Sunday, December 04, 2011

Panama - Day 3 recap

Sunday, 27 November 2011

This morning started off bright and sunny but it didn’t stay that way for long. Long enough though to give us a little bit of time by the pool and also just enough time, for me at least, to get a tiny bit of colour on my legs. The clouds soon moved in and we had scattered showers until late in the afternoon.

After a lazy morning at the hotel’s rooftop pool, we spent the afternoon in El Casco Antiguo, exploring the old neighbourhood and dodging raindrops. We visited the Canal museum and were also able to snap a few pictures in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace. They have some special white herons in the courtyard there. Apparently the herons (well, generations ago) were a gift dating back from the 1920’s, and they’ve been kept there ever since. We had to ask a few different guards where we could go in, then pass through security (Joan had security risk shoes, apparently!).

We saw some beautiful old buildings, wonderfully restored and others that have been left to crumble, in all that different kind of beauty. The old architecture of these buildings is incredible. And each building that has a balcony, the ironwork is different and original to each. The area just screams of character. However, as Shirla told us, some of that character will soon be gone. With the regentrification of the neighbourhood, the old (read: poor) residents are slowly being removed from the area. I think it’s a shame because for me that’s part of the charm of the place: the old men reading their newspapers on the front stoops, the kids playing street soccer, the little bodegas and hole in the wall restaurants – it wouldn’t feel the same without the atmosphere these people and places give it. Hmmm …

Back in Plaza Balboa, we enjoyed a late lazy lunch in the square. It felt very European, but the pace was distinctly Caribbean. Also had the best cup of coffee there!

After waiting for the heavier by the second rain to stop, which it didn’t, we walked as quickly as possible over a few blocks to visit the church Shirla told us about, with the solid gold altar. Wouldn’t you know – the place was closed! I thought the church was supposed to offer sanctuary.

The story, as Shirla told us, is this: This solid gold altar was in a church in Panama Viejo. The priest at the church heard that pirates were coming to attack, so got some black paint and covered the altar with it. Many years later, after people had pretty much forgotten about it and the paint started fading away, it was “discovered” and restored to its natural state. How cool is that?! So no picture of the golden altar, which would have been nice, instead I got Keith to take a picture of me knocking on the church door! Ha, ha! (Sorry, Mom …)

Finally we gave up on the weather and went exploring by car for a bit. This also gave us enough time to visit a Do-It Centre (memories! Oh, and I found a cute little bathroom soap set for $7.50) and drive across The Bridge of the Americas into North America and back again, into South America. I love that!

Last night for dinner and we returned to the Amador Causeway and tried the Columbian restaurant. I had another mixed ceviche but this one wasn’t quite as good as the one from Mi Ranchito.

Back at the hotel for one last swim in the rooftop pool – honestly, best pool view ever – and then time to pack up. Three days really flies by. It’s going to be tough going back to the winter weather. Hope it hasn’t snowed any more.

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