We're in Panama, and boy the is the weather awesome! Yesterday we arrived, and the trip was uneventful. Some highlights: drinking a L'Chaim of rum and some eggnog-like substance on the plane (handed out for free), stepping out into sunshine and warmth, having my wife demonstrate her international driving skills like a champ and arriving at one of largest and nicest hotel rooms we've ever stayed in (it's the Radisson Decapolis - and it's the ultimate family friendly room).
We spent 20 minutes driving from the airport to the vicinity of our hotel, and then another 20 minutes looping around the city trying to actually figure out what street sequence we needed to take to reach the hotel. Apparently in Panama, a city that's known for total lack of street signage and direction, that's par for the course.
Today Shira arranged for a trip to an Embera Indian Village. The Embera are an indigenous people that have transitioned from primarily farming the land to tourism. They couldn't have been more warm and welcoming. Lunch was fantastic: fresh tilapia, fried plantains and all the fresh fruit you could eat. The best part: it was served traditional style, meaning without silverware. Our 8 year old was in heaven with this.
Speaking of our 8 year old, he's having a blast. One of the highlights of the trip was that a fellow tourist brought along a soccer ball to donate to the village. They brought out the ball, and sure enough, within minutes, all the kids--Embera and Americans--were playing away. Soccer truly is an international language. As travel hacks go, the soccer ball is an awesome one.
We finished up this evening at a random Chinese Restaurant named Yee. It looked more like a generic diner than Chinese food place, but, whatever. They had pictures of the food and understood our feeble attempt to explain we wanted to eat vegetarian food, so that was good enough. Among the dishes we ordered was Mapo Tofu. And why is this significant? I'll tell you why. 18 years ago tonight, Shira and I had our *official* first date. And on that date I had Mapo Tofu. If you had told me then, that in 18 years I'd be sitting in Panama with her and an 8 year old, I would have probably smiled and said, "yeah, that sounds about right." So glad it worked out that way.
I should knock off now and spend some time with Shira. After all, this is an important anniversary, I hope to have many, many more Christmas Eve dates.