The 1st trip required us to drive to Charlotte, NC, with a layover in Atlanta. Seems crazy I know, but you aren’t always gonna find flight deals out of the city that you live, so I am A-ok with booking out of a city that I can easily travel to. The good part about this trip is that on the way back it had a layover in Atlanta so we could hop off (there is a website called www.skiplagged.com that will help you find flights where you layover somewhere that you want to hop off at. Oddly sometimes these “hop off” flights are cheaper than booking directly to the city you want to go to.)
Anyway, when we were on the flights completing the customs form there was a question that asked, “Are you a Panamanian citizen?” We didn’t know how to answer that, we now travel with a US passport, don’t have any Panamanian ID, & weren’t sure if we still hold dual citizenship. The customs officer saw that I didn’t answer that question and since my US passport says I was born in Panama, without me even asking, she said, “Tu eres Panameña! (You are Panamanian)” The smile on my face was priceless and with that my day was made! So good to know that my country loves me as much as I love it!
Upon leaving the airport, our dad was outside waiting with a maxi (shuttle) to take us to Colón, a bucket of KFC (or “Kentucky” as it’s called by the locals), and plenty liquor. Although my dad did not come down to Colón with us, he did come down twice during our trip and invited us to join him for drinks at his favorite bar. You can see where I get my booze-ology from.
There was a lot of birthdays that weekend (I think 4 or 5 family members). My cousin Indi was celebrating at a club with friends and Paco and I stopped by and bought a bottle of rum, this is the first time in my life that I have ever bought a bottle in the club (I’m cheap, I like to hoard my $$$ and spend it on trips). My very first nightclub bottle cost $25 USD, oh how I love partying in 3rd World Countries, reminds me of partyin on The Ave in Trinidad. Funny thing is that everyone drinks beer over there, so Paco and I had to tackle the bottle alone and we were feeling pretty nice before we even walked in the place. Needless to say that when we left, we were tore up from the floor up.
Got to see my grandma who was in the hospital because of injuries sustained in a fall. It amazes me that when she sees me she says, “Iris??” (pronounced Edés)” with shock. *Spoiler Alert* my first name is not Angela and my last name is not Panama lmfao. Can’t just be throwing my government name around with all the silliness I post. Anyway, back to grandma… She has so many grandkids and great grandkids, can’t believe she remembers my face, especially when I don’t come home often. *side note* on my dad’s side my nickname is Girly, on my mom’s side my nickname is Iris. Oh how I adore the sound of my name and nickname said in Spanish. *side note* another moment that made my day was finding my nickname on a coke can.
|Excuse my outfit, you have to put on sleeved shirts and pants to enter the hospital|
Colón is really lacking a decent public beach, but Paco and I made our way to this tiny beach in a gated community that we stumbled upon when we went home in 2013. When I say tiny, I mean TINY. Being on this beach reminds me of a beloved childhood book called the Little Prince about a boy who lived on a tiny planet of his own. We had a tiny beach of our own. If you are ever in Colón and wanna check it out, it’s right next to the Hotel Washington. Although as much as I love my city I really wouldn’t recommend going there unless that’s where you are from, you have peeps there, are on a guided tour, or are there to partake in shopping at the Colón Free Trade Zone: the largest free zone in the Americas and the second largest in the world.
It was just a whirlwind time of seeing as many family members as possible & just chillaxing on the block where we use to live, and where a few of our cousins now reside. I’ve had people ask in the past to come to Panama with me and I say to them, “You wouldn’t like where I am going.” BUT I had the frekkin time of my life. It’s no wonder Panama is listed as one of the happiest countries on earth. They may not be rich with money, but they are rich with life. Everyone and I do mean EVERYONE has a crazy sick sound system in their place and they spend their free time with friends and family congregating in random places, enjoying cheap cervezas (beers), jammin, and enjoying life.
For the majority of my life I was the youngest, I like to still think of myself as the youngest. On our last trip, I met my little brother Aymar & he stopped by to see us this trip.
I had a blast and can’t wait to see you in 2016 Panama!!! Chow!