Faithies Off to Panama on Monday!

Jan 23rd, 2007, 02:03 AM
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Faithies Off to Panama on Monday!

Hi Fodorite friends, booked yesterday for departure on Jan.29 to Panama, 6 days from now! Great deals on selloff. We Figure now is the time to do it while the children are young and their teachers will not disapprove as much! Trying to find the "right" spot in Panama City for first and last night. Thinking the first night we could actually stay in Cerro Azul at Casa de Campo as its close to International airport, we would leave from there the next day to Isla Grande. The last night we might have to bite the bullet and stay at the Country Inn and Suites, then tour around the canal etc. Its def. not my first choice, but hey! I'lll be in Panama! Input is we were going to bus it to Sabanitas and then on to La Guara(sp)? Crazy idea?
faithie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 03:47 AM
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You little globetrekker you! Have a fantastic time. Actually the Country Inn may not be so bad. When I was looking into Panama I came across it & considered it, mostly as it looks like it's in a great location. Looking forward to hearing about it!
tully is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 04:27 AM
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Hi Tully! Thank-You.
Yes,the Country Inn looks like a great location, just a little "generic" for our tastes. I'm sure it will be fine, the kids will think its great. Sent the notes with the kids this am for the teachers, I feel like a naughty mom! Not quite sure what to expect in Panama, but thats 1/2 the fun. Still have not booked the first and last nite, so if anyone has ideas.....
faithie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 04:40 AM
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You lucky ducks!!! Can't wait to hear all about it! Can you share more itinerary details to tide us over? Mind sharing what you're paying for flights?

This may be unhelpful since I haven't been to Panamá, but here are 2 places I've bookmarked for future reference in/near Panamá City: - this is what I had bookmarked by the website isn't working, so try...

Happy trails!

hopefulist is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 04:54 AM
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Hi, thanx for the links. I'll take a look. We are paying $400.00 each for the adults, and the kids are $380.00 each. Thats all taxes in return. Montreal-Panama direct. We plan to spend the first and last nite in or around Panama City, we'll tour the canal, perhaps Casco Viejo, and maybe the island in the canal that has the Smithsonian institute. In between we are staying on Isla Grande on the Caribbean side, at Hotel Sister Moon. We will tour Portobelo, day trips to neighbouring islands, snorkel, etc. My children are not huge into touring around yet, so we do a a bit, then stay put. works out well, we will most likely return and do more each visit, same plan for Costa Rica. Thanx for the info, off to look.
faithie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 06:04 AM
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Have a wonderful trip to Panama. I went last Feb. and stayed at the Country Inn and Suites. I was hesitant about staying there but I have to say I really enjoyed it. It was close to the airport, had a great breakfast, pool and views.
Panama is so safe and easy. A great spot to take your kids. Enjoy
ttraveler is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 10:20 AM
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faithie - Have a great time. Man, I can't even get flight prices that low from S.D. to Savannah! Can't wait to hear about your trip. Dyer
Dyer is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Oh Faithie you go girl!! Have a wonderful trip and please post as soon as you can your bus trip information to/from Isla Grande. We will be flying into Tocumen from Bocas del Toro on March 14 but arrive too late for the Bananas transportation so it's a cab for four of us or the bus - probably the bus I'll be waiting to hear what you experience. Enjoy!!!
raspas is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 11:13 AM
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My favs were the VOQ on Ancon Hill in '73; Gorgas hospital in Panama; Gorgas Institute in the then Zone; Aligandi with an USAF helo ride over and back (and a dugout all over to find the lobsters) to visit the Cunas and staff at their hospital for a week; and the finally now civilized native folks in the East/the Darien.
Super experience.
Buen viaje.
mikemo is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Thanx everyone, no room at Albrook Inn, they finally responded. Looks like its Country Inn, I DO love that view....
faithie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 12:29 PM
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I don't know if this is relevant...but it's a great report!!
pepper131 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 02:49 PM
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Great pics, thanx. Gives me some ideas.
faithie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 02:53 PM
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What !!!!

Another trip fathie!

I just cannot keep up with all the places you are going to.!

Make sure you see the Bridges of the Americas when in Panama.

Also in the evening time , let me know ( after you return) if those nice tall Panama City office buildings are lit up at night or are most of them dark.

