14/06/2010 - The Ruins

Went for breakfast in my hotel and looked over the balcony, for a second I thought I was back in Barcelona, the view looked just like Tibidabo from my flat there.

I was back at the ship for about 9am as there were murmurings about going surfing and I really had the urge to get out of Panama and a surf trip was the perfect excuse.

I bumped into a group heading off for breakfast and internet and jumped on the bandwagon, we found a bar on the dock not far from the ship and sat there internetting (yes I think it is now a verb!) and chatting about plans for the day.  I understood that Rebecca was leading a surf trip at so at 11pm so at 12 I was back at the ship and ready to go, only to be told by Rebecca on her return that they were going tomorrow instead,.. damn, damn, damn!!

So instead I hooked up with Niko (accident waiting to happen) and Fred (Mike) and we decided that we wanted to go to the ruins of Old Panama, which was the old Panama city ransacked and destroyed by pirates in (can’t remember when exactly!).  We managed to get a cab there for 4 dollars only to find the place was closed on Mondays,.. typical!  However, there were people wandering around inside and we were advised by a random worker there to ask the security guard and see if he could let us in.  On asking him, the guy explained that he was just kicking some people who came in over the fence on the other side, with a wry smile I told him that we could have come in over that side and he could kick us out in 40mins if that would be ok.  He agreed for 10 dollars for the 3 of us!  Result!  So we dashed him the cash in a surreptitious handshake and were swiftly ushered through the gate in the understanding that he never let us in!

The ruins were fascinating, but they were just that; ruins, and there wasn’t too much information available outside.  There is a museum there too, but I think it would have been considerably more complicated to bribe our way in there than the outside ruins!  If anything it gave us the opportunity to feel like we had left the city as it really was a very lush area and as long as you ignored the skyscraper landscape towering above the treeline, you could almost feel like you were on the outskirts of a rainforest!

We managed to hail a cab from outside the ruins and discovered we were passengers in the cab of a policeman who moonlighted as a taxi driver.  Now this guy was the epitome of everything a policeman shouldn’t be, we asked him if he could recommend a bar where we could get something cold to drink and he immediately tried to convince us to go to a bar he knew where you could get girls to do anything for you, at a price…  he even decided to pick up a girl who looked like she was heading into the centre and herd her into the cab with us, so that we could have some female company, she was about 14!

We managed to discourage him from taking us to a whorehouse and he dropped us at a bar not 5 mins walk from Fred’s hotel which was perfect, a typical Panamanian bar, football and booze everywhere, and we sat and enjoyed a couple of bottles of beer before Niko and I decided we should get back to the ship to find out what the plan was for dinner.

On returning to the ship there were a group interested in going to the Casco Viejo for a final meal and we headed out en masse to find a place to eat.  In the Plaza Mayor we discovered a nice restaurant with a large outside table and installed ourselves.. the food was good and reasonably priced, but the tasty jugs of sangria jacked the price up unbelievably as 10 jugs at 20 dollars a pop really make a difference!

I don’t know why, but people were exhausted again and most people were pooped enough at 10.30 to want to head back to the ship and bed!


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