"Are you going to be okay?" my Mom asked for the 1000th time, hugging me hard at the airport.
"Sure, sure," I told her, focusing on one step at a time. I got checked in, cleared customs and got my first stamp ever on my passport - a USA stamp. Yay. It's a little thing but it represents a major accomplishment for me considering my phobia.
I grabbed a Timmy's and parked my butt on a seat while I waited to board the flight. It was then my mind decided to torture me with thoughts of imminent death that involved fiery plane crashes. Note to self: Stop watching plane disaster TV shows. I popped an Ativan and cracked open a book.
They let us board and I took my seat and strapped myself in. As the plane taxied down the runway I did I crossed myself like the Catholics do (I'm not Catholic) and said some prayers. I heard a buzzing sound and turned my head left to look for the source.
My seatmate was fast asleep, head thrown back, sawing wood in his dreams. I resisted a sudden, overwhelming urge to wrap my hands around his throat and start squeezing. Beyond him through the small glass window I watched the earth drop away and then swing sharply back into view as the pilot started twisting and turning the plane to gain altitude.
That was when I started crying. I managed not to blubber like a child, but it took me a long time to actually stop and gain my composure, by which point we had levelled off and the cloud cover offered the illusion of a floor.
I popped another Ativan and knocked myself into unconsciousness, awakening as we approached Newark. Because of the logjam of incoming flights into Halifax, we had been late departing so I didn't have a lot of time in Newark. Luckily everything was clearly marked and I made my way over to the C terminal for the 5 hour flight to Panama City.
|Nom nom nom!|
On the flight to Panama I had another crying session upon liftoff and then dozed again thanks to the meds, at least until some guy stepped on my foot which was well under my seat, in order to reach his overhead bag. He apologized but the damage was done and I read until the descent when again I had another crying / fear session.
Upon approach the flight attendants gave us immigration forms to fill out and I panicked because I couldn't answer some of the questions. I texted my brother for the info the second we hit the ground, and he contacted Dad. While I waited for Bro to text me back I dashed into the bathroom and splashed a lot of cold water on my puffy face.
I got the info card filled out and turned it in, prepared to answer questions and have my bag examined. The Customs Guy pissed me off by waving me through without a second glance. All that scrambling for nothing!
The first thing I noticed was the heat and the second thing was the smell.
I expected the heat but the air had a hot jungle smell with undertones of rotting foliage. I wrinkled my nose and climbed into the car.
Oscar drives like Nico Bellic from Grand Theft Auto after Nico has just been spotted jacking a car and is now being pursued by the cops. He is quite honestly the single worst driver I've ever been in a moving motor vehicle with, and he was our designated chauffeur for the week.
Oscar likes to rubberneck and I don't mean a casual glance at what's going on but a nice, long look wherein he turns his head and ignores the road entirely. He tends to do this at top speed, because Oscar also has absolutely no use whatsoever for his brakes except at the last moment when he roars up on another car's ass and drives them into the floor to stop mere centimeters from the other guy's bumper.
He tends to change lanes without looking, insults other drivers who must yield to him and suffer the consquences, and he accelerates into and through the on and off ramp turns while leaning so far over that part of his torso ends up in the passenger side.
On the way to their house the 3 cars in front of him were clearly going way too slow for Oscar. We were about to enter a blind turn and sure enough, he hit the gas and ran his white Cavalier into the passing lane. I did some praying and God heard me because no oncoming vehicle came around that turn and we got safely to the cabin.
"Oh shit," I said, as the 3 dogs immediately came out to greet us.
They are guard dogs, 2 Doberman crosses and a Husky. But they were unaware I was a postie and since I didn't tell them we took to each other just fine. Throughout the duration of my stay there one always slept on the porch outside the cabin where I stayed, guarding me through the night.
The beach is not really swimmable. It's all mud when the tide is out and a variety of birds like to feast on the jellyfish or small fish that get caught in the low pools or washed up on the sand. I didn't catch a snap of the vultures but they spent the morning circling over my head.
"Do they know something I don't?" I asked Dad, but he said they're always up there. I did catch a shot of one of the sandpipers who obliged me by posing for a moment.
More friendly were the bar's parrots, who like to yell "Hola" at everybody. They keep this up for quite a while before they get tired of it.
|Sandpiper on the Veracruz beach.|
|The parrots are bred in captivity, as it's illegal to own a wild parrot.|
|"Hola" seems to be the only word they know.|
|The Amodor Causeway|
|View of Panama City skyline from the Amodor Causeway|
It's probably my favorite spot to visit in Panama City. It's highly tourist oriented and very beautiful. We had lunch at an Irish Pub where I enjoyed the air conditioning and frozen lime margarita immensely. After a brief jaunt to the duty free I took some pics and we retreated from the heat back to my father's cabin.
I was already feeling a bit groggy and had a headache coming on, but I chalked it up to the jet lag. Boy was I wrong.
Anyway, click HERE for some more snaps of the Causeway, as well as snaps of my Dad's neighborhood, Veracruz.
Next up: The Panama Canal.