In the city of David…

…a child is born.  Somewhere there I’m sure this is true as David is the second largest city in Panama.  We took a trip South to visit David and spent three nights there.  Dale and Kimberly from the local YWAM base were kind (and brave) enough to make the trek with the 5 of us!  Our journey began with a 25 minute boat ride to the mainland town of Almirante where we then caught a bus to travel across the country, nearly to the Pacific coast.  It sounds like a long trip when I say, “travel across the country” doesn’t it?  This country happens to be a lot smaller than the one we hail from, so it’s not as impressive, but the journey there still felt long and I will elaborate, as usual. :)

Let’s talk a little about the bus ride.  Whenever we asked about the length of the bus ride to David, the answer was “a 3 hour bus ride” “a 4 hour bus ride”  “a three or 4 hour bus ride” and I thought to myself, well, which one is it?  An hour is a pretty big discrepancy.  That is until we made the trip ourselves.  I can’t honestly tell you how long that bus ride was.  What I do know is that we left our house at 8:30 in the morning, boarded a bus as soon as we arrived at the bus station in Almirante (they have buses that come and go at least every 30 min, possibly even every 15), and made it to our hotel in David somewhere around 2 p.m.

We boarded a bus (all 7 of us) and I thought, is there really enough room for us on this one?  They told us to go to the back of the bus where there was a bench for 4.  Bobby, Kim, Ellie, Bella, Ethan and I sat down.  Dale took an open seat right in front of us, near another nice neighbor of ours, Jan.  What happened next was by far the funniest part of the bus ride, mostly because the rest of the bus ride wasn’t really funny or a ton of fun, but I’ll get to that part later.  A Panamanian man starts making his way down the “aisle” of the bus, looking at us in the back row.  Inside my head I was thinking, what is this man doing?  There are clearly no more empty seats and he was maintaining a steady gaze toward us in the back row….he was eyeing us like he knew us or wanted something from us.  As he got close he made a gesture to sit down in our row.  I think I might have laughed out loud at this point because with 3 adults and 3 kids occupying the “4 seater bench seat, it was plain as the nose on any of our faces that there was zero room for him.  But honestly folks, this man looked prepared to sit on a lap if he had to.  We told him, “there’s no room” looking around, stating the obvious.  He shrugged his shoulders and gesturing toward the front of the bus said, “Well, he told me to sit here.”  For experiment’s sake, we should’ve shrugged our shoulders too and let him sit on a lap because that’s the only way he would’ve fit and it would’ve made a better story, but instead we talked to the man up front and told him, there wasn’t any room.  He said, yes, but there are children!  Oh, you mean we don’t actually have to pay for our kids to ride the bus?  I guess if we wanted them on our laps for the super windy-make-your-stomach-sick trip, we could’ve saved ourselves some money.  But we splurged and quickly agreed to pay for our 4 seats ($8.50 per seat) and Obedient Panamanian Man turned around and went back up front.  Kim, Bobby and I had a good chuckle and the adventure began.

Center aisle of the bus

I should just spare the details of our winding journey up a mountain and down again.  In summary we drove, felt somewhat ill, made little quick bus stops along the way to drop off and pick up more people (who had to stand for the ride), I snapped photos out of the bus window and tried to focus on the pretty landscape, and before we knew it, we were relieved when they made the 20 min. “halfway pitstop” where we bought food, drinks, and used the restroom, loaded back on the bus and continued the windy ride where we finished eating our fried rice and chicken chow mein.  To be sure, this isn’t a half way point, I’d guess more like a third-of-the-way point, but it was nice to think we were halfway there. :)

Bobby snapped pics at all kinds of strange angles

Pit stop

Bobby ordering food

Here are some sights of countryside!

It would appear at one time there was a public phone available at one of the quick stops between Almirante and David...?

Bella began complaining of a stomach ache, Ethan threw up on Bobby, I laughed while I took the wipes out and helped clean them up (it sounds bad when I write it but seriously it was all I could do because I was ready to throw up on myself too), Ellie began to complain of a tummy ache, Kim helped entertain the girls with fun games on her iPad, Bobby started looking more pale and told me if the ride didn’t end soon he was going to vomit.  We had all kinds of plastic bags ready and waiting, but thankfully the delightful ride ended and we all felt better when we exited the bus, luggage in hand and took a taxi to our hotel.  The only thought that marred full enjoyment of the relief I felt when my feet were off of the bus was, “we have to board a bus again in a few days and repeat this part of the adventure.” :)

Our hotel was so wonderful!!  Pretty, clean rooms, friendly staff, refreshing pool, great company (Dale and Kimberly are troopers!), wonderful breakfast buffet, TV’s, and all the hot water and electricity we could want. :)

 

I know that I said I would try to avoid talking about food and shopping in every blog post, and that is still a goal for me, but it won’t be today.  Thanks Toni and everyone who has kindly encouraged food photos and posts!  I’m thrilled that we were able to make this trek to see David and a lot of what it has to offer!  We shopped and took photos at several stores, pharmacies, and super markets and now have a much better idea of what can be purchased here in Panama because in our area the selection is very limited.  Locally things tend to be quite a bit more costly as well because most things need to be flown or boated in.  Bocas is the most expensive city in all of Panama and prices are definitely more expensive than back in the States (crazy isn’t it?).   Some of the local expats shop exclusively in David because of the prices and better selection.

One of the highlights for me was finally getting to visit Pricesmart, the infamous store that’s “just like Costco.”

Welcome to "Costco" AKA, "Pricesmart"!

