06 November 2023 Panama City
In search of a ‘Secret’ Metro Station
“Yet, from a Buddhist perspective, there is a type of joy to be found even in the most unpredictable and difficult aspects of parenthood. It exists in the loosening of our expectations of ourselves and our children, and the willingness to move towards the way things actually are rather than how we believe they ought to be.”Try parenting the Buddhist way – Nadine Levy – The Guardian
Nowadays, if you were to father a child and then leave the mother and baby to fend for themselves, you would soon have the Child Protection Agency chasing you. I am not sure that “I am on a Noble Quest” is an acceptable reason for not paying child support. It may have been different 2,600-years ago in what is now northern India/Nepal but I still see the young new father, Siddhartha Gautama, as a very troubled young man.
Up at 5 am not because the alarm sounded but because I was awake.
Breakfast at 6:40 am and a short, easy, less than 10-minute walk to Cartagena Airport at 7:15 am.
Copa Airlines let me check-in my cabin bag which was overweight by 1 kg and contained liquids and a bug-spray aerosol, for free. The airline has 2 flights from Cartagena (CTG) to Panama City (PTY) at this time of the morning… one at 9:31 am and one at 9:47 am. At least one person got on the wrong flight! I was on the later flight, and allocated a middle seat but as no one took the window seat I did. The short flight was pleasant and uneventful.
Security and immigration at Panama City airport was quick and straightforward.
But what wasn’t straightforward was finding the Airport Metro station. I had read that a new metro link had opened in March this year and it was now possible to get from the airport to the city centre and as far as Albrook (towards the Panama Canal and Panama Albrook Airport (PAC) ) on the Metro. I walked from one end of Terminal 2 Arrivals to the other without seeing any signage for the Metro. I took the airport shuttle bus to Terminal 1 and again no sign of a brand new Metro link.
I knocked on the door of the Airport Police Station, smiled, and with my best attempt at “Lo siento, yo no hablo Espanol… can you tell me where the Airport Station is?” I was directed to get the shuttle bus back to Terminal 2. This time I asked the shuttle bus driver ‘estación de tren del aeropuerto’ and he nodded! The shuttle bus set off but half way to Terminal 2 the bus stopped in front of a concrete shaft containing an elevator signed ‘Estación Aeropuerto’.
And that was it. There must be an easier way to get from Arrivals to the Airport Station but I couldn’t find it. Anyway, in theory you can use Visa Debit/Credit cards to take the train. I tried doing this but the gate display just showed an error and refused to open. Very kindly, the station security guard helped me buy a travel pass for US$2 and add US$2 travel credit.
A couple of minutes later, the Metro link train arrived which took me to ‘Corredor Sur’ station where I changed for Metro Line 2. I took a train south to ‘San Miguelito’ station and changed onto Metro Line 1. From here I went south again to ‘5 De Mayo’ station. A short walk from here was the Hotel Casa Miller where I will be spending the next two nights. The whole journey cost 85¢ plus the $2 for the travel card. A taxi would cost in excess of $25.
Once settled in my room, which includes a small kitchenette, I went to leave the hotel to stroll around the neighbourhood before it got dark. But when I got to reception the hotel was ‘closed’ and I was advised not to go outside. The ground floor windows had been boarded up, albeit in a temporary fashion. Apparently there are ongoing, sometimes violent, demonstrations happening all over Panama because the government has issued licences for open cast copper mining. Ordinary Panamanians are not happy about this and government officials are suspected of corruption. The hotel receptionist suggests leaving my walk for an hour or two until the current protest passes. From the hotel roof garden, I can see protestors gathering at the highway intersection and Riot Police standing in a side street.
I spent some time on my phone and laptop looking at options for the next leg of this trip until it got dark. The hotel was now open again but it was too late for me to start wandering the streets. I went to a nearby minimart and bought a packet of Instant Noodles and a tin of Tuna, and a couple of packets of cookies. I still had a couple of packets of Salted Crackers and bottle of Tabasco Sauce from my trip down the Amazon, so I had all the ingredients necessary for ‘minimalist’ supper. All in all, it was quite adequate, under the circumstances.
- Copa Airlines: Manaus (Brazil) to Cartagena (Colombia) / Cartagena to Panama City (Panama) / Panama to San Jose (Costa Rica) € 405 combined fare.
- Metro card and fare € 4
- Hotel Casa Miller booked through Booking.com € 42 per night with no breakfast.
- Noodles, Tuna, and snacks etc € 5