Hunting with the Game Warden

Or a day at the mall. 

Friday we ventured to Panama City to the Albrook Mall.  Easy Peasy.  We just took a quick cab ride downtown and waited at the local bus stop.  The buses have no particular schedule and they come along often.  Sometimes two at a time.  And the conductor hops off and starts yelling at you to get in.  Feels a little like an abduction but each bus is vying for your business and they seem a little aggressive.  But the buses are air conditioned and the drivers very capable so for $2.50 each and an hour and a half ride to the city we couldn't resist.

The mall is huge.  We recognized familiar stores like Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Victoria Secret and La Senza.  Tons of stores we weren't familiar with.  More stores than I could count.  And me with no room in my luggage.  So Stan reminded me that there could be no shopping.  Thus the title of the blog.  No fun at all.  But I did manage to sneak in a pair of shorts.  And a shirt.  And a necklace.  Then the woman at the store I was buying a shirt gave me another one.  Yes, gave.  No signs indicated any promotions going on.  But while I was at the till paying she passes me this other shirt.  In my broken Spanish I said that no, I'd only be taking the one shirt.  In her broken English I think she said it was free.  Anyway she packed it in my bag and didn't chase me down when I left the store so I believe it was a gift!

Then Stan wandered into El Costo.  It's a large department store that appears to be very, very, very popular with the Panamians.  Every shopper had a cart and every cart was full.  I could see why.  The prices tags ranged from $.90 to $15 from what I could see.  Swim trunks were $3.99 so Stan bought a couple pair.  Now it was my turn to remind him we had no room in our luggage.  Hehehehe, it felt good. 

After kicking around and eating a wonderful Panamian lunch we decided to catch the bus home.  What was such a simple task to get there wasn't quite so easy now.  We went to where we got off assuming it would be the same.  Nope, but a man said to follow him so we went down a level and kept pace.  He took us to a ticket booth.  We bought two tickets to Coronado.  The ticket seller wrote "13" on our tickets.  Again, only $2.50 each.  So we assumed that 13 was the gate number....  You know what they say about assuming.  So we went back a the man who had guided us down was still there.  He pointed in the opposite direction.  We ventured off.  We went back.  Now this is the third time the man has had to help us and I'm sure he's thinking "aren't you two a special lump of stupid".  I could see it on his face.  But with exaggerated motions he directed us to the right door.  So now we are outside with all the buses, thinking we need gate 13.  But another man said "no, gate 45" so we tried there.  Then we were sent to gate 48, gate 52 and finally found succes at gate 54.  So we settle into our seats near the front of the bus and were feeling quite proud that we successfully found our way and got great seats to boot.  No one would ever no how we struggled to find our bus.  But guess who our conductor was.  Yep, the nice man who gave us the same instructions three time that we were too dumb to understand.  He chatted away to the driver and they laughed and laughed and if I was a betting woman, I'd bet they were laughing at us!

The view from our seats was soooo much better than the ride in.  Going in we could only see out the side window and at the clip we were going we only glimpsed the countryside.  On the way home we saw everything.  We saw every close call and near miss we had while driving in the Indy 500.  They are amazing drivers and the bus apparently can turn on a dime.  I was a little shaken and in need of a beer upon our return.  But it was a great day and I recommend that everyone should ride a local bus in every country you visit.  It's always an adventure.

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