Went down town this morning to look around at what David has to offer. I took a $2 cab ride to the bus terminal first to see where I would need to go to catch the bus to Almirante where you have to go to catch the water taxi out to Bocas del Toro. It’s on an island, you know.The terminal is a pretty good sized place and I thought it would be best to be prepared after having spent two hours in the wrong spot in Santiago my last trip.
I walked around the down town area for about an hour. David is the second (or third depending on which link you click on) city in Panama. Downtown is a bustling place crammed with small shops and large, too, for that matter. On the outskirts of downtown there is a KFC (gasp, choke), a Pizza Hut (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit), a TGI Fridays, a Do It Center (the Panamanian equivilant of Home Depot) and other larger chain stores.
But there’s only so much you can see on foot, so I decided to spend $10 on a taxi to drive me around. I figured an hour would be sufficient to give me a taste of the place and would stretch the limits of my Spanish knowledge if the driver didn’t speak any English. He didn’t.
I was semi in luck. I asked how much he would charge for an hour of his time. If he said less than $10 I’d be a winner, but that’s exactly how much he said. Since I had decided before hand that that was an acceptable amount, if he thought he got one over on the gringo by asking for ten, then so much the better for both of us.
He drove me all around the downtown area which was a lot larger than I had thought walking around on foot and then we went a bit further afield through nearby neighborhoods and I got to see what the housing was like. Most of what he showed me was middle class, smaller homes that he said could be rented, when they were available, for around $150 to $200 a month. Quite similar to what equivilant housing goes for aroung Chitre and Los Santos.
I only took a couple of pictures downtown.
The fountain in the central park:
Tobacco for sale in the street
There were eight or ten people on one side street selling this tobacco. Each bundle weighs about a half pound and the guy selling this quoted $4 a pound. Since I wasn’t in the market, and didn’t ask any of the other vendors I suspect that was probably a gringo price.
After wandering a bit more and getting a cheap lunch I hailed another cab to bring me back to the hostel. The driver was a young guy who spoke fairly good English. He had lived for about six months in Miami and for three months in Minnesota, working on a dairy farm. “Why,” I asked, “did you want to live in Minnesota?”
“I wanted to see what snow was like. Now I have and I don’t need to see it any more. It got down to 25 degrees below zero one morning. It took me about six months to thaw out when I got back home,” he said.
Across the street from the hostel where I’m staying was this old house. I thought the construction was interesting. It wasn’t typical of the houses in the area which are all modern but I suspect this is what they all looked like years ago:
I also find the flowers and trees down here quite fascinating, too. This is right in front of the hostel. Greg, the owner of the hostel says that all the branches are cut down each year at the end of the rainy season and then they spring back again when the rains start back. Unfortunately he doesn’t know what this tree is called.
Tomorrow I head to Bocas.