16.12.2011 - 23.12.2011
Back on mainland Panama after a week in Bocas del Toro we got on the bus to Panama City. As the seats didn’t seem to be properly fixed to the bus it made for a shaky ride. Nevertheless we made it to Panama City in one piece
Panama City by night
Not having a fixed timeline, we hadn’t booked anywhere to stay in the city, assuming it would work itself out. Mistake.
We arrived at a hostel recommended to us by the staff at Agua Lounge only to find it full, feeling pretty stupid for not calling ahead. Apparently hostels book out for Christmas. With no other hostels in the immediate vicinity and with the two of us starving and grumpy, we accepted their offer to sleep in the hostel theater at a reduced price.
Christmas time in Panama
Not wanting to stay in Panama City longer than necessary, but with a lengthy to-do list, we stuffed ourselves with free banana pancakes at the hostel and set out to the famous Albrook Mall. We would end up spending more time than anticipated at this place as our stay in Panama City stretched into a week.
Having managed to find a cheap a computer we returned to the hostel to find a way to get to Colombia.
A laptop at last..
As some of you might know, there is no road connecting South and Central America. There are popular sailing trips leaving Panama for Cartagena in Colombia, cruising to the beautiful San Blas islands of Panama. These trips aren’t cheap (safe one’s starting at around 400 US$), but we had originally planned taking this route as we wanted to see San Blas. Unfortunately, December is not the best time of year to go in these trips as seas can be rough and it usually rains. We therefore decided to postpone this journey to when we were heading back to Panama on our way back to Canada.
Jason had done a substantial amount of research trying to find a cheap route to Colombia, and had found a way that seemed likely to work. All that was missing was a short domestic flight. Long story short, after spending 7 hours at the airport trying to get on a flight (it was impossible to book online this close to Christmas) we found ourselves returning to the hostel.
As there was still no availability at our hostel, we decided to spend another night at the theater. Since the hostel was already overbooked and nobody seemed to have any idea who was staying there and not, many people in the theater were sleeping there for free. Once we realized this, we took advantage and helped ourselves to a free night
Failing in all our attempts to get to Colombia in a cheap way, we found ourselves forced to fly to Cartagena from Panama City on over-priced flights.
Booking the cheapest tickets meant staying in Panama for 5 days longer than planned. If nothing else this gave us the chance to see the famous Panama Canal, and move hostels three times.
At the Miraflores Locks
We flew out of Panama on the 23rd of December following a ridiculous route with 3 stop-overs, arriving in Cartagena just in time for Christmas