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Trip Report Mi tocaya y yo en Panama

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Who we were: I grew up in Panama and wanted to share that beautiful country with my namesake, mi tocaya. A friend from high school joined us. Mi tocaya is majoring in animal science in preparation for vet school. My friend is an avid birder who has been instrumental in the development of Pipeline Road/ Rainforest Discovery Center and the Biodiversity Museum.

What we did:
Day One: A friend from high school met us at the airport. So did a goodly number of the local television stations. It seems the New York Yankees were arriving at the same time.
My friend took us on a driving tour of the city to help orient mi tocaya. he dropped us off at our hotel and we had a chance to really feel the Panama heat and humidity. We stayed on the Amador Causeway so she would have a chance to watch the ships line up for transit. I had a view of the Bridge of the Americas and Ancon Hill. When I first moved to Panama I lived at Fort Kobbe and took the old Thatcher Ferry to school. The bridge opened in 1962 about the same time as we moved to Quarry Heights on Ancon Hill.

We had a leisurely dinner at Jimmy's. The food was very good and reasonably priced. The conversation was warm and comfortable with our host sharing the story of how his grandparents had emigrated from Germany to Panama to escape the Nazi threat . Mi tocaya was spellbound by his stories and it occurred to me how lucky she was to get such a personal narrative of that important time in history.

Day Two
Another friend from high school picked us up very early. He is retired from the U S Army Corps of Engineers and a long time resident of Panama. What a tour guide! Our first stop was Balboa High School where he gave a succinct but thorough history of the Panama, the Canal and the partnership between the USA. and Panama. He shared the stories of the riots in 1964 ( my senior year at BHS) .
We went to Miraflores Locks to watch the ships transit. Mi tocaya got a first rate understanding of how the Canal operates. We did the museum and the movie as well as a little bit if a " behind the scenes" tour arranged my a friend. We then went to Casco Viejo to walk and enjoy a little shopping and lunch. If you are a shopper the branch of Reprosa and the one of No Me Olivides in Casco Viejo were quite nice. After that we spent an hour at the ruins of Old Panama.
We had a very unremarkable dinner at Panka's on the Causeway. An old friend joined us for dinner so it was a leisurely meal and the pace of the restaurant was a good fit for us.

Advice to other travelers: For touring in the city,hire a driver. The traffic is a nightmare.

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