Last few hours in Panama City

(I suggest you read my previous post so this makes more sense). I said goodbye to my Jamaican girls this morning. This is us in the hostel:

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I had to check out of my room at 12 and it was about 10 by the time I’d said bye to the girls and I still hadn’t eaten anything (this is a big deal for me – normally I wake up and eat straight away). I also still needed to buy a sim card before 12 o’clock. The receptionist told me I should go to “el chino” (literal translation “the chinese man”) and I could walk with her cos she was going in that direction to photocopy some stuff. By “el chino” it turns out she meant a corner shop / small supermarket run by a Chinese man. He sold me a sim card on the +movil network, and a $5 top-up voucher (and some plantain chips and cheesy crackers for breakfast).

When I put the sim into the £20 phone I’d bought in England (where the man in the shop told me it would definitely work in Panama), there was no signal, so Jason (the chef in the hostel who kept coming to talk to me) told me the only solution is to go to “un chino” (a Chinese man) in a phone shop and see what they say. It was still raining and humid (not very nice) and cars were splashing me etc, and I went to like 5 different chinos who all told me the same thing – that I needed to buy a +movil phone because that’s the only thing that will work with a +movil sim card. The cheapest one I could find in all these shops was $18, but (sigh…) I only had $12 with me so I had to trek back to the hostel (passing annoying Panamanian men shouting compliments at me and making similar noises as Jamaican men when they want you to talk to them, which didn’t exactly help matters).

By the time I got back it was time to pack my stuff and check out, and I really didn’t want to face the rain etc again, but I needed a phone and I’d already been told they’re way more expensive on the island so I wanted to get one before I left the mainland. I checked out and waited on the balcony talking to the chef until the rain stopped and I could face going back to the shop/chino (as you can probably tell, I find this whole “chino” thing quite funny).

Anyway I got the phone (not a Nokia or something… some weird Chinese brand) and the woman put the sim card in and made sure it worked etc so that’s all fine. Back in the hostel the receptionist called a taxi for me to go to the domestic and it arrived in about 5 minutes. I sat in the front cos I figured it would make conversation more likely, but he didn’t seem down for that so I just looked out of the window instead! The journey took about 15 minutes but only cost $5 so I think I might have been hustled yesterday.

Oh yeah also, in England when I want to cross a road, I tend to assume that if I start crossing, even if there are no traffic lights and a car is coming, the car will slow down because it won’t want to kill me. I’ve been right every time so far. In Panama City it does NOT work like this!!! I ended up having to jump onto the pavement to survive a couple of times, so if you ever go there, find traffic lights before you cross the road.

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