Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A week in Panamá

Hello, dear readers!  Nearly a week has passed since our last blog and our days have been filled with great activities and good times.  I'll begin with El Valle.  

We started in the morning by heading to the Nispero Zoo, home to the Golden Frogs which are endangered and are known to live in only a small region of Panamá.  There were also many different kinds of pheasants which were beautiful and a two-toed sloth which was very friendly.  I think I want a pet two-toed sloth now.  

We then took a very intricately painted chicken bus to the painted stone, a centuries old petroglyph that may be a map of some sort.  We hiked up to a few waterfalls, as well.  We ate lunch at a fonda, a local cafe, and had some delicious chicken and rice.  

The next day we headed into Panama City and grabbed a cab to the Mamallena hostal.  It is quite hot in the city and very humid, so we didnt feel like moving very fast.  We went grocery shopping and walked around our neighborhood and not much more.  On Saturday, we did laundry and decided to head to the Albrook Mall at the central bus terminal to replace my pants which had a wardrobe malfunction.   We had a lovely time walking around the incredibly large mall in the air conditioning.  At out hostel, we had asked which bus we should take to return to the hostel and the girl had told us to take a bus that said "tumba muerte", but we took the wrong "tumba muerte" bus and ended up in a very unsafe neighborhood.  Luckily, there were some national police who helped us find a cab.  Apparently, we were so far away that the first few cabs didn't want to take us!  We got home safely and made some dinner and drinks to end the day.

Sunday was Palm Sunday and the whole city was basically shut down, so we spent the day relaxing and playing April Fool's jokes on our parents.  We also made friends with two Australian brothers staying at our hostel.  Monday, we went together with the Aussie's to the Miraflores locks.  We saw two large cargo boats and a passenger/tour boat go through the locks, which are really quite amazing.  We walked through the museum, which included an aquarium and insect display of local wildlife, and saw a short film on the history of the canal, which was somewhat propagandist.

After the canal, we went to Casco Viejo, the old part of town, and saw the Golden Altar, many ruins, and some beauitful art-deco style buildings.  We then walked along Avenida Balboa for a view of the downtown highrises.  It was a lot of walking and a very hot day, so we ended the tour with some Milkshakes to cool down.

While we were originally planning to stay in Panama City for passover, I have had little luck making contact with the various Jewish communities here.  Matt and I have decided to do head out on a boat to Colombia and do a mini-Seder on the sea.  We made our reservation on the "independence" and we set sail from Portobelo on the 5th, and then we will be at sea for 5 days before arriving at Cartagena, Colombia, stopping at the San Blas islands on the way.   Needless to say, we will be out of contact while at sea.

We went to the Multiplaza Mall in search of a kosher super market which no longer exists.  Luckily, the new market had matzah and Manishewitz, and that combined with some hard-boiled eggs, and charoset fixins (apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and the afore mentioned Manishewitz) will be the core of our seder.  (Matt has promised me that we'll have lamb next year!).  

We're going to upload the rest of the photos today and I'm sure we'll have plenty after our boat trip!  Happy Passover and Happy Easter, dear readers!

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