Homegoing - Panama


I thought I was going to Miami for Labor Day weekend, but sadly my grandmother passed away and I ended up in Panama.  I sent my closest friends a text on Aug 30, letting em know that I was heading to Panama and that I wouldn’t be back until the middle of Sept so that they wouldn’t think that I lost my hot dayym mind and was never coming back.  I challenged myself to travel light cause I would be doing a lot of moving around and didn’t feel like lugging a bunch of Ish!  That’s easy when I go home to Colón, Panama cause I like to keep my wardrobe simple… white tee every day.  The main reason?  I don’t wanna get robbed.  Walk around Colón like you have a little bit of $$$ (which I DON’T) and you will get GOT cause believe me they can all spot the new face. And when I leave I just throw away all the white tees to make room in my luggage for my shopping.
Colón has long since been a city that has fallen in disrepair, disarray… whatever you wanna call it, but now it’s going through a major renovation which can be looked at as both good and bad.  All the poor are being moved out about 20min outside of the city and all the old, run down buildings are being torn down.  Colón is home to the Zona Libre de Colon aka The Colón Free Trade Zone, it is the largest free port in the Americas and second largest in the world. Word on the street is that they are just kicking out all the poor people so they can turn the entire city of Colón into massive Free Trade Zone. Most of my family is no longer in the City of Colón so soon I won’t have a reason to go back there. 
My time in Colón was so peaceful... chillaxing on the corner, enjoying adult libations with my fam, watching their kids play soccer in the rain, visiting our very tiny secret beach that almost no one knows about cause it’s in a gated neighborhood that we sneak into & its hidden under a cliff. Would you believe that I went to church every night that I was in Colón?  Crazy right?  So glad I didn’t catch on fire.  Nightly church services are part of the mourning process after a death so to church every night we went.  Any who, here are a couple pix of me chillin in my home town, the most beautiful-est place on earth (in my eyes).
Almost every business establishment in Colón has an armed guard JUST WAITING for u to act a fool

The 2nd half of my trip was spent in the capital, Panama City. They are one hour apart, but completely different worlds.   I stayed at the Sortis Hotel, Spa, & Casino (a Marriott property) and it was phenomenal! 

The Hard Rock Megapolis remains my favorite hotel in Panama, but I don’t always have Hard Rock $$$ so my 2nd favorite is now the Sortis Hotel.  Their suites are amazing and their pool is beautiful, but nothing tops the Hard Rock location, views, suites balcony, pool, and HUGE breakfast buffet w/DIY mimosa and blood Mary bars that is included in your room rate.  When my brother Paco & I took our kids last year (Return-to-motherland-aka-panama), my nephew and I got wasted for breakfast every morning. 

My coworkers recently got married and decided to honeymoon in Cuba and Panama.  They had some Travel Agency quote them $3,000+ for a week in Panama (flights NOT included)  they asked for my assistance and in about 30min I gave them a brand new itinerary with a nicer hotel for much less than that company was charging them.  I shall share it with you in case you ever decide to visit Panama and are not sure what to do with yourself.   I find www.viator.com  to be a very reliable place to book vacation excursions no what county I am in.  It takes the fear out of searching for some random company and worrying that they are gonna scam you and you can read the reviews from other travelers.

I had initially planned to leave the capital and do some day excursions to the beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and whatnot, but I needed to stay close to reliable WIFI for purposes of not being broke and homeless when I returned to the US.   So I spent more time than I originally anticipated at the hotel pool.
Mix of work & play so I can be near the WIFI
Quick geology/history lesson for those that visit the capital, Panama City and wonder why there are no beautiful blue beaches that are to be expected when visiting Central America or the Caribbean or those that see my pix when I go home to Colón and wonder why I’m not chillin on a big, blue beach.  Colón and Panama City sit at the entrances to the Panama Canal. Nearly 240 million cubic yards of rock and dirt were excavated during the American construction phase. Where do you think that 240 million cubic yards of rock and dirt ended up??? Then on top of that, an estimated 14,000 ships pass thru the canal every year, so blame the Colonizers for the lack of blue beaches at the entrances to the Panama Canal.  But believe me Panama has plenty of amazing, breathtaking beaches, you just have to travel a tiny bit to get to them.

