Saturday, December 29, 2012

Panama Adventure - Day 7

Oy, our vacation in Panama is just about over! As I type this, we're packing up and getting ready for one last night, an early breakfast, and then it's back to DC for us. Today we tried to tick a few more must-see items off of the Panama list.

We spent the morning in Casco Viejo, a quaint little neighborhood about a 15 minute drive away (technically, it's only 5 minutes away, but you need to leave 10 minutes for traffic and turn-arounds). We parked the car at what appeared to be legal parking, and gave an old fellow watching the corner a few bucks to keep an eye out for us. We then did a walking tour of the neighborhood. We took in the plazas, ogled the architecture, and visited the Panama Canal Museum in the area. We tried to get a glimpse of the Presidential Palace, but were turned away by a guard who spoke no English, but looked like he meant business.

From Casco Veijo, we made our way to the Metropolitan National Park, which gave us another chance to sweat profusely in a jungle. Again, this is exactly what I love to do. We didn't see any large animals (just ants, a frog and a bunch of turtles), but it was still a pleasure just to take the hike.

Shira's definitely on her way to mastering driving in Panama. It turns out, there's more to it than figuring out the woefully inadequate (yet, still relatively useful) GPS maps and dealing with the lack of street signage. No, there's a whole acceptance that lanes and traffic rules (right lane must turn right, for example) are more suggestions than anything else. One habit she most definitely has not embraced is the use of her horn. In Panama, a gentle tap on the horn is a sort of "pardon me, I'm going to change lanes - I hope that isn't a problem. Too bad if it is." It's not the angry horn honk of the U.S., it's more like an audio turn signal. Though one used after the turn is in progress, rather than to warn others you *might* make the turn. Seriously, the drivers are quite nice here, and often given right of way to pedestrians. They just do it all with a sort of flare you might expect from a person driving in a video game, rather than with real cars and real lives.

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