Thursday, January 22, 2009

Straying Further From Home

Without a car it is necessary to explore alternative transportation. Thus it is time to experience the Panama City taxies. The first of any such trip is always with a few questions. When asking others how the taxies charge, we have been told they are metered, they charge by the zone, or you have to negotiate. That sure settles that question, huh.

There are a lot of taxies in Panama City and a lot of street noise. We have discovered early on that much of the honking is from the taxies, which honk as you are walking along, in order to get your attention to see if you want a taxi. No stinking “vacant” lights for these guys! We decide to go to one of the huge new malls on Saturday morning, so as we walk out of our building, as our street is a busy one way shortcut for every driver, the first car is a taxi that honks at us.

Of course as I climb in next to the driver, it is beyond our joint communication skills to discuss the method of charge, but I do manage to impart where we want to go. Off we go, with me again paying attention to the winding ways, so someday I can brave the “car” thing. We are headed to the Multiplex Pacific Mall which is south of the downtown in a large new developing area. It was about a 10 minute ride. I have no idea if it was one zone or more. There was clearly no meter in sight. To our great relief the fare was $2. Now these kinds of charges we can handle, to most anywhere in Panama City.

The Multiplex is a mall that compares to any that we have seen in the world. There are over 200 stores, food courts, movie Cineplex, and a wing of high end stores like Cartier, Ferragamo and the like. Everything looks very new so I suspect it probably has not been open for long. The “Worlds Greatest Shopper” found a very spiffy department store, called Felix Maduro that could cause serious damage if we get back there very often. The taxi back to the condo, in the exact same distance, cost $3. I may have paid a gringo tax!

The afternoon was spent initiating our pool up on the roof. We met a couple of guys from Vancouver, B.C. who were likewise soaking up the sun. It is nice to talk with someone who has been around for awhile. The great discovery was that we can drink the water! No need for stocking up on all the bottled water. Of course they were drinking beer, so who knows if they drink the water straight.

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