Friday, March 26, 2010

Casco Viejo in one day
or Casco Antiguo

Cahreee..... He looked up to see the bird on the balcony across the way. "Good morning bird," he said aloud. Prancing back and forth without a hint of fear the bird eyed him with curiosity. Rel said, "we're only going to be here for a day. What's the best way to see the most that the area has to offer?"

Cahree.... Caaare.... "The owner of the place you're staying knows his way around here very well."

And right he was. JB took the 4 amigos on a tour of the old town that would put any tour guide in the book to shame. From sun up to well after sunset he showed them the best Casco Viejo had to offer as well as some of the seedier spots just for comparison.

I took a peak over rel's shoulder to get a glimpse of his journal while he was jotting down his thoughts and this is what I saw:

Do they set their clocks ahead in Panama? It would seem not if CNN is to be believed.

Beautiful sunrise over the Pacific again this morning. (I still can't get over that.)

There is a fishing junk in the bay this morning.
0635: the Kuna arrived and are setting up their wares. Today, in the parking lot rather than the sidewalk. Must be a bazaar of sorts today.

JB took us on a tour of Old town yesterday. We started around 9 Am. He makes a remarkably knowledgeable tour guide. The day was hot and we were in a constant state of sweat. Except when we stepped inside establishments offering cold drinks with which to refresh ourselves.The dichotomy between the recently restored buildings side by side with shelled out buildings is shocking. The "book" (Leigh's Frommer's) says there is a 40% poverty rate here and a walk around makes that very apparent. JB says these dilapidated buildings are being bought up by investors and are being restored according to local building codes to their former grandeur.

The golden altar is located in San Jose Church, Casco Antiguo (Casco Viejo).

Even though we spent to major portion of the day walking around and visiting all the intriguing spots of Casco Viejo, any one of the sites is within only a few minutes of JBs apartment.

We lunched at an air-conditioned restaurant, Casablanca, on a variety of tasty sandwiches and a pitcher of delicious sangria.

I mentioned to JB the seeming lack of bugs, insects, and such. His reply was that they have a pesky little mosquito in the area but other than that, no bugs to speak of. I'm thinking now that I didn't see any flies, even though we walked through some pretty run down areas.

During the course of our walking tour, the various libations together with the heat produced a lethargy requiring a nap in an air-conditioned bedroom so as to render myself at least able to fully participate in the evenings planned dinner and bar hopping to follow.

JB had made dinner reservations for the 5 of us at Mostaza restaurant for 1930. While the food was scrumptious from the appetizers to dessert and espresso, the entertainment was captivating. A trio consisting of a female keyboard maestro, a male bongo thumper, and a baritone with a truly beautiful tone singing favorites in both Spanish and impeccable English entertained us through our entire time there.

Leaving Mostaza, we amble to a nearby tapas bar where yours truly switched to soda-- oops-- before the tapas bar we went to Las Bovedas, located on Plaza Francia and it's jazz bar. They had no live entertainment so we settled for sampling the local rum, "Abuelo." JB talked about us investing in creating a cocoa bean plantation on some land he owns on the pacific shore.

At the tapas bar, El Callejon del Gato Restaurant, Leigh was in his glory finding a bartender ( Anuschka Hamann), a Panamanian girl raised in Germany, who was expert at fixing a mojito from scratch.

From there we moseyed over to a bar just around the corner where they did have live entertainment. There was a female torch singer in a white trench coat belting out one fantastic song after another. We lingered there until their first break and then made our way home, to there-in collapse in glorious fatigue with all our senses sated.

For a greater visual of our adventure click (that's bloggerize for mosey) here to visit Koffeebean.



Blogger Lee said...

Great post, Rel. Interesting pictures of a fascinating area. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your holiday memories.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Puss-in-Boots said...

I love the picture of the altar...magnificent!!

You've made a pretty good tour guide, too, with your words and descriptions.

Just as well for airconditioning, eh?

12:00 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Mmmm. I love mojitos. I also love your travel posts.

5:15 PM  
Blogger joanna said...

I was walking along with you love local tours -- it makes the place vibrant with life you are right you can not get that sort of stuff from a tour book

Would love to see the seedy buildings the buildings you showed us were opulent and attractive.

So are you buying in ?


11:26 PM  

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