2:45 was the time the alarm went off Tuesday morning, and my first thoughts were, “Here we go!” Daniel’s family took us to the Detroit airport, and all my worries about having to get patted down or going through the body scanners were unwarranted. We made it through the regular metal detectors just fine and got to our gate in perfect timing. We took off right on time at 6 a.m. and arrived in Houston slightly ahead of schedule. I wanted a pair of wings for Natasha, since this was her first time flying, but I didn’t know where to find them and wasn’t bold enough to ask for them. :)
Everywhere we went, Natasha made people smile. She was an amazing traveler, slept on each flight, and looked at books and ate craisins the rest of the time. I learned to hand them to her one at a time so it would last longer. We were able to distract her few cranky moments so there weren’t that many fussy times. When she did fuss, it was because of being very tired, and personally, I felt like fussing too!
These pictures were during our delay in Houston even before taxing out to the runway. It POURED and we waited, and it POURED and we waited some more. At one time, the “update” from the Captain was: “Another update will be coming in half an hour.” So we waited some more.
(Not sure why she was signing “tree” at that moment…)
Other than the delay before leaving Houston, the entire trip was uneventful and went very smoothly. We arrived in Panama City around 8:40 p.m. and Daniel totally impressed me by answering questions from the customs lady in Spanish. I had no idea what they were saying! A friend who has been living in Panama City for almost a year, picked us up at the airport and he drove us around town for a bit. We saw the causeway out at the river and some very fancy yachts. Also, the skinniest raccoon I’ve ever seen hanging around the trash bins.
Before locating our bed and breakfast, we stopped by the bus terminal and had a very late supper at a cafeteria style restaurant. I was surprised at how many businesses don’t have doors. Like, the bus terminal was right beside a mall, and it didn’t really have doors…you just walk right in and there’s the food court! And, walk right out, and there’s the parking lot! It was indeed humid, but not too terribly bad.
The next morning we had breakfast on the courtyard. Again, no doors. They just aren’t needed! Our host phoned for a taxi and the three of us and all our bags got to the bus terminal. Daniel had his big backpack on his back, and he pulled the largest suitcase with the duffel bag. I carried Natasha on my front in the ring sling, my back pack on my back, the diaper bag in one hand and the camera bag in the other. I felt like we were stared at a lot. :)
Daniel found our bus for David (pronounced Da-VEED), and we settled in for the long ride up to the mountains.
…and Natasha slept through the whole thing.
The scenery is very green, with tropical plants and trees with large leaves. There were a few herds of cows, and they had HUGE droopy ears. :) I liked that! Natasha slept the whole morning, and woke up when we stopped about half way to eat. Although, we didn’t have much time (30 min.) and we didn’t get to finish all our food before the bus was leaving! So we grabbed what we could and I put some meat in a cup and took it along. Finishing the rest of the meat on the bus not only kept Natasha entertained for at least 20 minutes, but the grandma across the aisle too.
I’m afraid I was a little too nervous, tired and scared of losing something from our bags, to dig the camera out on the buses, so I didn’t get any pictures of the trip. I think there will be less hectic times ahead, and I’ll feel a little more comfortable being a photographer and a traveler, later.
Finally, we arrived in David, and it was crazy with lots of people. I attempted going to the “banos” with Natasha, but got stopped at the steps leading down, by a lady sitting at a little table. I didn’t know what she said, but got the drift after she pointed to the sign and shook her head at me, that you have to pay. Well, I didn’t have a quarter with me, so we returned to Daniel and he said, “Oh, I forgot about that.” Me thinking: “Next time, warn me!” :) Anyway, I decided I could wait and didn’t want to face that lady again, so we got on the school bus for Boquete.
When we walked down the aisle, I was searching for a place to sit among all these dark faces, and there didn’t appear to be any empty seats. A fella with a guitar between his legs made a little space for me, so I sat down and clutched the three bags that I was in charge of. Daniel sat in front of us. Natasha was still in the ring sling, and I’m ever so grateful for it! I had both arms free, and knew she wasn’t going anywhere. It had rained quite a bit, so the windows were steamy and it was just a little warm with all the people. I didn’t think there was any possible way that bus had room for more passengers, but lo and behold, MORE people got on and they made two-seated seats into three, and one-seated ones into two. Somehow, no one had to stand, and away we went. Along the way, folks got off, and more room was made available, so that opened up some breathing room.
The musician we sat beside, introduced himself as Tony. He thought Natasha was a boy, until I told him her name, and he was very sorry about that and held his head in his hands and asked her to forgive him. :) He told me all about how he wanted a boy, but his wife had a girl, and he wasn’t pleased until he saw the baby and now he loves his daughter very much. Also, he said it’s not good to fight with your wife: “No fighting! Peace! We have a beautiful 20 years together.” He also told us about Christmas in Boquete: “A beautiful time in Boquete; Santa comes and gives gifts to the children, and there are lights in the tree, it’s beautiful.” He liked the word “beautiful”.
So, we arrived in Boquete, and our landlord, Dave, picked us up at the bus station. I was ever so glad to be here, and out of all planes, buses and cars. We made an assesment of needed items and Daniel went out to the store, buying toilet paper, soap, washcloths, salt, pepper, butter, pork chops, hamburger, plantains, bananas, diapers, and detergent. He fixed our first meal here in Boquete, and it was wonderful. I do think plantains might be the whole reason we came to Panama!
Our first couple days here have been very nice, very relaxing, and I agree with everyone, the weather is great. You can go shopping multiple times a day, if needed, because you can walk only a block or two and get to the stores. People walk by ALL the time, and you can stay quite occupied simply watching the life on the street below.
Thank you for all your prayers for safe travels. God has been so good in providing everything we need, calming my fears and easing my worried mind. All our luggage made it, we didn’t lose any crayons, no one got motion sick on the planes (or bus rides) and I know all your prayers made a huge difference. Adios for now!