Snowy USA to tropical Panama,
Oh no – where is our wake-up call?
I dash down to reception and the bus to the airport is gone!
There is no breakfast pack ready as promised.
This is why we paid more than we usually would to stay near the airport.
I do a quick attitude check, and organise the hotel to pay for a taxi to take us to Chicago airport.
The reception guy hustles up a couple of breakfast packs.
On arrival, we somehow manage to move a few items from luggage to backpacks and we hit the 23 kg limit each.
This is an achievement!
I have also packed summer clothes for changing into on the plane.
As it is 6 am the airport is empty.
Duty Free is shut.
There is nothing to do.
We get through security and customs promptly.
So I decide we need to get some energy out.
So we decide to have trolley races.
This seems like a good idea until I pull a muscle in my leg as I am scooting along.
I have got to remember I am 50 years old!!
But we had fun.
The plane ride is pretty good.
We pull out the lap-top and take out first Spanish lesson.
My son gets right into it.
This was a great Christmas gift from our Couch-surfing friends in LA – thanks!!
The rest of the plane is full – a great group of med-students going off to do volunteer work in Peru.
We have arranged to stay at a mission base 3/4 hour out of Panama city.
I need to get a handle on language barriers, safety, and culture.
I figure this is a good way to gradually ease in.
They arrive in a black Nissan X-Trail – amazingly the exact same car I had in Australia.
But alas – their radiator explodes right as they arrive out the front of the terminal.
So we wait for a tow truck and they organise a tiny car rental.
We squeeze our luggage in.
I am so sweaty and hot. I feel wet all over.
Wait – I am – oh no.
We have folding water bottles and I have sat on one and it has exploded all over my pants.
I look like I have wet myself!.
I sit in this for 1/2 hour – gross,
while we follow the tow truck to the depot and sort their problem out.
They then take us to the supermarket.
I need toiletries.
Oh no – it is all in Spanish.
I finally find 2 ladies to help me translate.
I need the right haircare – ‘this could be dangerous’ I laugh to myself.
I hide my son behind me as I walk with my wet pants.
I ask for the bano. I quickly learn toilet paper can’t go in the toilets.
You stare at an open basket of used paper – oh gross!
But the rest of Panama doesn’t seem so poor.
We drive along the Panama Canal.
Then through the National Park aka jungle,
and we arrive in their hilly mission site in Chilibre.
We are fortunate to have a private room.
Several bedrooms share the lounge and bathroom, but no-one is staying there.
It is lovely and peaceful.
We enjoy a great dinner.
My son quickly makes a new friend.
I meet the lovely people on the base – 2 girls from Germany,
and a family from Costa Rica and a few others.
It is so hot – we are so pleased to have a little air-conditioner in our room.
We also only have cold water showers – I think no big deal
– but as I jump in, well I am wrong!
It is a quick and refreshing shower!
But there seems to be a seal barking???
No, it is a dog with a very bad barking problem.
He is joined by the rooster.
And yeah – virtually no mosquitoes.
I wonder what life will hold for us in this country?
Then the brakes from the semi-trailer trucks going to Colon groan past.
I count one truck driver wind through 15 gears.
It puts me to sleep.
Bueno noche mundo!
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