Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Road Trip to the West

We decided to drive the Pan-American Highway to the west toward Costa Rica. Everything went well for the first half the day. We made it through town without getting lost, and then drove over the canal on the Bridge of the Americas. We were sort of trying to check out the beaches on the Pacific. It was a surprise that the road was a four laner and although it had a lot of rough spots, there was a lot of work going on to keep it in semi-decent shape.

Panama is really touristically challenged, as it is very hard if you are a non-native to find anything. There are no signs to the beaches, few road signs, often on identification of the towns you are in, and this is not made easier by the poor maps you might have. A well publicized beach and golf club development is the Coronado. We drove into it and found some very nice homes and some high rise buildings under construction. However, the roads were seriously deteriorated and of course no signs. We were again unsuccessful in finding a beach and got so lost that it took us about an hour to get back out.

Heading back to Panama City we found a freeway that we missed on the way out, so it was a much quicker trip. We cut up on Highway 2 across the Centenniary Bridge and down to the Miraflores locks. This time we went in and watched the ships going through the locks, including the Celebrity Cruise Line’s Mercury. It is fascinating to watch the little train engines (called mules) pulling the ships into the locks. The cruise ship had about 3 feet on each side of the ship, so it was a tight fit. We stayed to watch the history movie which fortunately was in English.

As we left Miraflores we carefully studied the map in an attempt to actually find our way back to the condo. Hope springs eternal! Our planned quick cut on the Corridor Norte went array when we missed the exit and ended up struggling across a lot of Panama City in an attempt to get back to the Cangrejo neighborhood. Mary Ann is getting just a bit testy with the no signs or directions, thus leaving you with a lot of questions of just where you actually are. Each trip out is kind of like entering a maze. We are glad we do not have a car for the whole vacation.

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