November 4th, 2011
As I expected, getting to Panama Passage was a little tricky. City maps are definitely something I would recommend, for travelers who are planning to enter any cities. The ride there was nice enough, despite the threat of rain
I rode over the Bridge of the America’s (but for some reason didn’t take a picture), the off onto the side roads of western Panama City.
Not really sure what they are trying to say here, but I think it involves a boat.
Stopping to check my directions frequently I found my way to the right street, and guess who was already there?
David and Doug, washing their bikes. I said they could wash mine too, but they passed on it.
I had been thinking of camping while staying, but was (perhaps easily) talked into a room. I was waiting for parts to arrive to replace the rear suspension, and the brakes. The front was getting close to the ‘replace’ line, and since I was having parts shipped anyway I added them in. The parts had actually already arrived in Panama City, but hadn’t cleared customs yet and I wasn’t sure how long that would take (The FedEx website said a week, but I seriously hoped not).
Once I had settled in, sort of, David suggested a hike to the top of Ancon Mountain. He had been told by a cab driver you could see both the Pacific and Atlantic from there, and that you weren’t allowed to drive up so it was going to be a walk. On the way he wanted to look at the Canal Administration building. I had no idea what that even was, but agreed and we were off.
It was a holiday, and the doors were locked, but there was a guard who let us in. I didn’t think the administration building was much of a tourist location, but as it turned out it is. Mainly for these –
Murals painted in the rotunda of the building depicting the construction of the canal. They had actually just been redone (freshened up?) by a painter from Wisconsin, which I thought was cool.
The building was also air conditioned, something I would miss on the hike up the hill.
Ancon Hill is only 650 feet, but in the heat and humidity it felt a lot higher.
The hike went on and on, but as we got closer to the top the trees thinned out some and we had an awesome view of the city.
Seeing the view it from here, it seemed like the view from the top might actually be better, and it was easier to hike the last bit.
Unfortuneatly, the very top of the hill (where there is a big flag) was closed for some reason.
But the view was nice,a nd there were benches to sit on and look out over the city.
And this weird building. It looks like it should move, but it didn’t. And while the downtown area looks busy and packed, most of the taller buildings still had cranes on the top. There is something of a building boom going on, but speaking with a few locals it is getting near the end of it. Most of the new buildings aren’t selling units, and some have stopped construction altogether.
After spending some time at the top, we hiked back down, noting you could, in fact, drive all the way up. There was even a parking lot. David trying to talk a cab into taking us back down, but they are all waiting for the people they had driven up and none would go for it.
The walk back down wasn’t that bad, gravity deciding to help this time. David spotted a big black bird
I think it was waiting for people to die on the way up, so we were safe and it didn’t seem interested.
Once back down we walked back to the hostel. I walked around a little more, looking for a market to get some food, but couldn’t find it. At the suggestion of Doug and David we went to the local mall food court for dinner, which was exactly like you thought it would be, except there was no Taco Bell.