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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Apr '10

Day Three: Tire (Blow) and Colon (Blow).

Or maybe the title of the post should be “Three Buses and a Black Jesus”.

Total was a whole lot of time on buses, not something that I like in a holiday. Doesn’t help that I have to share unlike the Copper Canyon trip where I had two seats to myself. Oh well.

An early morning of up and out at 8am, which for practical purposes means up at 6, luggage ready at 7, then off to breakfast.

First stop this morning was the sleepy colonial town of Portobelo, an old gold/silver route city defended with forts, sacked by Henry Morgan (hence, Capt. Morgan rum), and originally a stop of Sir Francis Drake himself who is buried off a small island in the harbor in a lead casket.

Portobello has been around since the 1500’s and these days is known for the procession to see the Black Jesus. It seems that the Catholics were doing their conversion thing and sent them a Jesus with more appropriate coloring to the locals.

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And then the bus trouble started. A loud bang… dog? Nope, inside rear tire. Slow down, keep going towards Colon where we rendesvous with another bus to take us to lunch at the Radison Colon 2000 (the port).

After another buffet meal we were treated to another, as the Senior Colonel would say, a folkloric show. I was in the restroom while the young men were changing. Talk about dawdling in the loo.

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It does seem odd to see all these folkloric shows in hotel conference rooms and lobby bars.

And after a little shopping at the mall next door (did you know you can get rum in a 1 liter juice box — that would have been handy for the Grand Canyon Trip)… wait for it…. another bus. We are now up to three different buses for the day. I will say one thing, even with the problems, we are only running about 1-1.5 hours behind where we should be.

No stops in Colon proper for “safety reasons”. Apparently Colon is the much poorer relative to Panama City, but still has some of that old world (and now fairly tatty) charm.

Next up it the Gatan locks where we don’t disembark, and the drive-by of some of the construction of the new larger canal that is slated to open in 2014, and then onto the Raddison Summit Hotel and Golf Course… in the middle of a rain forest preserve. Not sure how the got to build here — maybe it’s just a Panama thing.

The hotel is brand-spanking new — to the point that not all the landscaping is finished but I only noticed that from my balcony with the view of the top of the towers supporting the Bridge of the Americas (which we see tomorrow and is featured on the license plate I bought as a souvenir). And man, what a shower — it’s small river rocks on the floor, a nice feel to the feet:

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Went down to dinner at 7 with my latest book: Esperanza’s Box of Saints and found a quiet table for a bit, until more tour folks can to chat and eat. At least I have them trained to leave me alone in the morning while I read and have breakfast.

Dinner was yet another buffet… with 44 people on the tour, that’s about your only sane option. Ordered a couple of glasses of wine and on the third the waiter asked if I wanted to just buy the bottle, said yes, and because of some accounting thing he brought me a fresh bottle which I thought he’d just start pouring from, but, no, I got it, plus the three glasses for $20. I have enough left over for tomorrow’s dinner wine!

Back to the room to watch CNN on the 37″ LCD TV — you can see the room tour by clicking through on yesterday’s scoller bar.

Out by 9am tomorrow, gee, I get to sleep in to 7am!

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