Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Panama Adventure - Day 4

Day 4 started with a hike up Cerro Ancon (Read: Ancon Hill). While I was hoping for impressive views and maybe some additional wildlife settings, my real goal was to do a bit of Geocaching. Specifically, I wanted to drop off a travel bug in a new (and exciting) location. A travel bug is a small metal tag with a unique number that can be tracked as it hops from location to location. I didn't have high hopes about completing this mission: I wasn't sure we'd have time to do any geocaching, or that there would be any active caches around, or if my cellphone without a data connection would be of any use. However, all the stars lined up: the c:geo app works fine without a cell connection, there was an active cache on Ancon Hill and most importantly we had the time to go hunt for it. And today, this all came together as I poked around and found the cache. Whoo! I also picked up a new travel bug. This one has covered 15,934 miles, and has been in Canada, Colorado and Osaka Japan, and now it's on its way to Washington, DC.

Along with our Geocaching adventure, Cerro Ancon did provide some awesome views, and we even saw a Toucan in the trees. Man those birds are gorgeous. From Cerro Ancon we made our way to the Amador Causeway and found some lunch. First thing this morning I had picked up a map, and between that and the GPS, we are finally beginning to feel like we can get around this place. True, the map, physical street signs and GPS never seem to agree, but we can usually cobble together something to make some sense. When in doubt, ignore the GPS, seems to be a solid rule.

Lunch was Panamanian food, which turned out to be fish and fried plantains. My rule about deep frying still stands: anything deep fried is going to taste good and fried plantains were no exception.

After lunch we hit Punta Culebra, a marine exhibition park. Really this was another chance to take a stroll (this time through a dry forest, as apposed to a rain forest) and ogle some fish. They had a touch tank which our 8 year old enjoyed, though the real highlight was spotting a large iguana perched high up in a tree.

By the time we made it home (with no detours or mis-attempts, thank you very much!), it was time to start thinking about dinner. But what to do? We could do the hotel restaurant or the pizza place across the street, or we could take a chance and do some walking. I pushed for the walking, but as we got underway, it started to drizzle and then rain. Between the rain and a tired 8 year old, things were starting to look grim. We stepped into the first place we could find cover, which was some sort of diner looking affair. It would do, but was going to basically be a repeat of lunch. As a last ditch option, Shira went across the street to a Mediterranean looking option. After a bit, we walked out of the diner to see what Shira had to say, and I could see her beckoning us to come over.

I walked into the place and noticed that it was a typical Mediterranean setup, though as we were seated, I did notice a Mezuzah on the door. The name of the place was Karbones, and I noticed the circle K on the front of the menu. But surely that was a coincidence, right? Shira sits me down and gives me the surprising news: yes, this place is Kosher! I look around, and sure enough, most of the men in the restaurant were wearing Kippot, there were benschers in the corner, and some frum music group was playing on YouTube over the sound system. I ordered a schwarma and ate till I was going to explode, and then ate a little more. Seriously, in a place where we can't find our hotel using a GPS, how on Earth did we stumble into a Kosher restaurant? However it happened, I'm glad it did. As surprises go, this one is going to be hard to beat.

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