Friday, January 16, 2009

Why Panama?

So what is the deal with selecting Panama for the winter adventure? This year (2009) we thought it would be best to go to a country that uses the U.S. dollar for its currency. We were going to beat the weak dollar against most of the other world currencies. How could we know that the whole world would go into the tank, and result in the dollar rising against the pound and the euro and most other currencies.

In any case, off to Panama we have gone. Following the usual format of searching for a condo on the internet, I used which has properties all over the world. We hooked up with an owner in Maryland who had just taken possession of a brand new condo in the heart of Panama City. We communicated with him for a couple of months and he was very helpful with information about the neighborhood, the city, and information about the condo. Our rental even included being met at Tocumen Airport in Panama City by his Panama City manager. This really takes the tough edges off an arrival in an airport and city that you have never been to. So reassuring to come out of customs and have a gentleman waiting with a sign with your name on it.

Always being the frugal traveler, I booked this trip with Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles. It is always a bit problematical finding seats when you want them. This can make for some very unusual flights. Rather that a direct flight to Panama City (like from LA to Panama City) we were booked on American from Seattle to Dallas, Dallas to Miami, and then Miami to Panama City. Needless to say Mary Ann sometimes questions my travel planning when I end up with a routing like that. But as our friend Les says, these were very lucrative flights for us on a flight mile per frequent flyer mile invested! Good work Tom. We started on Horizon from Pangborn and were very lucky to be the first flight out of Wenatchee due to two days of fog! Dumb luck really helps.

It is quite a change to leave freezing weather on one afternoon and arrive the next afternoon in a place in the low 90’s. Finding Enrique waiting for us with an air conditioned car was a nice way to introduce ourselves to Panama City. Slow acclimatization would seem to be the way to go. Fortunately, we both felt no worse for the flights, as we both got some sleep on the overnight flights. Again great luck for me, as Mary Ann said little about the marathon flight plan!

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