Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 3: The Canal and City Tour

So what I've lacked in pictures before, I'll definitely make up for today. Today was super long and equally eventful. Started today with a tour of the city. There's such an obvious class difference here. Everyone is upper or lower class, there is no middle, and you can tell when you're driving around. You'll just be driving around, and in the course of a mile pass a shanty town boat village and multiple skyscrapers to rival the Orlando skyline (note: same size buildings, much smaller area.) Like, in this picture you can clearly see the where the skyline drops. Eduardo, our other PA, was saying that normally such sharp class division would cause a lot of violence, and that the size of Panama (about 3 million residents) is the only real reason there isn't more. There's still violence, but it's like any big city- keep your purse close and travel with a friend.

All right, I'm seriously enjoying the local cuisine. I'm drinking out of a coconut in this picture. It's not ripe yet, that's why it's green. Our tour guide said that before they're ripe, the inside is water; it doesn't turn to milk until it's grown. It was clear like water, and it sort of tasted like watered down coconut milk, but it definitely didn't taste like water. Road side stands are WAY cheaper than buying food in the city. An entire coconut cost me 65 cents. He pulled it out of a cooler, popped a hole in it, and tossed in a straw. That would never happen in the states. 
This was lunch. Clams in a "rosa" sauce. We ordered rosa because our tour guide was telling us it was a mixture of red and white, but when we said "rosa," or waiter asked "rojo?", which spawned a conversation, part Spanish part charades, about mixing the too together. Still not sure if they were cooked or raw, but they were REALLY good. Panama owns all the in the seafood and fruit categories. (We also had the best pineapple I've ever eaten after dinner this evening. It was from the store because we haven't made it to the roadside market yet, but we will within the next couple days.)

This is cerviche. It's essentially raw fish "cooked" in lemon. The acid from the lemon kills any bacteria in it, so it's still raw, but safe. There was so much lemon that the acid actually made it a little spicy. This cerviche was made from corvina, a local fish I'm not familiar with, but that made pretty good cerviche. It's not my new favorite food, but I definitely enjoyed it.

After the city tour, we went to the canal. Apparently we have an "Eco-Canal" tour tomorrow, but today was history and how the locks work.
I can't really do it justice here, but the locks are definitely a product of genius. If you have time, you should research them. There are three levels. The highest is 85 ft above sea level, then 54, then 27. We walked through the museum, and the engineering of it is amazing. I have no desire to be an engineer, but I love that certain things work that really shouldn't be possible. Like floating a boat over the middle of Panama.

After the super long tour today, we went shopping again. We bought legit food today, instead of PBJ. Lots of pasta, and some sea food and fruit b/c they're sooooo cheap here!!!!! Definite win, no question about it. I feel like I've learned so much Spanish in the last few days, it's amazing. I spoke to a woman on vacation, she was Latin in some way, but I didn't catch where she was from. She was touring by herself, so she hopped onto our tour for a few blocks. We talked about my Spanish skills, and how I wanted to get better, but I had no formal training, and Italian was mixing me up. She says I'll know it in two months, and after the interactions I had today, I kind of believe her. Pretty excited, not gonna lie. Lauren and I are speaking in Spanish to each other as much as possible, even if it's just tossing in random vocab, but it's reinforcing, so it's helpful. It's been a super long day, and tomorrow will be, too, so I'm crashing, but I'll leave with this picture. Yes, that is a HazMat suit.


  1. Also I had posted that I think anacondas are not native to Panama but it didn't post for some reason.

  2. yeah I don't know where she found anacondas online, but I preferred anacondas as a possible way to die to drug dealers or kidnappers, so I let it fly.

  3. I just wanted to point out - in paragraph 7 you used the wrong type of 'buy' in the sentence, "She was touring buy herself."

    and wanted to point out that you are BRAVE eating all that raw fish in a foreign country.....

    Love you chick!

    Anti Fran

  4. haha thanks for the spell check. Panama is good for fruit and seafood, so I'm eating as much as I can of both.