Monday, January 26, 2009

The Car

Not our car - but just two stalls away at the condo
The "Let's Get Lost" Car

Today I bit the bullet and rented a car. I think I have figured out the main streets and the crazy driving enough to venture forth. Those trusting people at Hertz actually gave me a Nissan Sentra to experiment with! Our criteria for a car here are an automatic transmission, a compact, and air conditioning. Maps are still sketchy. With some suggestions from the desk clerk at Hertz we roared (crawled) off to the Corridor Norte, which allegedly will take you to Colón.

We found the toll way without trouble and cruised along while Mary Ann read the Fodor book about Colón. This is the city at the Caribbean entrance to the canal, so we were heading north across the isthmus. Little did we know that the toll way ends about midpoint, along with any semblance of signage. Now, I pride myself on having a built-in directional gene, and rarely become lost or turned around. Mary Ann looked longingly for the crow for my dinner, following my having gotten turned around in a bunch of construction, and not realizing the error until we were driving into the east end outskirts of Panama City. I was a bit concerned when I saw a lot of high rise buildings which would have been unusual for Colón.

When we realized the error we weren’t too disappointed after some of the comments from the guide book. A few excerpts: “But it (Colon) spent the second half of the 20th Century in steady decay and things have only gotten worse in the 21st Century.”; “For the most part, the city is a giant slum, with unemployment at 15% to 20%, and crime on the rise.”; “Travelers who explore Colón on foot are simply asking to be mugged….”

So when we stopped back in Panama City, we decided that not getting to Colón was God’s way of telling us we were not intended to go there. Actually, I attributed the shut down of my internal compass, to the day being overcast so I had no sun for reference. It was not a total loss as we visited a supermarket and bought the heavy important stuff like rum, beer, water, and Coca Cola. As we were parking the car in the condo parking place it was an easy delivery. We were also on the east end of Panama City so we drove to the airport and checked things out for an easy pick up of our guests next week. I have to claim that my drive back to the condo was easier and simpler than Enrique’s trip our first afternoon. So where will we drive the car tomorrow and will we get to anywhere?

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