Visiting Panama & not seeing Canal??

Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:08 PM
  #21  
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Thanks for all the great info! It has definitely gotten me more excited about our trip. I'll be sure to post a trip report once we return home.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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Well, I'll just try to spell it correctly from now on--mola! I'm looking forward to buying a couple more this summer so to have a wall "group". They are beautiful.

Mikemo and cmfong--what interesting life experiences to look back on. . . .I would like to step back in time and visit Central American in the 70's. . .it must have been amazing.
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 04:44 PM
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It was, but the good news it, Panama is still amazing. Have a wonderful time. I had some of my molas framed in wood and they look very nice grouped on a wall. I also had a few made into placemats and others into throw pillows (can you see the theme emerging?).
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Old Apr 15th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Yes, I thought about doing a few pillows also. How did you do your placemats? Did someone do that for you? I'd like that.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 02:42 AM
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cmcfong, Would you know what the price range is for the molas? They look incredible & I love the placemat idea too.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 04:08 AM
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The molas were done as placemats by a seamstress in North Carolina. I bought several rather inexpensive ones and had them "framed" with a red cotton border.
The molas range from $10 to the hundreds. Feel free to bargain at the markets in Balboa.
One of my favorite souvenir items bought at Gran Morrison was a black beach towel with mola print. Not craft, of course, but a fun reminder of a beautiful country.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 11:07 AM
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I hate to admit it but we never made it to the Mira Flores Visitors Center. We rented a car and drove to the Royal Decameron which was a fairly simple drive. The hotel is beautifully landscaped and in a good location. This was my first "all inclusive" vacation & as nice as the hotel
is..this type of resort is just not for me. I felt very isolated and I didn't really get a feel for Panama. The staff were great & friendly but almost no one spoke English. (we don't speak spanish) We didn't mind but it might be uncomfortable for others. We hired a driver through Decameron Explorers to provide the transfer to Albrook Airport since we needed to leave the hotel at 3am. We never would've found the airport on our own..especially in the dark. We boarded an Air Panama flight (20 seats) for Achutupo. The views of Panama were wonderful although I'm not one who enjoys the small planes. We weren't aware that the plane makes several stops on its journey. After the 2nd take off & landing my daughter did get sick. Once we arrived we were met by "Sam" who took us by boat to the Dad Ibbe Lodge. I felt like I was on Gilligan's Island. We were served breakfast & then taken to the Kuna Village. Sam was a wonderful guide and escorted us around the village. My son was sick with a fever so we had to cut our tour there short but we did buy some beautiful Mola's before leaving. The Kuna children were adorable & very excited to see us. It was an eye opening experience for my children to see how others live & how fortunate we are. Once back to the bungalow my son needed to sleep so we were unable to snorkel on the nearby island. We just relaxed in the hammocks. I didn't let me 10 yr old daughter in the water near the island even though it was crystal clear because I was afraid of her stepping on something & cutting her foot. There was a lot of coral & sea grass around. This resulted in her being very bored & not too interested in "learning" how to relax in a hammock. I'm glad I only booked 1 nt. The lunch & dinner were great & were prepared by 2 Kuna women.
There were some bugs but I think they all found my son because he was covered with bites but the rest of us only had a few. There were a lot of yellow jackets flying around very close to the ground. There were holes in the sand that seemed to be what they were attracted to. No one got stung but I was nervous about them. We found it difficult to sleep knowing that any number of creatures could access our room during the night. If we closed the doors & windows we were too hot but when leaving them open we were afraid of bugs. I was up before sunrise & was able to take some wonderful pictures. We were served breakfast & then brought back to the airstrip. This part of our trip was definitely an "adventure" & I'm sure we would've enjoyed it a lot more had my son not been sick. He had a fever & being so far away from the city made me nervous especially not knowing for sure what was wrong with him. Once back at the Decameron he rested some more & then recovered. We had intended on going to the Canal on our last day but once we arrived at the airport hotel..no one was able to give us directions. Driving through Panama City was very confusing & it was getting late so the rest of the family outvoted me and we stayed at the hotel. We did drive over the canal & saw it from the air but I am disappointed that we missed the visitor center. I'm still reading the Path Between the Seas which peaked my interest in seeing it even more. I guess I can use that as an excuse to return to Panama. Overall we enjoyed our trip but next time I'd like to visit some of the other areas & stay at smaller hotels.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 11:36 AM
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I seriously considered retiring in Panama, but too hot and humid for us.
My life there was great in the early 70's.
The then Zonians, nearly all (for 2 and 3 generations) who never visited the Republic, and spoke no Spanish, like all US bureaucrats, sucked!!!
Still, a great country.
M
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 04:00 PM
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Petite1, welcome home. Did you take any photos you could post? I would love to see them.

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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 05:12 PM
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I'm still stuck in the past with my 35mm camera so I don't have any digital photos. I did have them put onto a disc and saved them to my computer but I don't know how to post them. I would love to share them if someone could tell me how.
Thanks!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:30 AM
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Since I would like to see them but have no clue how to post them, let me suggest you try this question on the Lounge forum. Someone over there might be willing to help.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2007, 12:17 PM
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cmcfong: Great idea..I did what you suggested & I think I've got it. You can see some of my photos at
http://picasaweb.google.com/petite111706
Thanks again!
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 04:53 AM
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Great Photos, petite1! Do you have more?! You really got some great shots with lots of beautiful local color. San Blas looks like a future destination for us. My husband was impressed!

Your poor younger son. Bless his heart--I can imagine your concern at being away from the mainstream with him sick. So glad he soon felt better and could enjoy himself again.

Thanks for your post--I enjoyed the read.
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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Absolutely wonderful pictures, petite1. Shillmac, when do you leave for Panama? I had in my mind you were going around August. I will be waiting for your photos, too.
Petite1, that link is great. I will use it to post my trip pictures.
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 02:44 AM
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Glad you enjoyed the pictures. I have 2 more rolls left that I haven't finished yet but once I get them developed I'll post those as well.

Shillmac: We're planning a trip back to Costa Rica for Feb & am trying to decide where to stay in Arenal. I think I remember reading that the Arenal Paraiso is your favorite for that area..am I correct? We've stayed at Tabacon about 2 years ago & loved it but would like to stay somewhere not so touristy & busy this time. Would Arenal Paraiso be a good choice? This time we'll only have our 2 younger ones (11 & 14) with us. Unfortunately my older 2 will be in college & won't be able to join us. Any
suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks!
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Old Jun 6th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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Hi, I will possibly fly to Brazil with overnight stay in Panama city. My plane arrives at 6 pm in Panama city. Do you think I will have enough time in the evening to just have a quick look on the canal? If so, what is the best way to get there from airport, is it safe enough to rent a car there?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 7th, 2007, 02:31 AM
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The MiraFlores visitor center closes at 5pm so that wouldn't be an option for you.
Driving in Panama City is extremely confusing & I wouldn't recommend it especially after 6 once it starts to get dark. What time does your flight leave in the morning?
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Old Jun 7th, 2007, 03:13 AM
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Although the information center is closed a cab driver will be able to take you to a position where you can watch ships going through the Canal.
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Old Jun 7th, 2007, 02:20 PM
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Flight in the morning is at 9am (have to be in airport at 7am), so I don't think morning is an option. However, I didn't book anything yet. I am just trying to understand what's possible if I go this way.
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