This is just one of the amazing modern office towers you will see downtown Panama City
My friend Nathan from Panama has corrected me, I was in Pedasi for Carnaval not Pocri. I drove through Pocri on the way to Pedasi. Thanks buddy.
Panama was great and I had no idea that Carnival was going on the week I was there. Talk about perfect timing: the first two nights I ended up staying in Panama City at Hostel Villa Surf. Great hostel. Dan the owner and Carlos from the rent-a-car company had both recommended for me to go to the northwest of the country to experience the real Carnival, so I did, and all the people I talked to said I’d never find accommodations where I was headed, so that made it the kind of challenge I love to take on. Well guys, no problem. The first night I stopped in a town called Las Tablas and saw a small hotel just outside of town and dropped in. Of course they had no rooms but the girl said that I should try this nice bed and breakfast for $40.00 a night, on the beach. Panama Casa Del Puerto. When I got there Bonnie the owner said they were also filled to capacity but she also said that she could talk with the people who were renting the guest house and see if they were willing to share with a stranger. The couple, Peter and Laurna, agreed and said no problem as they had a three bedroom house. Nice place and all, but they had it booked for Carnival the next day so it was time to move on the following morning. Another tip I will give to travellers is that when you’re looking for a place to stay during their busy season, the best time to look is first thing in the morning between 9:00 am to noon. Reason being is people change their minds if it’s not a place for them. Now on my way to the next town, not thinking about what all those people were telling me—that I’ll never find a place to stay, I traveled northwest to the next town, Pedasi. I went to a brand new Hostel that had just opened up and the guy at the front desk told me that they were full but the hotel on the corner called Residencial Moscoso may have a room for me, so I walked over and saw this nice old lady and asked if she had a room. It was so funny because she could not understand English and my Spanish is not the best, but the sense that I got from her was that there was a room in her hotel so I stuck around for a while. Then someone who spoke a bit of English to me came around to show me a room for $40.00 a night. After a couple of nights there, I had no idea where I wanted to go so I ended up heading towards Panama City. On the way I stopped in a few places like Playa Juan Hombron (big resort area), Playa Santa Clara and San Carlos. It was still early and I wanted to see more places so the funny thing is that they have real bad signage in that country, if they have any signs at all. Anyways while driving back I noticed that Panama City was on my right and as I was passing it I laughed to myself, saying in my mind I guess it was not meant to be. I always wanted to go to the Caribbean side of the country so I ended up going to a city called Colon. It looked a bit sketchy (port town) and it was getting (dark) so I was thinking to myself, wow, they have this nice hotel in the middle of this sketchy town. I went in to see what a room would cost, not thinking that I may stay there but checked it out anyways it was a Four Points by Sheraton.
Walking in with confidence and not looking like a backpacker, I went up the the counter and asked the guy the price for a night and handed him my card and looking like I am a travel agent so he went to the back maybe to see his manager or to look at my site and came back to me a few minutes later and said yes Mr. Montgomery, we have a deal for you, how does $50.00 a night plus 10% sound to you, I was floored. Okay, that adds up to $55.00 and does that include breakfast? I know it does because I do stay at Sheratons on business as well. This is why I don't make plans during my trips because sometimes things work out better in the long run.
Now I’d like to chat about the country, the people and the Carnival of Panama. I found it very friendly, helpful and loads of people speak English. I found it to be very safe in most of the country. For that week they had extra security from the army because of Carnival, so I never felt threatened at all.