So my time in the capital was split between working, enjoying quiet alone time, and hanging with my fam.  Here are some pix of me in tourist mode. 
The Pollera = the National dress of Panama

Shopping in Casco Veijo

The Kuna Indians of Panama make the most unique & amazing crafts
Shopping in Santa Ana

Bridge of the Americas that connects North and South America

Waiting on ships at the Panama Canal

Its HOT!!!
Remember in an old blog I told yall Uber is DIRT cheap in Panama?  Look at this "surge pricing" when I was headed out to Coyo Taco for drAnks. lolol  PS:  Coyo Taco Wynwood Miami is still #1 in my book
I am not a fan of buying bottles in the club, but I always make an exception when I am in Panama.  They really like to drink Old Parr in Panama, I honestly don’t even know what Old Parr is (whiskey maybe?)  Any who 5 of us went out in Panama City and got a free entry into the club (clubs were charging $10/person), a section, and a bottle of Old Parr for I think $80 and a bucket of beers for like $15. BALLIN!!! For that price, Ima ball till I mutha *BEEPn* fall. I remember buying a bottle of Bacardi in Colón on a previous trip for $25.   *whoop whoop* *WARNING* if you are ever in Panama and wanna TURN UP at a nightclub, what you want to look for is a “DISCOTECH”.  A “CLUB” in Panama is actually a Strip Club, so beware and only go to a club if your goal is azz & titties.
 Panama uses US currency in regard to BILLS, but they still retain Panamanian currency in COINS.  Just wanted to show you their beautiful coins. 
My reason for returning to Panama was a sad one indeed, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time and I know my abuela would be happy that I stayed to enjoy the motherland.  RIP abuela!


I have to end the blog with a side note that is gonna sound like the biggest lie ever, but I promise this ish really happened.  Ok so on the way to Panama there was an Atlanta Falcons cheerleader seated behind us.  She saw my Falcons purse and that began a long convo about the state of the franchise.  No Biggie!  The flight home was a completely different story.  So the 1st leg of the trip I was just drinking my life away as I always do. GETTING LIT, do you hear me? LIT!!! While having a drunken photoshoot. 
Insanely quick layover in Miami cause the 1st flight was delayed and tipsy me hops on a 2nd flight to Atlanta.  Who sits down beside me, my favoritest Atlanta Hawks Basketball player #20 John Collins!!! He was so cool, I totally respect his privacy, so I will just leave that at that.  BUT would you believe when we were getting off the plane, Collins stopped to give dap to the person seated in the row adjacent from us, none other than Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez. What the bloody hell???   Now I have another photo to add to my John Collins album *hip hip HOORAY* I was floating on Cloud 9 for like 2 weeks after that.  Again, my reason for returning to Panama was a sad one indeed, but it was an AMAZING trip and I can't wait to plan my next!
Atlanta Hawks #20 John Collins






Hookie DC weekend 2018


Back to DC for Hookie weekend, I last did Hookie in 2016 when it was still the same timeframe as DC Carnival Weekend (now moved to 4th of July weekend).
I feel like every time I talk to ya’ll I’m just confessing that my level of “I aint sh*t-ness” is getting grander and grander.  Sadly this trip is no different!  I was in DC for Hookie weekend Thursday afternoon – Sunday night and I only attended two Hookie events!  Wait lemme explain!!! 

