On the night before departure for most of the crew we had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant that provided a show as well. We sat in a covered patio that felt as if we were outside, but it was cool (as opposed to the reality of outside). After a delicious dinner, the music changed to local Panamanian folk music and a series of dancers in fabulous costumes came out.
We had scheduled two extra days so we hung out at the hotel for one and went back to Casco Antinguo to go to Mass at La Merced Church, walk around and shop at a local bazaar set up in the skeleton of a house across the street from the Cathedral. Oh, and of course we went down behind the pink palace for another dish of passionfruit ice cream. The trip would not have been complete without it.
On our final (?!) day (two days after most people left) we woke relaxed, since our flight didn’t leave til 1:05 pm. Two days earlier almost everyone else had left on a flight at 8:15 or 8:30, meaning that they had to be at the airport around 5 am. Were we ever gloating over our sleep-in and leisurely breakfast. Long bus ride to the airport, long wait there (during which we admired the clever quotes sprinkled above us),
but no problems til we got to the check-in desk – three
hours early – where they informed us that our flight had left one hour earlier! Turns out American had changed our schedule, informing us via page two of our itinerary, which we hadn’t checked. (They also sent us an email message, which arrived at 8:pm that departure day.) What could be done? Next flight with free seats would be a week later. Much telephoning, negotiations and anguish later, we got seats for a flight two days later, and a recommendation for a nice resort hotel 15 minutes from the airport.
The hotel was heavenly! No schedules, no traffic, and for the first time in two weeks, it was quiet! Panama, while exciting, is one of the noisiest places I know – at least in Panama City and the Canal Zone. Their included breakfast was delicious, though they didn’t have the fresh pineapple I’d so enjoyed at the Holiday Inn. It has a large lawn with the rooms around it and a pool in the middle. If we hadn’t been so lazy, we might have gone for a swim. But we didn’t. We just watched the other guests’ children play chess with pieces almost as tall as they were and read our books. The extra time also gave David a chance to follow up on a newly discovered possibility for donor-funding of GSI. And I got a chance
to visit a mall near the airport that I’d been told had all sorts of things of interest to tourists. Not! It was pretty close to any mid-size mall in the States. All the same stores with imported clothes. We had a lovely dinner there and went back to the hotel. We had to make it an early night because we had to be up at 4 a.m. to be at the airport by 5:30. We were determined to be first on line.
And in fact we got to the airport before the American staff, and we were indeed first in line. So we got on the flight without any problem, and Jennifer picked us up at SFO. And so home, with missed appointments to catch up on, great memories and photos to process, and time to write this blog.
P.S. Here are some interesting pictures that I didn’t include earlier:
And finally, the supermarket where we actually found passionfruit concentrate so we could extend our trip by enjoying passionfruit juice for our breakfast for another week.