On Thursday after playing some more Just Dance with Analia, I packed my stuff and we drove to Allbrook Mall in Panama city because the bus terminal I’d need later is next to it, and I needed to buy new jeans because they ripped the day before when I fell off my skateboard, and it was just something to do.
A few years ago in London they build the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, and everyone was amazed at how big and shiny it was (including me). Apparently it’s the biggest one in Europe. Westfield has got NOTHING on Allbrook Mall. It’s the size of a small town!!! Even the car park could fit a village in it.
Not only did its size surprise me, but also the way it was so spacious and clean and shiny. Most of what I’d seen of Panama until then hadn’t been clean and shiny so it wasn’t what I was expecting. Also one thing that made me laugh was that the staff (not sure if they’re cleaners or security) went round on Segways!
We went to the food court (well one of the food courts) straight away and it had about 20 restaurants! I had to walk round for 10 minutes before deciding what to get. In the end I went to one called PittaPit where you could pick the main thing from the menu to go in your white or brown big pitta bread (so I picked hummus because they don’t have it in Bocas), and then you tell the woman what vegetables etc you want, choosing from what’s on the counter in front of you. They had loads of things to put in… spinach, sweetcorn, different cheeses and meats, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, onion, pepper etc etc. My pitta was bulging with vegetables by the time she had finished and I was very happy 😀
Next to the food court there were 3 bungee trampolines and the thing where you get inside a giant inflatable ball and walk on water in a blow-up swimming pool. Each cost $4 and I’d never done the walking on water thing before so me and Analia did that (after our food had gone down). It’s a weird experience and your ears pop when you’re standing in the ball and the man is inflating it! It was fun though. There’s also a cinema and bowling there.
They had all the well known shops there like Ralph Lauren, Gap, Claire’s etc, and the well known restaurants like McDonalds. There were a lot of shops that seemed similar to H&M, with normal clothes for quite cheap prices. I really wanted to go shopping after seeing all this but I didn’t have much money and there would be no point buying stuff to then have an overweight suitcase going back to England costing me a big extra fee, so I resisted.
The mall is so big that they have a brightly coloured train that goes from one end to another carrying families with children who can’t walk all the way. It also has big animals near each exit, and each exit is named after the animal so you know which one to go out of to find your car. A lot of people were taking pictures in this monkey, so we copied:
We wandered around some shops and I found some jeans for $17 (after trying on about a million pairs that didn’t fit). Analia insisted that I showed her every pair once I’d put it on so she could make her judgement. We also met the guy who had my ticket (thank God, I’d been worried he wouldn’t answer his phone or something and I wouldn’t make it back in time for the reggae party in Bocas today).
They dropped me off at the terminal and I gave them a thank you note I’d written on a postcard from England (I have about 8 of them in my room for occasions like this).
The bus journey back was more boring than the one there because it was dark so there was nothing to see out of the window, but the seats reclined loads so I was quite comfy and chilling with my ipod and phone, and managed to sleep a bit. It left at around 8pm and arrived in Almirante at 5.45am. There were plenty of taxis waiting to take people to the boat-houses for $1.
When I was back at Almirante, I went to the Taxi 25 boat-house instead of the Bocas Marine Tours one (just because it was closest to where the taxi dropped me… they’re all on the same road). It was lucky I went there because most of the companies just have about 15-seater boats to cross to Bocas, and obviously there was a whole bus-load of people so it would be hard to get onto the first one. Taxi 25, however, have a monster of a boat that fits 80 people and crosses between Bocas and Almirante every day! The price was the same as BMT, $6. I had no idea about this huge boat but now I will tell everyone to use Taxi 25 to avoid having to wait for a space on a smaller boat.