Panama City, Panama; Day 1

Today we traversed the entire American Continent – twice!

We left Playa Blanca and headed east toward the Canal Zone and Panama City. Instead of going straight to our next AirBnB we headed north toward Gatun Lake and the town of Gamboa. Our first view of the canal was as we crossed the Centennial Bridge over a portion called the Culebra Cut. It opened in 2004 as only the second bridge crossing the canal.

Our adventure plan was to grab some lunch then hop on a little boat from the public dock and tour the lake part of the canal. At least that was Brian and Tiffany’s plan. The kids were not interested in a boat tour. Instead, they wanted to touch two oceans in one day. We hadn’t planned on going to Colon on the Atlantic side of Panama today (or any day) but they were really excited about it and the vote was 3-2 – so what were we going to do? That’s right, we drove the 30 miles to Colon – after we watched some ships on the Canal during lunch.

Colon is a port city and the Highway that cuts across Panama dumps you out right in the middle of town. Any public access beaches were way out of our way so we tried our luck at the park at the tip of the city. As suspected there was no easy access to the Atlantic so we shimmied down the break wall to the water. Only Suaram and CreeperPuppy got directly in the water. Dad was playing lifeguard and Mom and CreeperKitty were standing lookout. A couple minutes later – one Ocean done.

Once we got to Panama City, we had to find access to the Pacific. It wasn’t lost on us that we were only a 5 minute walk from the Pacific this morning in Playa Blanca. Had we planned ahead we’d have been done with our quest in Colon. But we also would have missed out on a cool adventure in our new location.

We’re staying in Casco Viejo or Old Quarter. It’s the historic section of Panama City. It has old narrow streets and stone buildings but with lots of artisans, restaurants, parks and museums. Our quest for the Pacific was to be a quick walk through the neighborhood to a park that had a tiny beach. Brian stayed behind to figure out a way to watch the Men’s National soccer team vs Panama match that was starting any minute. But the beach was closed so our 5 minute walk turned into another 20 minutes exploring the Cintra Costera. Translated as ‘coastal strip’ it’s a walkway and series of parks that winds along the edge of Panama City.

Eventually we got our second ocean – whew. We started this morning on the Pacific, drove across the Continent to the Atlantic and made it back to the Pacific in time for dinner. Total distance about 175 miles.

We ended the day with some soccer. Mom got to take the kids on their first taxi ride back to a neighborhood restaurant showing the game. The result wasn’t great for the US team, but the food was good and we got to eat under the gaze of Jose Domingo de Obaldia. He’s Panama’s second President and a significant figure in Panama’s independence from Columbia. The kids weren’t that interested in that for tonight, they just thought it was a cool place to walk around.

We ended the night at our apartment with a little pool.

Sharks in the making

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