Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to survive Panama in rainy season

After a three week vacation  in Canada, I have returned to what should be rainy season, except it sort of isn't. The weather remains very warm (presently 35 degrees C) and humid. However, the wind is still mainly out of the North-east and cannot seem to make up it's mind. There have been many days in a row with no rain, then a tremendous outburst that floods the roads, then back to the hot and humid! Perhaps this is more typical than we experienced last year?

My trip was highly eventful, and for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was organized and ready for my trip. Flights confirmed, hotel bookings confirmed, rental car awaiting my arrival, and family primed. Chris drove me to our little Pedasi airport in plenty of time for the wee prop plane that would take me to Panama. Don and Connie arrived to see me off, and in no time I was in the air with my ears bombarded by the engine noise. As the only passenger, I had a full seat length to stretch out on...

Pedasi Airport Terminal

Co-pilot receiving instructions

My "private" flight

Country Inn, Amador from the air

 Despite the misty day, I could see the coastline and the City as we arrived. Sergio was there to collect me and we set off for the airport in Tocumen with time to spare. Then it all went downhill! He detoured to pick his wife up from work, and we hit a traffic jam like none I have ever seen. We literally crawled to the airport! Bumper to bumper with occasional cars pulled over, and my frustration grew greater with each kilometer. We arrived at Tocumen 10 minutes before my plane was due to leave! Needless to say, ignoring my pleas, I was not allowed to be processed and missed the 6:48pm flight!

The next few hours were not pretty. Frustrated, annoyed, somewhat irrational, I protested, pleaded, ranted, begged and argued with everyone in sight as they all began to leave for the day. Some tried to help but as I had booked through Aeroplan, no-one could change my flight bookings, and I could not reach the contact numbers I had been given. I finally announced that I would sleep on a bench in the departure area, and accost them all again in the morning! (There were different staff there on Saturday am.)  After an uncomfortble night on a bench while cleaners worked around me, I managed about three hours of dozing. At 6am, I sought food and found a cafeteria open and grabbed eggs, sausages, juice and tea. Cost? Over $12.00! And it tasted cold and horrible.

Somewhat fortified, I started to seek a way to get to Vancouver. It took a lot of time and wrangling, and cajoling, but at last an agent at United Airlines assisted me in booking my flights. I used accumulated mileage plus points, and only paid $120 for that part of my trip. Eureka! I was on the first plane at 9:30am or so, and a delighful stew found me a HOT cup of tea. A short layover in Houston, and I was off to Vancouver on the second leg. Unfortunately, that plane was delayed and by the time I reached the car rental at Vancouver, it was past 1:00 am. Four groups ahead of me, and I left the airport after 2 am to arrive at my daughter's at 3:20am. A flop into bed, and I slept like a log. I had missed two flights, and likely lost 40,000 airmiles points, plus I was a no-show at the hotel in Mexico City. Tomorrow is another day...

to be continued

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