Bird outside Mauricio and Marcela's bedroom
A bird has nested in the flower box outside Mauricio and Marcela's bedroom window. First there was one egg, now there are two.
Today is a holiday in Medellin and Mauricio has arranged for us to have lunch at Federico (his brother)’s finca (=farm sort of, but without animals/crops) which is close to the airport. I pack my suitcase and put the new shoes in my hand luggage so they won’t get squashed and also to lighten my case. We meet Federico, his children and mother at a service station near the finca. There’s the usual small store that you find in service stations in Oz, except that the security is different; you can’t go in to buy goods but have to ask for them over the counter.
Then we drive for 15 to 20 minutes, mainly on rough roads, until we get to the finca, which was only finished very recently.
It’s large, with four bedrooms, each with an ensuite and lovely open spaces. There are lovely views over the surrounding countryside. Monica, Federico’s wife arrives. There is a helper in the kitchen, so there’s little for me to do but sit around drinking wine and talking. Both Federico and Monica speak English, which is a bonus when I’m feeling lazy.
Bird, sitting on two eggs
After lunch Mauricio, Marcela, Maria Clara and Roberto take me to the airport. They have been wonderful hosts while I’ve been in Medellin and their friends and relations have also welcomed me with open arms.
The flight is Copa, but it turns out to be Aerolinea Republica or some similar name; scheduled ETD 1650.
We arrive around 3:15. Marcela has my suitcase but some airport guy grabs it and rushes to the airline check in counter. My biggest issue with Medellin is that many people seem to be in a hurry, even when there’s no hurry. I follow my suitcase and go to check in. They want to search my suitcase; a grumpy guy this time, such a contrast with when I arrived. After searching the case in a great hurry, he turns around and starts talking with two other airport guys. I can’t lift my suitcase, so just stand there and wait until one of his mates realizes that they need to lift the suitcase down so that I can finishes my check in.
Federico and Monica's finca. Livingroom and dining area.
The girl at check in is pleasant and tells me that because I have a tourist visa I can avoid paying airport tax if I get the visa stamped at another window, which I do, and then return to complete the check in.
Then I join the family and we sit down for a while. At around 4 I suggest that I go through migration and as we’re walking towards that area the girl from check in recognizes me, rushes up and says that I’m supposed to have gone through migration by three o’clock. I start to wonder if I’ve got the departure time wrong so I check with her, but I’m correct. I say goodbye to the family and go through to migration, which takes less than five minutes. They want to check my carry on bag, so I warn them that it has shoes from Medellin, which causes them great mirth. These guys were really nice. I’m in the waiting area by around 4:10. It’s full of people and no-one has boarded. There is only seating, toilets and a screen. I’m glad I haven’t been sitting there since 3 o’clock. More people arrive after me. Plane starts boarding a few minutes later, but we sit in the plane without any cooling, it’s very hot and although everyone’s on board, we leave late.
View from the finca
Having lunch at the finca
Arrive in Panama after a short flight, 1 hour 16 minutes. The queue for immigration is very long, but fortunately moves quite quickly. I get to the front after about 20 minutes. The guy tells me that because I’m from Oz I have to pay USD5 for a tourist visa. I go to the place he sends me, pay for the visa and return to finish the migration formalities. Get my suitcase from the carousel, no searches here, and go outside where someone (Katya) organized by Canal House is waiting to meet me. As expected, Panama City is warm and humid.
We arrive at Canal House after around 20 minutes.
A helper, Yasmina, is there to meet me and takes my case up the stairs (no mean feat) to my room. I have the Pedro Miguel Room, which is the smallest of the three rooms in the house. There is a jug of iced water in the room and some biscuits. The room is very nice and there is some welcoming information, telling me what to do if I need anything. I gather that there is a helper here at all times, but also you can ring the manager on her mobile at any time that she isn’t here. This is probably particularly helpful if you don’t speak Spanish. A little later I go downstairs and have some very cold wine, some nuts and talk to Yasmina for at least an hour. She doesn’t speak English and has a tendency to not pronounce the ends of words, so it’s quite a challenge.
Spa at the finca
Canal House, Calle 5a y Avenida A, Casco Antiguo, Panama City, Panama.
Pedro Miguel Room. USD135 pn plus tax 10%. Includes full breakfast, wifi in all of house, honor bar, assistance with tours etc.