Panama: The ‘Bridge’ to South America

RTSA Panama FFWell, it has been quite some time since I have posted – it has been a whirlwind of a new year for me. I have been to three new countries and one new continent, boy am I one lucky girl! I am going to start a small segment called ‘Road to South America‘ as this last trip in February marked my first time going to South America. I fell absolutely IN LOVE with the vibrancy and culture whilst visiting and I cannot wait to go back!

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Now, why was I head to South America? Basically I work for the coolest company in the worldInternational TEFL Academy, that trains people to teach English around the world! (We do so much more, just ask me!) As you know, I spent the last four years doing just that and to now help people live their dreams and do what I once got to do is one of the best jobs ever! I clearly have found my niche, much to many people’s surprise! It still doesn’t even feel real to me. Anywho, as a perk of working tirelessly (yet happily!) throughout the year, meeting goals, changing peoples lives, etc. the members are awarded/earn a company trip. Last year before I joined they went to Nicaragua, this year it was to Colombia, with a stop in Panama!

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Panama City is home to one of the largest airports connecting North America and South America. We planned our trip to have a seven hour layover in Panama City to drink see the sights and explore a new country. While the customs at the airport can take quite a bit of time, depending on when you arrive, it is smooth sailing once you get out. It is easy to get a taxi to take you to the heart of the city, old town, or even the canal! You can hire a taxi for the day or have them pick you up at a certain time, for around the same price as the ‘Hop on, Hop Off’ buses or less depending on the size of your group! We opted for a van that fit eight of us and headed on down to Casco Viejo.

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Casco Viejo is the historic district of Panama City. It is a World Heritage Site and was completed in the 1670’s. There was an original settlement there from the early 1500’s that was set on fire and mostly destroyed before pirates came to attack. A lot of the foundation is from the 1670’s and it does look like you are stepping back in time with many of the facades still intact. What were once homes are now stores, restaurants, and bars – an easy tourist trap, but what can you do when on a seven hour layover?

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Our taxi driver so graciously took us to his friend’s a restaurant, with very cool decorations, and expensive food, but after getting up at 4am and flying 4.5 hours to get there, none of us could complain. They had cold beer and drinks, so we didn’t mind. The rest of the day was spent wandering the beautiful streets of Casco Viejo and drinking at a beautiful bar on the ‘water’ overlooking ‘new’ Panama City.

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I planned to visit the Panama Canal on our layover on the way back from Colombia, however sure enough I got sick and ended up resting at the airport for the duration of the layover. 🙁 Apparently the canal was going under maintenance that day so no boats were going through, so I guess I didn’t miss too much, but still would have been great to see a piece of history. Maybe next time!

 

Next up, my first adventures in SOUTH AMERICA – stay tuned.

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