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Oh sorry, Today I went on a belated introductory tour of Panama City...
My tour guide was Jisella from Panama City Tours, a wiry Chinese girl with broken English and a fixed smile. Along for the tour were four Ohioan vacationing ladies and a Dutchman named Remco, nickname Martin. Remco is a friend of a friend who showed up at my apartment at 2 am last night asking for a place to crashâ€”I brought him along on the tour.
We left the Crown Plaza Hotel around 8:30 in Jisella's turquoise Ford Windstar and set out for the Panama Canal. Having been on a tugboat and everything, practically a captain myself, I was expecting the canal tour to be old hat. I was wrong. The canal museum was way better than I imagined, complete with four info-packed floors, some amazing original footage, and a virtual reality exhibit where I piloted a ship through the Miraflores Locks. There was a large observation deck and we watched two colossal ships mosey their way through the canalâ€”really pretty cool.
Our second stop was the Causeway. Having already been there and practically being a Causeway expert, I was not expecting muchâ€”but man, that place gets me every time. It's a long narrow palm tree-lined road leading out to two islands in the Pacific Ocean. Totally California. Before we left, we tried to get some water at the Duty Free shop but were denied entry by an old mumbly guy for no understandable reason.
The last stop on the journey was Casco Viejo which I have already seen, and practically know like the back of my hand. We stopped at this old church where you could almost feel the historyâ€”legend has it that when Captain Morgan was raiding the town back whenever, the locals covered their golden altar with ash. When Morgan came to burn and pillage the church he saw an already-ash altar and hundreds of crying residents so he left: a trick you may want to use to avoid any annoying personâ€”the tax man, scout cookie salesgirls, anyone really. We saw what used to be Noriega's Generals Club where they would throw large partiesâ€”what seemed like quite a nice ocean-front mansion, until the USA bombed it that is. Now it more resembles the Acropolis, just with fewer visitors.
The tour was informative. Jisella is a little encyclopedia of knowledge and when you can understand her, she's very enlightening. The Ohioans were really cool too and they laughed at all my jokes. Although I had been to each of the stops already, Panama never ceases to amaze me. It has this charm and this individuality that never gets old for me. I guess that's why I like it so much.
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