container vessel behind the orange LNG tanker quite possibly paid $1, 000, 000 to transit through the new lock.
The place was lively, filled with locals both inside and outside on the veranda. We ordered a few tapas and a jug of sangria and settled into our small table taking in the atmosphere. At 10 pm, a six-piece band arrived and nearly knocked the roof off with the volume. People began salsa dancing around the tables just about wherever they could find space. The noise was too painful for our ears, so we took our exit and ordered an Uber. Nearly at our condo, the Uber and a taxi collided. Nobody was hurt, however, that ended our journey home. We smiled sympathetically to the driver and walked the rest of the way. Later the Uber driver refunded our ride and sent a series of apology texts.
We took an Uber to Carnival after dinner and barely got in because we didn't have our passports. We offered our driver's licence identification, which was accepted, but Brit was told that she would not get in tomorrow if she tried again without her passport. They had to confiscate the pen from my purse, as I guess it can substitute as a weapon. Since it was only 8 pm and DAY 1 at the carnival, we didn't see any of the floats or potential queens. Crowning the queen is a big carnival event. March 5 -- Panama VeijoCon and I set off early to Panama Veijo, once the earliest European settlement on the Pacific Ocean and once the capital of Panama. It was a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of Panama City and only a few minutes by Uber.
Che Guevara actually ate there. From there, we walked the liveliest street in Panama City where you can find the best (most affordable buys) and a more authentic side to Panama City. The Kuna women pictured are the indigenous people of Panama and Columbia. Most of the Kuna people live on the San Blas islands on the Caribbean side of Panama. It's hard to see in the photo, but the women wear a million or so sewn beads on their legs like socks, and arms like sleeves. When they marry, the man moves in with the woman and takes on her last name. From our balcony, we can see small dots in the ocean near the shore, those dots are Kona men fishing in their hand-made canoes.
We drove through on our way to the marina nearby. The sixteen kilometres of protected land includes the water reserves of (Gatun Lake) which feeds the locks allowing the ships to continue through from one ocean to another. Last year's drought was the first time large ships couldn't transit until the rains filled the reserves back up. Our boat trip lasted about 90 minutes as we passed ships, tucking into small tree-covered bays just big enough for our 12-person boat, and where friendly monkeys climb aboard.
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While relaxing on the patio, 51 floors above earth, I felt the tremor, in fact possibly two or three of them, one right after the other and then heard the sound of people screaming from the pool below. I sprang off the couch and tried to get inside, but the door was locked. Con who had been enjoying a peaceful siesta jumped up having felt the bed move and hearing me knock on the glass. Turns out, the tremor shook the door latch from the kitchen sliding door down, locking me outside. Good thing Con was home! There's no damage that we're aware of, except for the elevator button panel which had been shaken off the wall. Reports on the Internet state, "Taller is safer.
He marched from the Caribbean coast across the jungle with 1, 400 men and burned it down. After the attack, the Panamanians rebuilt a new city in what is now known as Casco Veijo a few kilometers west. Much of Panama Veijo (pictured above), a 16th century Spanish settlement destroyed in 1671 and Casco Veijo (settled following the destruction of Panama Veijo in 1673) are UNESCO sites. Both are fascinating to visit as the new Panama City (where the high-rise boom began about 20 years ago) has grown up in between the two sites. Before the era of high rises in Panama City, 40 percent of Panamanians lived on $2 per day. When a major Colombian drug lord was arrested in 2007, USA government official said they discovered drug money had been laundered through Panama City real estate.
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A $6. 38 Uber ride deposited us onto 1. 5 hectares of natural Panamanian beauty for an entrance fee of $5 each. We walked the tree canopied path toward the main area of the centre and almost immediately Con spotted a two-toed sloth tucked under the cactus plant that had wrapped itself around one of the hundreds of enormous canopy trees. The forested area is a refuge for racoons, iguanas, birds of all sizes, and armadillos.
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It was hot and the birds were singing their hearts out. The settlement pictured above is what remains from the city founded by the Spanish in 1519 housing 100 people at the time, growing to 10, 000 including convents, chapels, a hospital and cathedral. From here Peruvian gold and silver was hauled over land to ships on the Caribbean side and sailed to Spain. The very rich lived in houses made of stone (pictured above) and others had houses made of wood, which no longer remain. Pirates attacked the city many times, an earthquake in 1620, and fire in 1644, but it was the attack in 1671 by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan that the city fell.
By afternoon, we crossed by ferry again, to visit Portobelo on the Caribbean side of Panama, skipping the town of Colon since reports say it's not a particularly safe city. Portobelo was established by the Spanish in the 16th century because of the deep natural harbour used to export silver. Both Portobelo and Fort San Lorenzo were strong fortifications on the Caribbean side of Panama. The natural harbour was looking a lot like a boat grave yard. January 30 -- To Las Perlas IslandAt 7:30 am, we were on the ferry heading to Contadora, one of the group of 200 Las Perlas islands about 30 miles from Panama City. Contadora was where the Spanish conquistadors stopped to take inventory of the gold and silver they would eventually sail to Spain. It's also the island where the Shah of Iran exiled briefly.
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