It’s a long way home!
Almost everything is easier when you live in paradise — cooking and cleaning aren’t as tedious, eating healthy is fun rather than feeling like a diet ,even work is better. In fact, the only thing I can think of that a place like Boquete doesn’t remedy is the longing to see family, so when a trip to the West Coast came up, I made sure that I’d be able to spend some time with my daughter Melanie, in Oregon. It was not a simple thing to do. Getting there involved:
Walk to the bus station — 10 minutes
Bus to David (pronounced “da-veed”) — 45 minutes (old American school bus, no a/c or heat, but luckily, it wasn’t needed)
Bus to Panama City — 7 hours (fancy charter bus, comfy seats, bathroom, they played two movies, one English, one Spanish)
(At this point, I got a hotel in PC and stayed overnight.)
Taxi to International airport (45 minutes)
Plane to Houston – 4 hours
Layover in Houston – 4 hours
Plane to Portland – 4 hours
Drive to Eugene – 2 hours
Door to door travel time, excluding the night at the hotel: 21 hours and 55 minutes. About a third of the time it would take to drive there.
Not something to be taken upon lightly. The airport in David is supposed to soon have direct flights to the US — I can’t wait! And it really doesn’t matter where it flies too — we have family in the NE, Midwest, South and NW. I’m hoping for Houston, since that would make for easy transfers to the cities I’d most want to fly to.
The way back was a little easier, because I was able to fly from PC to David, rather than take a bus. I got a kick out of the domestic airport in PC, which reminds me of the commuter airports you see the States. I was so certain the guy in front of me in line was a big wig mafioso. He was 60ish, dressed in ultra-hip Caribbean clothes — white linen trousers and a short sleeve, white Sinatra style shirt. I could see a gold chain hanging around the back of his neck. At least a dozen seemingly unrelated people, male and female, came up to greet him with big hugs and lots of kisses. I was thinking he must REALLY be a bigwig, expensively dressed, knowing so many people in a public place, all of whom so obviously wanted to be on his good side. Then he turned around and I saw that the chain around his neck had a cross attached to it…he was a priest. How typical would that be in the US –being in an airport and having so many people know the priest who was waiting to buy an airline ticket??
Once I got to the David airport, I thought I was going to have to take a taxi to the bus station, then the bus to Boquete, and walk home. I asked a gringo woman my age who was traveling with her college aged daughter if she knew anything about transportation to the bus station…as it turned out, they had a private driver set up to Boquete, and offered me a ride. I joked that I was doing exactly what she and I would be telling our daughters not to — taking rides from strangers. She is a travel agent from the Philly area, getting to know Panama. They just spent a few days in Panama’s San Blas islands, which is considered a “must see” (although we haven’t yet). It’s very rustic there – no internet access, no hot water, restaurants pretty much limited to the hotels, which are mostly “all inclusive” (in quotation marks because it’s not a luxury sort of all inclusive). Their guide dropped me off right at my doorstop. Of course, Mark had considerately gone to meet me (even one bag isn’t that much fun to drag up and down these hills), and he has our only key. He came back quickly though, and man, it was wonderful to see him coming up the walkway!
My visit with Lanie and her roommates was great, more on that later, with some photos, I hope!
During Valerie’s trip to the U.S. I filled my time with some of my favorite activities; running, going to the gym, walking and eating! Actually, I guess it wasn’t much different than a typical day when she is here. Other than missing her company, of course!