Blue Water Blogging Days 7 & 8 – Panama City
After our introduction to Central American culture on Costa Rica, we again returned to the Coral Princess for a sea day yesterday. Our days have now settled into a routine. After being out for a long day in Costa Rica, we slept in. For those of you who are accustomed to seeing us on line at 6 am, you realize what a change in routine this is for us.
The attraction for the day was the brown boobies and frigate birds who are flying past the ship grabbing the flying fish that are startled by the ship’s passage. The brown boobies were so named because since they first discovered ships, they rest on the rigging and were easily caught by early sailors. We were told that boobie is a form of Spanish meaning stupid.
The boobies and frigate birds gracefully glide through the air on the wind, easily passing the ship. When they pass by, it is hard not to be amused by their clown like faces and expressions.
We also enjoyed another wine tasting by the sommelier. The feature was Caymus Reserve, which sells for $155 a bottle. If you choose to buy a bottle on board, the sommelier will happily open it at your table. This will not be happening for us, but we did enjoy the taste. The other discovery was Spellbound by one of the younger Mondavis.
Today we visited new and old Panama City. Old Panama city was destroyed by Henry Morgan the pirate, who is not held in high regard since he killed and enslaved hundreds of inhabitants. No need to look for Captain Morgan rum in Panama! Only ruins of old Panama City are left. The inhabitants attempted to discourage Henry Morgan by burning the city. The problem was it was impossible to burn the gold. The city was then moved to a different area, and that city is still in use today.
New Panama City is known as the Dubai of South America and includes a Trump Tower. Just like Dubai, an island is being built to make more land to build on. Panama City is an interesting mix of sky scrapers and older buildings. Since Panama City is also a World Heritage site, many older buildings are being gutted and rebuilt saving only the facade.
Panama City is a regional banking hub with over 100 banks having a presence. One side of town has luxury auto sales and another has shopping areas for the poor. The year 2014 is a magic year. That year, the expansion of the canal will be complete, the subway system of Panama City will be complete, and many renovation projects will be complete – or so everyone believes. Unless new projects are found, the double digit expansion of the economy will fall to 4% because so much construction will stop. It is hard to imagine so much will be completed in three years.
Since Princess made its reservation a year ago, we will make our transit of the canal tomorrow. We plan on champagne breakfast in our stateroom and made our sign to hang off our balcony so the ship videographers will capture us on the cruise video. (Since our puppy is now more mature, we are hoping he will not eat this one like he did our Transatlantic DVD.) More shortly on the Panama Canal backstory!
Yvonne & John