Wow! Do they ever put on a great Carnival! I have been to Rio, Brazil for their Carnival where I witnessed three robberies in six days. Yes I was a victim in one of the three. Anyways, that is a story for another time. In the smaller towns there were mostly locals and they knew how to celebrate! The entire country shuts down for four days. Everyone is having fun, even the children. They walk around with their big water soaker guns and yes they even have a big water truck come in and soak you to help you cool down because it is so hot there. They start in the afternoon and take over the streets and shut them down whenever they want to in good fun. Sometimes a street band will just show up and start playing for the people and then everyone just joins in and starts dancing and singing even in front of peoples homes and they say come on in. The floats come down the street, fireworks and crackers go off all day and night. They seem to go for a siesta (nap) between 6 pm and 9 pm which allows the party to start up big time around 10 or 11 at night. Thank God the soakers are not out at night, the floats are all amazing. They are all lit up and very colorfull and people dance behind them and in between. The amount of fireworks and cases of fire crackers is amazing, I have never seen anything like it. Thank God the houses are fireproof. I saw lots things that would have caused a fire at home. Just when you think it’s over for the night, I’d go back to my room at 2:00 am and the fireworks would start up again. They put on an excellent show and it is so much fun to watch. I could not believe how close I was to the fire show. They would not allow that here in Canada. I caught the last day in Panama City and it was not at all the same. During the day was the only time I could get into the place. They have a great live band onstage and instead of the children having water guns they had spray strings to shoot at people. When I came back after a few hours I could not get back into see the celebration because the line looked about three hours long to get in, so I went back to the hostel to watch it on tv.
Thank you Panama you made my trip worth while and I will pass it on to other travelers.
So what an advenure already today. I have my rental car and decided to go for a drive. Surprisingly enough I took a worng turn and ended up in a some people would call it a bad area of Panama City, I found it not too bad, not very many tourist there though. While trying to find my way out, I ended up driving into a Federal police, City Police station and the Army they where all there and they where all roaming around with guns out. It took me a couple of minutes to find an english speaking officer to give me a helping hand. They told me that they would help me get out of the area and I was to follow them. That was absolutely fantastic as I got to run stop signs and just wave at the people as I went through. No worries I am on the road again to explore the noth west of the country. Ciao, Peter
I had no idea that it's Carnival in Panama starting on Friday. This is going to be so much fun as I was at Carnival in Rio a few years ago and loved it. Panama city is so beautiful and modern, absolutely amazing. I took the new Tour bus today citysightseeingpty.com, they just started two weeks ago and for $29.00 for a 24 hour pass. Another cheap cell for me down here it is only costing $0.10 per minute to call Canada. My phone number is 6265 7762
Till next time Travel Cheap With Pete now in beautiful Panama city.
Wow! It has been so warm here in Calgary this winter it is unbelievable. The weather gods lied to us in a good way as they called for the coldest weather in decades and it has been the exact opposite so far. It has been warmer than what was predicted, but I hear my friends over in Europe and Russia are getting the winter we were supposed to get with record cold temperatures as well.
Getting ready for my next trip! I am booked to go to Panama on February 15th. Maybe while I am down there I will go to Costa Rica but that may depend if I stay two weeks. I predict it will be cold here by then and I picked up the trip for $199.00 plus $309.00 in taxes. I am also going to rent a car for a week for $175.00 so I had to pick up an international license at the cost of $25.00 for a year.
For the people that are interested in going to Cuba. I am looking at going either February 27th or March 5th for a week maybe two depending on the weather in Calgary. I like to see more of where I am at the time and I will always find a cheap flight back home if I miss my original flight. I just hate making plans (dates) where I am supposed to be. Two more trips that I am looking at is one to Los Angeles this spring to see Michael Beckwith for a weekend and I need a summer holiday too. I have no idea where yet but I will keep everyone posted.
I have a friend coming to Calgary this weekend from British Columbia so maybe we will head out to Banff for the weekend. Another thing while I was home in Calgary last week I attended a gala for the Calgary Education Partnership Foundation. The picture on the top left is of the Mayor of Calgary and me enjoying the event.
The Mayors’ Excellence Awards Gala Dinner, presented by the Calgary Education Partnership Foundation recognizes and celebrates the efforts of business, community and education working together to improve the quality of public education in our community. The Mayors’ Excellence Awards are symbols of achievement, which are presented to partnerships that stand as benchmarks by continuing to positively impact the education of our children.