Last Saturday (July 27th) we left on our journey back to the USA. One difficult thing about living in David is that it’s hard to get in and out of Panama. There has been talk of direct flights to the US from David for a long time, but I don’t think anything is happening in the immediate future.
So, our first day of the journey was the bus trip to Panama City. There are flights on Air Panama but they are expensive ($114.82 one way) so we’d rather take the bus ($15.25) and stay overnight ($60 including van to the airport).
We took a taxi to the bus terminal ($3). As soon as we arrived there was a man with a luggage cart waiting to assist us. He directed us to the window where showed our passports and requested two tickets on the next bus. The tickets had our names and passport numbers, and our assigned seats. Our helper took our luggage around where it was to be loaded on the bus, but since we had awhile to wait I gave him $.50 and took our luggage with us into the waiting room.
Before long, the guy was there to put our luggage on the bus and gave us our luggage claim tickets. Don’t lose these because you’ll need them to get your luggage on arrival. After that, it wasn’t long before people lined up to board the bus.
Lined up and ready to board the bus.
There was a boy going around the bus terminal selling these snacks wrapped in fresh banana leaves which I couldn’t resist. I believe they are Colombian, made of corn starch, milk, sugar (the raw brown sugar), and vanilla. It’s like an almost solid pudding and not too sweet. I seem to be the only one that like them, but I think they are really good.
In our seats and ready to go. Most of the buses are new, large, and very comfortable. Today though we ended up on a smaller, older bus so it wasn’t as roomy but it certainly got us there.
If you are taking the bus in Panama, take at least a sweater! They tend to run the air conditioning and it’s cool to downright cold. I was glad for my sweater and lightweight blanket.
The bus takes you through a lot of beautiful Panamanian countryside. This is one of the many fields of pineapples that we passed. I don’t have the best luck taking photos from a moving bus so please excuse the picture quality.
There were also beautiful green fields of rice.
Fields of sugar cane.
The bus stopped here to take some items across the street to this bus stop and pick up a couple other things.
There is a checkpoint a bit over an hour out of David. The officer just glanced at everyone’s identification this time. Other times I have had them inspect my passport and ask me when I entered the country (this can be confusing unless you remember that they are only interested in the last time you entered the country – are you in compliance with the visa requirements)
There is a rest stop midway in Santiago where you can get a bite to eat and stretch your legs. I saw this big bus marked Bocas del Toro and wondered if it goes there on those winding, steep mountain roads. It must because I don’t think there is any other way to drive there.
We passed this large shopping mall under construction in Santiago. We also passed a couple large, new and upscale looking hotels.
The bus proceeded through lush, green countryside with the beautiful mountains in the background.
Beautiful mountains in the distance through the late afternoon haze.
We reached the canal and Panama City at dusk. We arrived at the terminal slightly over 7 hours from the time we left David.
This post is getting long enough, so I will proceed with our story in the next post. Stay tuned!