Panama Adventure Day 1 (July 30, 2018):
It's an adventure but also a scouting trip. Arrival day uneventful. Thankfully. Got a fast cabbie personal pickup at the aeroport. He ripped thru the traffic and I was not unnerved. Which is a funny word. Kind of like flammable and inflammable which mean the same thing, but in this case only sounds like it. That is, I was completely fine and grateful even for the speeding. He seemed like a good driver. Guess I used to drive that way. Tho not in foreign countries. And not for a while. Hahaha.
Check in normal, but the checkin lady didn't get I was due a free beer on arrival. Even when I showed her the reso. Unfazed. She asked someone else a few minutes later and we had a laugh about it, tho I had made no thing of it. Beers are a dollar so it wasn't a biggie either way, but was nice when I got it and she apologized with a smile. All good.
Thought I'd catnap around supper time, paupers hour, but turned into a sleep till 2am, which was fine. I went back to bed just after 3 and slept till 8am. Adjusted already?
Noticed on the way in the city is like a straight mix of Port Vila, Vanuatu (semi-primitive), and Hong Kong, with clusters of high-rise city. My hostel is in a suburb and quiet, but I'm thankful for that, too, at least for now, and my reso is just for 3 days, so I can decide what's best from there. But this is all still arrival day, which I never count as Day 1 as nothing much ever gets done.
Oh, and the hostel has a pet lamb, which had been brought into the front desk overnight, by the night guy, a Colombian who said it's cheaper in Colombia, almost like a tourist ad, before he mentioned the crooked cops and narcos and terrorists, which killed the ad. I said I was here because my wife was too scared to go there. But then, why would I want to either given the strength of his advertorial about it. Hahaha.
So, ... Day 1. It's the end of siesta time now, not that I had one, and I've had a good day resting, getting the local lay, and scouting. Skipping touristy things for now anyway. A mini bus for 50cents (no cent symbol on my phone haha), got me to the massive bus and taxi terminal of the area and Albrook Mall, which is a super-size mall I should mention. Everything. And big enough to get lost if your prone to that, which I'm not, but still.
I scouted pricing on food, at the super market, after walking most of the mall ground floor and finding it.
Went thru El Costco first, actually, which was by the entrance I ended up at, and again actually, after scouting the arcade by the mini-bus and long-distance bus drop, the big local busses dropped folks in a huge parking lot further off; anyway, the arcade had many banks and electronic places and some shopping and a food court and so forth and turned out to be a mini version of the big mall across the taxi and hire mini-van drop zone, but as I was saying, El Costo was like a Latin Winners.
Prices were good. $13 for a reasonable simulacrum of women's fashion jeans. $15 for a clone of men's running shoes. $3 for 'designer' T-Shirts. And so on. Not bad.
But anyway, onto the grocery scouting. I should say tho, I understood enough Spanish to get to the mall with no issues on the mini-bus as the day checkin lady has no English and less than the maid, who directed me as she understood what I was after, and the night guy, Philippe, with good English, was asleep.
Anyhow, 20 corn tortillas, $1.30; 280g ham, $1.35; a head of what we call, well 'head lettuce', $0.80 (again no cent symbol on the phone); small tube of goat cheese $4; table wine of a recognizable brand and drinkable at home thus 'table wine', $7; 500g box of gluten free corn flakes, $4.35; 300ml olive oil, $3.50; 1l soy milk $3; and so on.
Shoes wise: Nike runners, $45; Columbia hiker sneakers, $128. So mostly well less than Shanghai, excepting the Columbia backpack I price checked at $299 and which I got at a brand outlet in SH for essentially the same price.
There was something else at the grocery store that was less in SH, but it wasn't a main item and I forget it now. I didn't get to the gym today as I had hoped to. Mostly because my previous estimate that 15% of the population here spoke English was well wrong. At least in the 'burbs where I'm at. No worries. I asked the night guy who is up now, and he directed me to the school playground next door to work out. Hahaha. I guess that works. Was hoping to get my deadlift back on, but whatever. All good. Tranquilo as they say and as I've been.
The pet lamb is scared of me, or maybe all gringos. Haha. I introduced myself after having a laugh about it with the night guy. Maybe she'll be ok with me now. Maybe. I did shower and change into clean clothes after all and am busy doing laundry. Who knew lambs could be so fussy.
Which reminds me. Gringos in the 'sticks' of Panama, or the 'burbs anyway, get almost as many funny looks as if you venture beyond the outer ring road in Shanghai. Hahahahahahahahaha. Tranquilo, I guess. I was unfazed after being the object of curiosity/conjecture for so long in SH. So that's Day 1.
A few mosquitoes, but not many. After I slapped one dead on my leg, tho I saw 2, I haven't been bothered much since and nothing like the day biters infesting most of China, so fine there too. Now, as they say in Chinglesh in China, 'have a relax!' And so I will. Chillin' in Panama. Supper menu TBD at a cantina 100m away.
PS The lambs name is Lunita. I'll do my best to make friends. 😎
PPS Funny Thought of the Day Jul 30/18:
Took me 4 years to understand as much Chinese as I do Spanish, which I probably learnt in one holiday to Mexico. Hahaha. But I know enough Chinese now to know when the cab driver is saying, 'Move it grandpa!'