We were up early, packed and went down to breakfast where the only warm offering was the coffee. That includes the eggs, bacon, sausages etc.
Once checked out of the hotel we stepped into the bitterly cold wind to catch the shuttle to the airport. Walking to the station, waiting for and travelling on the shuttle and walking into the airport, took all of 20mins and cost nothing. So different from our arrival.
We now had some experience of personal check-in machines but were surprised that, using only 1 passport, Boarding Passes and luggage labels were printed for each of us. Then it was time to check in our baggage – not so straight forward. Due to my back ops the doctor had said to travel assisted, ie. use a wheelchair instead of standing in queues. After quite a long walk we came to the Check-in counters and told the first Air France employee we saw that we needed the wheelchair. She said to join the luggage check-in queue and they would sort it out. We waited about 5mins to reach the front of the queue and were told. “We don’t arrange wheelchairs here. You must go back to the Assisted Counter”, half the distance we had already walked.
At the Assisted Counter there was another queue. I was given a chair while Trevor waited with the luggage. All was going well until a woman came in with her bags, barged to the front of the queue and demanded, loudly, to be checked in immediately. She would not take no, wait your turn, for an answer. After weighing her check-in luggage she was told that she had too much carry-on. To reduce the 3 bags to 2 she insisted in putting a bulging bag into another full one, leading to more stomping and shoving. Eventually, a couple of men somehow were successful in achieving this and then, for some reason, she was taken off to her flight in a wheelchair! The lady who had checked her in then disappeared so there was only 1 left on duty. (An aside: once I have completed the blogs on this trip I shall write one on airport assistance)
We were finally taken to our plane, right to the door, and once again tookour seats in Premium Economy which was well worth the extra expense. We arrived in Panama City on time, 19:20, and moved reasonably quickly through Immigration and Customs. Lyn had asked us to bring some SA food specials as well as a battery for her laptop. We had no problems with Customs in either Paris or Panama City. The assistance at this airport was excellent and we met Lyn and Tyrone in the Arrivals Hall.
Their home is in San Carlos, a 1½-2hr drive north from Panama City so we had plenty of time to do some catching up. They live on the 9th floor of a Tower within a golf estate which has its own marina as well so their Catamaran is moored there. In Panama, living in blocks of apartments is called Olas PH where the PH means Parallel Housing. Once everything was upstairs we took a few minutes to give Lyn & Tyrone their belated Christmas and birthday presents, showered and went to bed.
Entrance to the estate from the highway
The main gate
Their condo is on the 9th floor of the tower on the left
Front entrance to their Tower Block (we didn’t use this much as parking is underground)
I was up early the next morning and sat on the balcony overlooking the golf course and the sea and witnessed my first Panamanian sunrise. It may surprise you that they see the sunrise when living on Pacific side of the country but Panama is an unusual shape country which I will describe in the next blog.
My first Panamaian sunrise