Day 23, Colon, Panama
Today we sailed into Colon, Panama at noon. We had time for a leisurely breakfast and even some games and a quiz in the bar. Even grabbed a salad lunch before getting off the boat.
Once off the boat, we had no excursion scheduled. But as we step out of the terminal, taxis were lined up and were vying for our business. We found a taxi driver who was offering a 5 hour tour of Panama and Panama City for $40 per person if we had 4 people. A card playing buddy from the Whist group and his wife were looking for something similar and we teamed up with them and got in his SUV Taxi. Right as we were about to drive away, a 5th person flagged us down and we invited him into our group. As usual, I always negotiate for the “Shotgun” seat, the front passenger seat.
We drive away, my cameras thanking me for the front view and our driver, Alejandro, (call me Alex) happily chats with us in decent English and we’re off to see Panama! Alex narrates the sights as we drive an hour across the isthmus, catching occasional view of Panama City (not something you can easily miss) and its spectacular cityscape. We also come across views of the Panama Canal as the roads across the isthmus bring us next to the canal at several points. We even get one view of the old canal next to the new canal.
Arriving in Panama City, Alex takes us to the Old Town where he drops us off for most of an hour and we walk about, visiting a cathedral and scenic streets full of both locals and tourists. We even find a shop and get some Empanadas and Taqueňos (Think breadstick filled with cheese). Meeting back up with our group, Alex takes us over to the new city where the skyline looms picturesque and skyscrapers vie for our attention. Even one building which appears twisted grabs our attention, similar to one in Dubai, I’m told. Unfortunately for my camera, it’s on the other side of our vehicle and try as it will, the camera frowns as it misses its chance at capturing the sight.
Then Alex takes us out of the city to head back to our ship. What should be an uneventful ride suddenly becomes more interesting when it starts to rain and our taxi stalls and breaks down on the side of a high speed freeway. What begins as a new unknown adventure becomes solved within ten minutes after Alex makes a couple phone calls and miraculously, a van pulls up behind us and we load into it. Another 10-15 minutes of travel and we unload again into another van that takes us back to our ship. Total lost time estimated at 15 minutes. Luckily for us, our stress levels never rose too high as the original breakdown happened less that a half hour from our ship and we had over 5 hours with which to get back.
So Alex becomes our hero as he turns what could have been a nightmare in the pouring rain into a very quick rescue! Back through the terminal, we acquire t-shirts and our obligatory magnet to build our “Magnet Wall” on a metal wall of our Stateroom, depicting our journey around the world!
The show tonight was supposed to be a tribute to the Jersey Boys again, but two singers have become a bit ill, so instead they did a tribute to Freddy Mercury and Queen, which turned out to be the best show yet and the first to elicit a Standing Ovation! Even later, in the Nightclub on board, there was a tropical dancing and music show that got everybody up and partying.