Don’t worry I wasn’t arrested, at least i wasn’t really anyway but I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Having arrived in Panama City in the very early hours of the morning feeling quite tiered, as soon as the metro opened (at 0500) we went to leave the bus terminal but before we could do that we had to buy a travel card (similar to a London Oyster Card), at $2 for the cards and $0.35per metro ride (or $0.25 for a bus journey) so it’s really not too expensive. Even though there wasn’t a metro station that near my hostel I got on it anyway as we were struggling to work out the bus system, so was a Argentinian girl whose native language is Spanish so I stood no chance and just bit the bullet and made up the distance by walking. The hostel was the hardest place to find ever, it was tucked away in a wealthy ‘suburbia’ area and had no sign indicating it wasn’t just a normal house, add to the fact that 95% of roads aren’t labeled it took me forever to find it and i had done 3 passes of the road before deciding it was the correct one and then trusting that the house number was correct on booking.com otherwise I would be ringing the bell on a random house at just gone 0600, thankfully it was the right house and they were awake and very friendly, it was also thankful that the owner let me check in so early even though check in is meant to be 1400. After changing I went for breakfast and a coffee before walking the not so direct route (thanks to the lack of road signs again) to the far side of the city, Casco Viejo, where the metropolis that is now Panama City started when the canal was first being built, just over a hundred years ago; as you’d imagine there were plenty of old buildings and narrow streets to accompany the great views back across to the city with the numerous skyscrapers adorning the skyline.
This is where my day gets interesting, ever since I have read about the Panama Canal in various school text books and numerous Guinness Book of Records I have been fascinated by this impressive feat of engineering and couldn’t resist a look at it, unfortunately it was how I went about it, apparently you’re not allowed to walk along the Pan American Highway onto the famous American bridge which spans the canal. I had made it to the centre of the bridge when I saw the blue lights and a wail of the siren and then moments later the police car pulled alongside and I was told in no uncertain terms I was told to get in in Spanish but it didn’t take a linguist to work out what they wanted, which of course I did. I think that had I decided not to then I think I might have been arrested. Anyway once we had driven off the bridge they pulled over and asked where I wanted to be dropped, I said anywhere was fine so they dropped me where we were. It was fine by me and after a handshake with one of the Police Officers and a muchos gracias from me I was on my way. I did however end up walking through a neighborhood which clearly hadn’t seen a white tourist walk through there in a while, if ever, but I didn’t die or get mugged so nothing to complain about really. The way I see is the police saved me 15 of walking which I am grateful for if nothing else (plus I have some pretty unique photos).
The rest of the day was less exciting but still thoroughly enjoyable and as always interesting when discovering a new city. I was thankful for the shower I had as soon as I got back to the hostel, I could feel the layers of sweat and dust wash off me and I even treated myself to a complete set of clean clothes for dinner as I had done some washing earlier on in the day. I’ve also found a new post dinner part time, find a 5+ lane highway, gauge vehicle speed only by headlights and run across (be careful not to get hit).
Tomorrow I hope to see the locks in operation and maybe I will settle for a cab instead of a cop car.