Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our final few days in Panama. November 20th, 2010

We had originally planned for 6 full, free days of sightseeing and shopping in and around Panama City but now that is cut short. We contacted the airlines and made reservations for Sunday and since we will spend only one night in a hotel in Cartagena, decide to splurge and stay at the Hilton, which we found, after doing an internet search is pet friendly. In Panama City, we are staying at the Hotel Benidorm, also, pet friendly and economical. It is a small hotel close to Avenida Balboa (the main thoroughfare) but has everything we need. In addition, Carlos the owner whose family besides owning this hotel also owns the Hotel Veracruz in Panama City is extremely helpful and was invaluable in assisting us with obtaining a cashiers check. We had visited every main bank in the city (HSBC, Banco General, Banco National, Scotiabank to name a few) and because of the banking laws to get a cashiers check, you need a bank account. To cargo the RV, you need, not a credit card, not check, not cash even, you need a cashiers check. We were in a catch 22, until Carlos arrived. After we explained our dilemma, he talked to his bank and then he and Tom went to the bank and we finally got the blessed check. We also, got to visit the Miraflores locks. The Panama Canal consists of a series of lock systems to negotiate the route from the Pacific to Atlantic Oceans and Miraflores is the closest to the city. We were able to watch a huge cargo vessel negotiate through the locks being guided by small trams on each side called mules. Absolutely amazing. After that we went to the highest point in the city for a spectacular 360 degree view of the city, extremely photogenic. We then visited the historic section with it's churches and government buildings before heading back to the hotel. Tomorrow, it is a travel day to Colombia but Tom and I relished our last night by eating at Bennigan's and discussing our time spent in Panama. We can now understand why so many Americans retire here. It is accomodating with many of the conveniences of the US - shopping, medical, dental, hospitals, housing and communications to name but a few but significantly less expensive than the US.

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