Saturday, September 09, 2023

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Touring Panama City

Here are the last photos from my stopover in Panama City.

Mostly old city ramshackle buildings, a few bus tour shots, and some near my Casco Viejo hotel.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Panama Canal

Check out some of these Panama Canal photos. I'd been to Miraflores Locks back in 1996, but I didn't really have an understanding of how the canal worked.

I was more interested in how one could put toilet paper into the commode at the visitor's center after we'd just been in a bunch of countries where we'd been instructed to put it into wastebaskets.

Anyway, the canal is a kind of water elevator for ships. I want to go through the Panama Canal on a container ship one of these days. I don't think we're allowed to--it's a bit too high security for civilians. But maybe I'm wrong and I won't have to settle for a cruise ship.


The year was 1996. I was in Panama with a group of 22 tourists, mostly Brits but some Aussies and Kiwis too, and two driver/guides and their orange-and-white overland truck. There were supposed to be 23 tourists, but one had disembarked in Belize to spend her life there (she came back after I left).

Most of the group was on an expedition from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, but I was just testing the waters for a month by joining in Antigua, Guatemala, and disembarking in Panama City.

This sort of rough travel was new to me in 1996, and I struggled with the lack of privacy, sleeping in tents, the infrequent opportunities for warm showers, and the slow pace of getting so many people moving, stopping for meals, putting up camp and breaking it down. I remember signing off in Managua and meeting the group again in San Jose. I couldn’t hack four weeks of constant company back then. I probably couldn’t now, but I did pull it off for eight weeks in 1998 on the Kathmandu to Damascus trip.

Anyway, we cruised into Panama City after a night spent camping in a muddy softball field (I slept in the dugout), and I remember the drivers telling us we’d have to unload fast. Our hotel was in an old part of town with nowhere to park the truck, and they’d have to go store it somewhere safe.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Mi Sombrero

Q: Should I buy a Panama hat?

(I know they aren't really from Panama. I read a whole book on how the best the researcher could find is they originated in Ecuador. Still, they look cool.)

Fun Spanish Tricks

Have you ever asked the wait staff for la Cuenca? 

I told you I got up early.

The Agony

I’m on a plane to Panama at 4:40 a.m. 

What idiot booked a 5:13 departure? (Points at self.)

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Day Trip to Suchitoto

I spent the day in the colonial town of Suchitoto, which isn't that far from San Salvador, but takes more than an hour on the bus because of the constant stops for passengers to hop on and off.

Starting in Kaleo Hotel, I got an Uber to the bus terminal where I caught the #129 to Suchitoto. Traffic in San Salvador is beyond shocking, and sitting in the diesel plume of a bus hasn't gotten any better in all the years it's been since I last encountered one.

In the Uber, we passed a man juggling in an intersection. Another man selling steering wheel covers car to car. People improvise, do what they can to survive. In some ways, San Salvador feels like Manhattan in the 1980s.

But then I'd get a glimpse of corrugated steel, of chickens and stray dogs, and a whiff of damp air, the smell of sweat and dirt and vegetation mixed with the diesel. 

Long Weekend in El Salvador

Good morning! I’m on the 129 bus from San Salvador to Suchitoto to see what I can see. How’s your Saturday shaping up?