Ok, enough pics of food.  You all know how I LOVE Costco, so I was a little camera happy, but I think you get the picture (no pun intended).  Oh wait, they say it’s like Costco, but arguably it might be BETTER than our Costco at home.  Show me a Costco where you can purchase foods like these:

Liver, tripe, tongue….

Overall I was surprised by a lot of what is available in David, including things like Clinique makeup (not that I ever use it anymore), Ricola cough drops (my favorite), Cuisinart and Breville brand appliances, Trudeau brand kitchen supplies, and Melissa & Doug brand toys and art supplies.

My first glimpse of Burt's Bees products! They make some of my favorite tinted lip balm. I'll take the litle girl in the photo too. I like her.

Here’s an even larger selection of Burt’s Bees! Didn’t find their bug spray I was looking for though…

A pic for all of my Quaker friends back home...I miss you!

Note they have Dove chocolates! At $5.29 a bag.

Wall of spices

Aside from shopping, swimming in the pool, relaxing in the air conditioned hotel room and eating out with Dale and Kimberly, we got to meet some new friends, Kendall and Virginia and their three kiddos David, Hannah and Joshua.  What a neat family…wish I would’ve gotten a photo.  They are pastors there in David and lived in the Bocas area near us for 3 years before that.  Kendall is from New Mexico and she is Panamanian, a combination that produced some darling kids!  We are looking forward to getting to know this family better.

When it came time to leave we decided to look for a taxi that would comfortably carry all 7 of us with all of our purchases (including 45 chicks Kimberly and Dale brought back for someone here).  The front desk at the hotel tried to locate transportation for us but could only find the small taxi’s we’d been using to go about the city.  Kimberly, a well-seasoned Panamanian resident was able to locate a kind taxi driver who said he could get a mini-van to take us, with all of our belongings, back to the boat in Almirante.  The trip was just as long but much more enjoyable as we were able to pull over when needed for tummy troubles.  Dale and Kimberly know a lot of people around here, including a couple who own a bed and breakfast in Bocas that are relatives of a good friend of ours in Virginia.  We got to meet them at the bus pit stop on the way back where we stopped for lunch.  We hear great things about their place if anyone is interested in a good bed and breakfast around here.

Out of the van for a breath of fresh air!

At the "half-way" point pit stop

At the top of our “shopping list” items for the trip were: A high chair and Toys for Ethan.  To my recollection, we literally packed one ball for Ethan from home.  It was one of those things I figured would just be easy to find and wasn’t worth it’s weight in luggage fees.  Over the last couple of weeks I have repeatedly told Bobby, “we really need to get him some toys to play with” as his favorite “play time” activities around here have consisted of sticking his hands in the toilet bowl (keep in mind, we conserve water by not always flushing) and playing with the garbage can, repeatedly emptying the dirty, stinky contents and replacing them with anything from pens, books and unused diapers to my sunglasses and camera.  After we got home and opened up the new toys, Ethan literally squealed and danced around the room!  Then he calmed down enough to sit and play.  He even loves his new high chair. :)

Here is a photo of Kimberly and Dale, our traveling companions….we enjoy their company very much and they have a wealth of wisdom to pass on spiritually and concerning this area of Panama!  Aren’t they good looking??  They’re as kind as they are attractive.  Ellie says, even MORE sweet and kind than they look. ;)  They traveled in little Toyota and Hyundai 4 door vehicles all over David with us, yes, including the driver, that’s 8 people (5 adults and 3 kids).  Ahhh…Panama.  Some things really are better here. ;)

“Come visit us!!” says Ellie. (Can you tell who’s reading over my shoulder as I write this?) :)  We’re on the West side of Panama, on the Caribbean Sea.  I’m with Ellie, come see us!

 

7 Comments

  1. Isaac
    May 8, 2012

    So happy to hear from you. I love reading yours and Bobbys posts.

  2. liz Bolt
    May 8, 2012

    Shirlene
    I can’t wait to meet you. You have already figured out if you don’t have a sense of humor in Panama you’re not going to make it. You are going to do fine!
    Liz

  3. Paula
    May 8, 2012

    AHHHH! COSTCO!!!!! My prayers for you have been answered!!!! I have to say I think I saw a “Kirkland” brand on one of the packages, so I would have to say even though it’s Pricesmart, you got yourselves a Costco :) I love reading about your adventures (especially the food and shopping!!!) I am thankful that the Lord has brought friends into your lives that you can share life with, especially a trip to Costco! I was just there today with the kiddos. We love and miss you all so very much!

  4. Diane Hanson
    May 8, 2012

    It was soooo nice to read about your recent adventure to “David”. So funny to say Divid for a city. Truly, I always am excited when I see another message from you guys either from Bobbie or you Shirlene. I was just right there with you as you reported on each stage of the trip. Wow, that hotel room and breakfast looked sooooo “modern” and inviting. Fun. I would have been one of the first ones losing the insides of my stomach. I get sick so easy in the car. Anyway Shirlene and Bobby, thanks for giving us all updates from time to time. It’s great.

  5. jan davis
    May 8, 2012

    Your descriptive narrative of your recent adventure made me feel like I was riding right along with you… you guys are amazing with your willingness to try so many new things! I could just feel your excitement when you got to enjoy such a nice motel and the “Costco” visit must have been so enjoyable for all of you. I’m so glad the Lord has brought so many new people into your lives and I know His blessings have just begun for all of you! Love and miss you LOTS…

  6. Verity
    May 9, 2012

    I love every word! Thank you for so faithfully keeping us posted, it’s wonderful.
    Ellie and Bella are looking so happy, and Ethan is simply rocking his farmers tan;).
    Praying for you all, and your new friends too! God is awesome!

  7. Slim
    May 9, 2012

    Love the pics. :)

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