Luis’s Venezuelan visa is basically out of free pages, and can only be replaced at the embassy in Panama City. Given I had never been outside of Chiriqui, I thought that it might be a fun idea to accompany him and stay overnight in a hotel. It turned out that Gaby also needed to pick up her residency card, and had had the same idea about taking advantage of the long weekend and so we decided to make a two day family trip out of it.
We had said we were going to leave at 5am on Sunday morning, and we ended up leaving around 9am. The trip itself was pretty uneventful – we stopped at a McDonald’s in Penome for lunch, and otherwise the traffic was fairly non-existent and we arrived a little after 1:30pm. Despite being from a card window, it was really interesting to see the countryside. I know around here I feel like there is a very hard distinction between being in Costa Rica and being in Panama – but there are places in the mountains where that drops away and everything looks lush and mountainous. I remember remarking to Luis as well as we were crossing the Bridge of the Americas, that I was really happy I had come and could see all this. It definitely was a unique experience, and I don’t think I have ever seen another city quite like Panama City.
Sunday evening we tried to go to a Thai restaurant, but it was closed. We drove around, and ended up eating at Pomodoro – a restaurant Luis had eaten at before close to the hotel. Monday we took advantage of the day off, and after again trying to eat at the Thai restaurant (everything was closed!!), we went to the Multiplaza which was almost identical to the one in San Jose.
After that, we drove to Punta Culebra to see what the coast of Panama City looked like, take some family photos, and eat icecream. On the way back, we also drove through the old Colonial part of the city, which was really beautiful. I think I mentioned it seemed to me like it would be a really cool place to raise a family. It seems like there are so many activities to do, and so many places to walk around and see. All the different areas of the city seem so different. &also the food – it was so nice being able to google Thai and Indian restaurants and find results.
Monday, Luis and Gaby went to the embassy, and I worked from the hotel. I figured the hotel would be able to help us find someone to watch Alejandro – but they had no ideas. Luis and Gaby had tried callings friends and acquaintances without success as well. I finally had the idea to post on the Young Expats in Panama Facebook group, and had a few people reply that they could provide childcare. That was definitely not ideal – but in the moment I was still really glad to have been able to find someone, even if they were an internet stranger (!).
The trip back on Monday was slightly longer, as there was much more traffic. We must have left from the hotel around 12pm, and finally managed to find Sukhi Thai open. After eating, we were back on the road until stopping for a coffee in Santiago. We probably didn’t arrive back home until around 7 o’clock, and were greeted by many bugs, including at least one centipede, upon our arrival.