Last night, Jonathan and I arranged for a taxi to come pick us up at 5:30am. We were told that we needed to get to the airport (Panama City Tocuman International) 3 hours before our flight. We thought that that sounded early, so we opted for 2 ½ hours early.
We were too early.
Check in took approximately 6 minutes, and security took even less. So, we were left with plenty of time to wander the airport.
We went to a small café (the only one we saw in the airport) for a cappuccino. We each ordered one. We thought that they were on the expensive side ($2.50 / 8 oz.), but thought that since we were in Panama home to excellent coffee, that we would go ahead and enjoy a last cup of Panamanian coffee.
Unfortunately, the coffee was not good. Not good at all. It was a waste of $5.
Then we went and boarded our plane. To Costa Rica. Yes, we had to fly from Panama to Costa Rica before flying to Ecuador.
(There is no way by land from Panama to South America. The highway doesn’t go through an area called The Darien Gap. The Darien Gap is home to a vast jungle, and many indigenous people of Panama. There are several reasons why there is no road connecting Panama with Colombia. One reason is the jungle. Apparently the jungle can overgrow the highway faster than they can build it. Another reason is drug trafficking. The Panamanians didn’t want an easy way for drugs to come into Panama from Colombia.)
Traveling through Costa Rica was no problem at all. We didn’t have to stop for customs or anything. I was expecting the same process there as what happens even just passing through the United States.
When we went to pick up our bags from baggage claim, we noticed that they had dogs. The dogs weren’t just there smelling the bags.
Oh no, they were walking over everyone’s bag as it went around the conveyor belt.
As we left, we were hoping that the representative from our Spanish School would be there to pick us up, as transportation from the airport is included in the price. But, we hadn’t confirmed it, so we weren’t sure
Luckily, Xavier was there holding a sign with our names. We gave him the address for the apartment that we found.
Javier dropped us off at Finlandia 443 30 minutes early. We waited outside for Paolo to show up. But, he was already there.
When Paolo came down, he said that he wasn’t expecting us until 5 because he thought our plane arrived at 3. So, we weren’t just 30 minutes early, we were 2 ½ hours early. That’s unheard of here!
He was willing to let us come up and see the apartment anyway. It’s great! It’s on the 8th floor, and has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a big kitchen, and a balcony overlooking a large park…all for $20 / day ($600 / month). Awesome!
Paolo was nice enough to take us to the grocery store so we could get set up. Unfortunately, we’d forgotten to bring our money with us, so he even bought us a few groceries (we paid him back the next day). He’s a really nice guy.
Our first day in Quito was really good. We’re looking forward to spending the next month here, learning Spanish and exploring Ecuador.
Anyone have any suggestions for what we should see / do in Ecuador?