Thursday Release Therapy was 6pm – 2am which was insanely long timeframe, but Caribbean people know what’s up… show up 2 hours before event end time.  We arrived a tab bit early around 11pm (lol at 4 hours late being considered a little early) the crowd was still thin at that time, but the venue quickly got ram packed and hot as F*CK!  Seriously thought I was gonna have a heat stroke, but we relocated right under an air vent and proceeded to dance our lives away. Like they say in real estate, “Location, Location, Location“
Friday Hookie – Sadly the weather was NOT on our side for Hookie (an outdoor fete), but the great thing about Caribbean people is that they don’t give a mutha *BEEP* about rain “Wet Fete”  A wet fete is like having the freedom of jouvert without having to find blue paint in your ear weeks after the fete. Hookie was everything, that’s all I need to say!




We had discussed going out Friday night, but in true old people fashion we didn’t go anywhere and instead slept our lives away. We did however wake up around 1am, jammed to some chunes, drank a bottle of champagne,  and sat around in the kitchen laughing about nonsense, then went back to bed!  You know what??? It was frekkin fantabulous!!!  I seriously don’t have the mental nor physical capacity to fete sun up to sun down when it’s not carnival.  My body wants to chiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllllllllll!!!




Lions Pride Jouvert Saturday morning - I mainly wanted to skip jouvert for one “I aint sh*t” reason. I was only traveling with a backpack and didn’t wanna bring the items necessary for jouvert. I was flying on Hidden City fares cause I didn’t purchase my flights to DC until the week prior and you know what that means regarding flight prices. Here is a definition of Hidden City Fares for those that don’t know, “Hidden city ticketing" can offer steep discounts on airfare. Basically, you book a flight past your destination, with your target destination as a stop on the route, and save more than if on the direct route.” This travel method is a tricky game you play with the airlines, I wouldn’t encourage it if you are not a risk taker and don’t know how to travel light.  After I returned home from this trip, I actually has a nightmare that the airline send me an invoice for $1,000 for all my recent Hidden City Fares/Travels.

 

Instead on Saturday morning my chica Charmaine made me a grand breakfast and we got lost off the sauce aka champagne, then took our tipsy azzes shopping. Not sure why cause it’s not like I had any room in my backpack to bring anything home.  Saturday afternoon we went to Soca Loco and even though the fete was inside we spent the entire time drinking and chatting the afternoon away on the rooftop.




Saturday evening we went to the DC carnival experience event Xen Live with King Bubba, Freeze, and Turner. You know how when you attend a carnival you leave with a song that just resonates in your mind and you have a bunch of memoryz attached to it?  Well Turner – Champions was that song for me when I left Trinidad 2018 carnival so it was awesome to see him perform it in DC.    




Sunday afternoon while everyone else was at Riddim & Road we went to a bottomless brunch.  Riddim & Road is a cute concept kinda like Bacchanal Road or Las Lap in Trinidad where everyone wears an old carnival costume and relives Road March wotlessness.  Having no room for such attire in my backpack, I proceeded to get drunk outta my mind at brunch and slept almost the entire day away. Sh*t I was about 15min away from missing my return flight home.  It was the last flight of the day and that would caused me major problems cause like I said, I was traveling hella bootleg on a hidden city fare. 




And just like that my friends, Hookie weekend was a wrap. Always a great time seeing my carnival ace Charmaine that I actually met On Di Road Trinidad carnival 2011.  Until we meet again DC.



41st Bday in MIA

For my 41st birthday I decided to take a last minute vacay, but after taking my big trips for the year (1) Trinidad carnival with a mini extended layover in Panama and then (2) Jamaica carnival I now realized that I am poor.  I make a cost estimate spreadsheet for every tip I take cause I need to see that the dollars make sense ¢. I debated going home to Panama or back to Jamaica or Cancun, but my spreadsheet told me to go my favorite affordable city MIAMI even tho I went there in January and February.  The travel snobs tell us that Miami is played out and we need to get our passport stamp game up... to them I say, “Eat Poo!”  There are so many things to do and see in Miami, how could one ever get bored with it?


