Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day Two - The Panama Canal and A Run In with the "Policia"

Day two was the day that I was looking forward to the most of this trip... why's that? Day two, after all, was the day that we were going to be visiting...

The Panama Canal!

I mean, can you imagine?? Being able to see something in person that has played such a significant role in US history... lkdsjfls! Oh, I couldn't WAIT. Seriously, I just KNEW it was going to be the BEST THING EVER. Aside from the Canal, well, we didn't really have much of a plan for the day, so it was going to be interesting to see how we were going to be able to occupy our time...

No need to worry about that just yet though! We had the Panama Canal to explore! Bright and early on Thursday, we got ready and headed off for our first "touristy" excursion of the trip. I was so excited, I could barely sit still on the 45 minute cab ride. As we headed out of the hotel, we figured we would just do what we did yesterday and loiter around, waiting for a cab to arrive (surprisingly, cabs were pretty easy to come by in our location). We didn't even have to wait five minutes before a cab showed up... and that's where we were introduced to Eddie, who remained in our lives for the duration of the trip.

Okay, so upon initial impression, Eddie was just this adorable little Panamanian cab driver- so eager to share his pearls of wisdom with the Spanish speakers of our group. Although we had initially agreed to have him drop us off and pick us up at the Panama Canal, we ended up keeping him all day long. Yes, he was just that adorable (or so we thought).

Things were looking good for the day- we had our personal chauffeur all ready and set... and we were off to the Panama Canal!! What more could we want?!?!

Here we go!

After we made it through security and the "main building" (which houses a museum), we finally made it to one of the greater marvels of our time...

Okay. So let's take a step back here... THIS. WAS IT?

There had to be more... maybe the pictures would paint a more telling picture than what I was actually seeing?

Yeah, no. I can safely say that the Panama Canal is ONE. GIANT. BUZZKILL. There is absolutely no need for people to go out of their way to see this thing... it was not only boring, but UGLY! I mean, have we ever heard of crystal blue water or ANYTHING of the sort? Come ON, people!

Sigh. Talk about devastation. Thankfully, I'm a big museum person, so I figured I'd at least get to absorb some of the history of the Panama Canal in the little museum that's housed right next to the Canal...

So much for paying attention. We got a little distracted, what can we say? In any event, the museum turned out to be just fine and dandy... again, nothing to really write home about, but it was at least better than the Canal itself (doesn't take much, really). How fun is this picture?

Well, after that total buzzkill of an experience, our boy Eddie was ready and waiting to take us back to the hotel. However, after hearing how disappointed we were with the Panama Canal, he recommended that we try to hit up Metropolitan Park- just to enjoy some more pretty views and nature-y delightfulness. Sure, it was a little warm (read: HOT) since it was late morning, but what can we say? We had no plan, so why turn down this opportunity?

On our way to the park, Eddie drove us down the "Causeway", which is this super scenic highway that people can ride bikes and go for walks along.

Ah, dear Eddie- ready and waiting...

After several stops along the causeway to take some pictures (this is what happens when you travel with three photographers), we finally ended up heading over to Metropolitan Park.

So, note to self- if ever you are planning to do an impromptu hike, come prepared with at least SOME of the basics... because hiking in dresses and flip flops certainly proved to be... shall we say, interesting?

The park turned out to be GOR-GEOUS though! Hiking is my absolute favorite outdoor activity so I was in such a happy place.Sweaty, sure, but happy all the same.

By the end of the hike (aka: when we were coming downhill), flip flops began to take its toll on dear Rahima. The girl who ironically has the greatest balance out of all of us skidded twice- considering she has a bad ankle as it is, we were NOT going to be taking any chances. Human crutches, it is...

Teamwork and all that, if you will.

After such an eventful morning/early afternoon, we ended up heading back to the hotel area to decompress, grab some lunch and... get ready for our evening. We'd been recommended to have dinner at Alberto's- a nice little Italian restaurant right along the Causeway, with some pretty legit white sangria. Twist our arms, really.

After resting up for just a bit, we started getting ready for our night out... so this is wherein my fatal flaw lies. If you know me at all, you know that I could not care less about hair, makeup, "getting ready" to go out, etc... I don't know- something was lost on me at birth, I guess. But, well, when you're with three other girls, who actually enjoy getting all dolled up (they clean up very nicely, I have to say!)... well, when in Rome and all that. I'd actually brought a couple of dresses along so I was able to pick out what I was going to wear pretty quickly. But it was as these other girls started whipping out their makeup that I just kind of looked around blankly.

I never wear makeup (except for like some powder). I just never understand the point and quite frankly, the effort that it takes to put this stuff on... the thought just exhausts me. So when Rahima (who does her eyes every single day... I know, RIGHT?!) asked if she could "do my eyes", I figured, yet again... when in Rome and all that.

And I have to say- holy mother. It's amazing what a little makeup can do to people! At the risk of sounding completely narcissistic... I loved my eyes! I couldn't stop staring at them! I couldn't believe how quickly Rahima was able to "transform" my FACE, by doing my eyes!

But I digress (can you tell how excited I was about this revelation though??). Soon enough, we were all ready to head out to Alberto's.

Unfortunately, Eddie wasn't ready and waiting when we were ready to leave the hotel so we ended up going with the first cab driver we found... sure he looked like he was about 12 years old, but whatever- a cab driver's a cab driver's a cab driver, right?

WRONG. I guess some cab drivers need to learn how to abide by the law... turns out our 12 year old cab driver actually didn't have a taxi license and was quickly found out/pulled over during a random police traffic check...

Well, that was a fun little half hour diversion from our originally planned activities... oh well, once we had snagged another cab, we were able to enjoy our evening...

You know, the usual.

And, when all was said and done, we were still in bed by like midnight. So much for going out (which we really were originally intending to do!)...

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