November 8, 2007

Our first flight left promptly at 6:00 am, which meant a good start to the day. It was dark and rainy, and Caroline and her little dog Rocky dropped us off at the airport at 4:30 am. Checking in at the Delta counter went very smoothly, as did the customs line-up. Our 50-seat jet was full and the overhead compartments weren’t quite large enough for our 10-kilogram carry-on backpacks but they did fit under the seats.

We taxied down to the far end of the runway, then roared back to take off, and we were off to Salt Lake City on the first leg of our trip. Shortly after takeoff we were offered our choice of drinks and light snacks. The flight was only two hours long and went by very quickly. After a while it became light outside the plane. We had good views of the mountains in Idaho and then we could see the Great Salt Lake and a multitude of little lakes between Utah’s mountains and the desert.

Salt Lake City was clear and sunny. We arrived on time and then made our way to the gate for the second flight, to Atlanta. We had a couple of hours to kill before it departed, so we started to work on our Sudoku puzzle books. Our itinerary said we would be getting lunch on the flight to Atlanta, but we knew that didn’t mean a real lunch nowadays. So we bought two muffins, chocolate for Paul and lemon poppy seed for Rosemary, and two veggie plates with dip to carry on to the flight.

Once on the plane we settled ourselves in for the next leg of the journey. Our purchased lunch was a good supplement to the snack packet that Delta gave us. Again the flight went by quickly, and the sun was sinking towards the horizon as our plane landed in Atlanta 15 minutes early. This was good for us as our next flight left 1 hour and 20 minutes later. (This was one reason why we had only carry-on baggage for our 11-day trip.) To get to the departure gate for the Panama City flight we took the train to Terminal E, which was at the far end of the airport.

While we were sitting at the gate watching the colourful sunset, there was an announcement that there were no Panama tourist cards available, and that we would have to get them from the immigration people when we arrived in Panama. Shortly after that a line-up formed at the desk, and Rosemary went over and bought our tourist cards.

The final flight of the day left on time, and by the time we took off it was dark. At first we flew over lighted cities and towns, but later it was all dark below us. We had dinner, which was chicken and rice with spicy gravy, and after that we did nothing much until the flight arrived in Panama City, around 10 pm. We went through immigration with no problems, then headed outside to find the driver we had arranged for. He was standing just outside the exit, holding up a sign with an approximate version of our name on it. We had a bit of a wait, as there was another lady using the same shuttle service. She was staying at the Las Vegas Suites so we got a mini-tour of the downtown area before heading up to La Estancia, the B&B on Cerro Ancon that we had reserved.

It was cloudy and relatively cool, with the temperature in the mid-20’s but not raining. After about half an hour we arrived at La Estancia, our final destination for the day. Tito, the night manager, let us in and gave us a quick tour of the lounge and breakfast area. Before going to our room we asked him to show us the resident sloth. She was asleep at the top of a palm tree right next to the balcony. We settled into our room and quickly fell asleep.

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