Monday, February 4, 2008

Last Day In Panama & The Way Home

Arrived back in Panama for the last day/night. We checked into our hostel, and I must admit this hostel was an oddity. Basically, it was on one floor of a high-rise building. We did get access to the swimming pool on the top floor though 20+ floors up!

Once we were settled, we walked around downtown a bit. It was a bit of a ghost town, and I assume this is because it was a Sunday afternoon (and Carnival was also happening). We took this opportunity to go to Casco Viejo (this is where I went to see a salsa band over a week ago).

Taxi Drive To Casco Viejo

While in this old section of Panama, we did a bit of souvenir shopping. We hung out at one particular shop for a while and picked up all kinds of Panamanian goodies. Also talked with the owner of the shop for a bit. He was very animated and a really good salesman. Here I bought a Panama hat (they're really from Ecuador), and then we bought all kinds of molas (Kula Indian fabric panels).

After stocking up on souvenirs, we then walked around Panama's Old City. Casco Veijo is a neighhorhood of Panama along the water, and it is filled with many very old buildings, and appears to be in a phase of revitalization for tourism, and business. There are many beautiful buildings and spots for beautiful views of Panama, and the boat-filled waters adjacent to the Panama Canal.

La Bovedas Archway

As we walked around we walked through a neat walk way called La Bovedas Archway. This whole area has the potential of being a real tourist treasure. Right now it's more of a hidden treasure, which is probably better, but I'm sure this place will be swarming with tourists in the near future. While walking around this Casco, we overheard a nearby tour, and heard about how Casco Viejo will be up on the silver screen in the near future. Apparently, this area is going to pass for both Bolivia and Haiti in the upcoming Quantum of Solace, the new James Bond movie. Very cool. **it sounds like shooting occurred a week after we were here!**

Cool-looking Gutted Building In Casco Viejo

Panama City Cityscape

After lunch, we headed back to the hostel. I grabbed a quick swim on the top of our sky scraper (pretty odd & cool experience). We then decided to go out on the town and check out Panama City's Carnival. We made it to the closed off street where the Carnival celebration was happening, and waited in line for about an hour, and then made it inside. It was packed. There were tons of booths (mainly food and beer), and also tons of little dance partys with DJs blasting reggaeton, merengue, salsa, hip hop, etc. There were also a couple of stages with live bands as well.

Panama City's Carnival

Carnival made for a long night, but it was fun. After walking up and down about of mile of partying, called it a night and got ready for the early flight home in the morning.

All in all the trip home was fairly uneventful. Had no hitches at customs, and all my flights were on time. The big slap in the face was the weather. After 2 weeks of tropical warmth, walked out of Seatac to some very chilly weather. Almost thought I wouldn't make it home because of a very snowy and scary Snoqualmie Pass---I knew my vacation was officially over. :)

Snoqualmie Pass....brrrr!

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