There is a reason for this.

Will tell you later.

Good price from Montreal to Panama, are you going Transat Airlines or Air Canada( Does Sky service go there ?)

Have a good time
Percy is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 03:55 PM
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Hi Percy, we are on good old Air Transat, we flew with them to Costa Rica last month.
And yes, I'm fortunate to be able to do this again, but we do "budget" our trips to be able to go 2x.
I'm intrigued with the buildings, hmmmm... So the drug runners bypass PC? lol, cant be as simple as saving electricity?
faithie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 08:24 PM
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Good for you! I'm sure you have the tongues wagging in the teacher's lounge! This from personal experience. . LOL

Some of my "colleagues" would be ballistic. I always figured that these kind of trips are probably more valuable educationally than those days at school--across the curriculum!

Here in Texas, this would be a problem, though, because we live and die by "the test". Having kids out of school in the spring before Feb/March testing raises everyone's eyebrows! But I'm one of the more tolerant ones. . .

You guys have a GREAT time making memories. . .can't wait to hear! I'm curious about those buildings also!

Hi Percy--yes, I'm still up.
shillmac is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 02:17 AM
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Casco Viejo should be equally educative for you and your children. I spent a fascinating and painful morning in the Cathedral Square listening to two elderly local school teachers talk of the US invasion. I entered their account on my blog: - July 13
simongandolfi is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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Hi All, thats funny Jill! Our school system in Quebec is part of the "reform", kids are now tested all through the year equally, they are not tested just before report cards. Thats one thing in our favour. I believe Bellas teacher would be more comfortable with it(grade 5) as opposed to Wills(grade 3). The way we look at it is that its a remarkable opportunity to learn and see other places and people. And of course in a couple of years it will be impossible to take Bella out. Anyway, I'm making them do extra work this week, and we'll have to "pull up our socks" when we come home!
faithie is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 03:12 AM
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And thanx Simon, I'll go take a read!
faithie is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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That sounds reasonable, your school system. Very reasonable!

What happens here is that kids at the 3rd and 5th grade levels are not allowed to pass on to 4th or 6th grade unless that exam is passed--and it is tough--very tough. There is a full day reading exam, a full day math exam, and a full day science exam. They must pass reading and math to continue to the next grade.

I teach 5th reading, and there is a lot of pressure. For kids and for teachers. We are a Title I school, lots of Mexican kids, many learning the language, and lots of low socio economic kids. We get special funding, of course, for the Title I classification, and we HAVE to come up with some results. So, what happens is that when a child is absent during that really intense instruction time, particularly in the weeks prior to the exam when lots of small group and one on one instruction is occuring, it not only reflects on the child, but on the teacher. There is a lot of competition between elementaries in our community (the others have kids who live in better circumstances), and we work very hard to hold our own--and often outshine everyone. When a teacher's job performance is evaluated based on how well the kids did on "the test"--that's when many get cranky about absenses!

It's an interesting process, one that I don't entirely agree with, but hey---this is my post retirement job, and this state is now paying my salary!
The report card has very little to do with what we consider "success"--odd, isn't it? AND, once those tests are passed and the kids know they have made it to the next grade--how easy do you think it is to keep them interested in what's going on in class???!! The reading test is in February, so with the 85-90% expected pass rate on the first attempt (they get 3 attempts, the 3rd following 4 weeks of summer school), so that means I teach (or try to teach!) 3 months after they already know they're moving to 6th grade! Gets pretty interesting!

And I'm getting a little long winded--like you wanted to know all that! It's all part of Mr. Bush's "NCLB" plan---No Child Left Behind. . .

You're leaving Monday!

shillmac is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 09:47 PM
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Have fun Faithie and Family!

Have been looking into Panama also - really tempted to get some Westjet passes to Montreal and use selloffvacations for such a great flight deal. Ahhh not as easy to plan a vacation this year with one daughter in university and the other in grade 12...

On the other hand, DH has just won a trip to Barcelona in April (such a good boy) and so will have a chance to practice Spanish this spring anyway.

Faithie, I'm very curious about medical clinics in Panama, now that we have a new medical condition in the family, so wondering if you would keep your eyes peeled and report back if you spot one in the smaller centres or on the island.

Looking forward to your Panama post!

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