So off to Miami I went by myself the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I know so many people that live down there so I am never truly alone.  Even tho my hotel was on South Beach and I was a mere steps form the beach, like a lazy mofo I just chilled on the roof of the hotel, boozing at their pool.  Times like this I remember that, “I aint sh*t!”  I always end up in Miami on Tuesdays cause I love going to Rum & Bass at Coyo Taco in the Wynwood Art District.  Oh how I enjoy NOT partyin in South Beach anymore, I don’t have to dress up and wear heels.  Wynwood spots say, “Come as you are, drink & be merry.  My homie came thru and scooped me and we had to stop for a quick photoshoot in Wynwood. The amazing art in Wynwood is forever changing so when you see some art that you like, you have to snap a pic cause it could be gone the next time you are there. 

Wednesday morning I was up at the crack of dawn and on a double decker bus to Key West (found on Groupon for $28).  Not sure why, but Key West has always been on my list of places that I wanted to go b4 I croak.  I packed a backpack fulla rum, took lots of tourist pix along the famous Seven Mile Bridge, bought a trolley tour around the key/island, of course took a pic in front of the famous Southernmost Point Landmark, did some on -oot touring, and then spent a few hours at the beautiful blue beach.  The beach was sooooo blue, it most def did NOT feel like i was in the US.  I had initially debated spending the night in Key West, but glad I opted for a same day trip because I think I woulda been bored by day 2.  Slept on the ride back to Miami and then freshened up and hit the Wynwood area again.  I was on my way to Wood Tavern ( a very eclectic spot where you see the most randomest things, but the drinks are super cheap), but passed by Coyo Taco in route and could hear some wicked Roots Reggae blasting and my body floated inside. PS: It was awesome!  I spent all Wednesday by myself and it was marvelous cause alone time does the soul good. 

Thursday morning I took a morning stroll to the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial for some quiet moments of reflection.  With the current state of affairs in the US, it makes one wonder if we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?!?!
Then instead of going to the beach I once again drank on the rooftop of the hotel cause 2 days later I still wasn’t sh*t!  Thursday I relocated to downtown Miami cause the dollars made sense. As many times as I’ve been to Miami I’ve never utilized the Metromover a 4.4-mile electrically-powered, FREE, fully automated people mover system.  I always saw the cool little trolleys floating through the sky and instead of checking it out, I would walk blocks upon blocks when I coulda been riding for FREE!!!  I got slightly lost on the Metromover cause of course I was drinking and not paying attention to which trains went were, still had fun tho!  Thursday nite my home Tiffany flew down and we headed straight to Wynwood upon her arrival.  Hooray to having a partna in crime for the rest of the weekend. 


On Friday I finally hit Miami beach, but instead of going to the populated areas where the hot mess goes town, we set up further south near the South Pointe board walk.  Brought all the supplies needed for an afternoon of drunken fun (Booze and Bose). Didn’t make it out Friday night cause we are getting old and our bodyz needs sleep.  Instead just drank on the patio and  relaxed!
Saturday was an almost identical replica of Friday except we actually did make it out that night (to a quaint spot in Wynwood of course).
In true Sunday Fun Day fashion we drank all afternoon and evening, at Bayside Marketplace which is a great place for people watching and also in Wynwood at this swanky spot called Rácket that had bottomless mimosas... by now you should already know that bottomless mimosas is my weakness.  I would definitely recommend going here for drinks, but be sure to eat in advance cause they only have snacks on their menu and you need a hearty meal when consuming such mass quantities of alcohol. 
By the end of the weekend we had a marvelous glow after endless kisses from the sun.  My last minute birthday getaway was fantabulous. I'm was so glad I didn't splurge on an pricey location, I needz my coins for rum.  Kudos for my homie Tiffany for joining me on the 2nd half, we had so much fun doing a whole lotta nothing, just drinking and being merry!  


Monday, June 4th was my birthday and I had to spend that back in ATL with my squad.