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  • Najah Amatullah

Fatherland Panama - Day One

Wednesday


I loved seeing all of the different terrains while we were landing. That’s the part I have been the most excited about - there is jungle, beaches, city, mountains, everything.


It was very exciting for my (half) brother to tell me that he would meet at the airport. I didn’t give him advance notice (I was afraid of the language barrier and I had a little of an independent perspective about this trip at first. I don’t know why. I guess because I don’t like having my hopes too high? I don’t know.


So before the flight he and I were preparing. He called me “hermanita'' and when he and his wife and uncle greeted me at the airport, they called me that too. It feels nice, considering I don’t have any other siblings. In the car, they asked me about my mom (deceased) and other siblings (none) and were surprised, maybe even saddened, to hear it was just me. He said, “So it’s only us? Wow.” (Our father died two year ago, and his mother is still living. She wants to meet me too.) He says I look just like our sister. I cannot wait to see her.


Logistics:


There was a maintenance issue with the flight out of OKC. I would have probably still made it but then Houston (my connecting airport) was not accepting inbound flights due to weather. It makes no sense to me, but despite not accepting inbound flights, the outbound flight to Panama was on time and even arrived early. They rebooked my flight for free but I had to pay for my own hotel that night. At least it was nice and I slept well.


The next morning's flight from Houston to Panama City was fine. No issues or complaints. My hotel is not being accommodating to the weather delay despite me trying to let them know as soon as things started going south. But it is nice and comfortable.


What I’ve Seen:


The mountains - Cerro Azul and two others


Albrook Mall - not much different than any of the gallerias, much bigger than any mall in OKC. The shoe stores are the same as Footlocker and Nike. There are fancy clothing stores and cheap ones. The most interesting thing was El Costo where they had a little bit of everything - clothes, kids toys, decorations, furniture, appliances. I guess it was like a department store, but the prices are lower and there’s a much wider range.


In the mall, we ate at a restaurant in the food court. We had sopa (literally soup), rice, plantain, I had pork and vegetables, my brother had fish. We drank passion fruit juice. It was really interesting that the mall had so many U.S. restaurants - KFC, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Cinnabon, Krispy Kreme.


A small market, nothing especially exciting or dramatic, bought some fruit and bottled water.


A state university in the middle of the city.


Pandemic-Related:


The pool and gym at the hotel are on limited services and you have to call before you use them. They closed at 6pm tonight, but other nights it will be 8pm. There is a nation-wide curfew of 10pm (certain small provinces are midnight). Masks are worn outside as well as in.


I didn’t have any plane issues due to covid precautions. With those three tests, I should have been good! Lol. For real though, if I hadn’t taken the third one, I would’ve had to buy a new one due to the flight delay.


Forecast:


Meet family!

Casco Viejo!

Beach!

Canal!

I think tomorrow it’s shopping with my SIL and her friend. I’m nervous because she speaks her Spanish very fast.



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