"I was planning to walk around the old town, the Casco Viejo,, and I was told by other tourists that I would see it all in one hour - not the way I spend my time these days!
After arriving in the old town by taxi, I walked around for a little while to get my bearings, then proceeded to have my morning hot chocolate in a coffee shop that looked inviting and was situated in a small street away from the busy tourist part of town. I had already made a mental note of an interesting, restored old building with a restaurant which would suit me for lunch later on. In the coffee shop, the manageress joined me at the table and chatted away about the local activities and the restoration work.
After getting this commentary on the new local developments first hand, it was time to take out my map and walk around the main streets. Many of the buildings were skeletons of their former past, with windows missing and crumbling walls. I was surprised, as so much fuss had been made of the current restoration, especially when I was able to compare it to Quito's Centro Historico.
Finally, I found myself at the small newly restored National Theatre. I was told at reception that it was closed to the public. Luckily, I had remembered to bring my business card which the Teatro Bolivar in Quito had printed for me even though I was only a volunteer. That made all the difference. Suddenly the doors opened to give me a personal viewing of the entire premises.
I asked if I could sit down in the VIP area for a few minutes to get the feel of the place, and, as I did so, I noticed the arrival of three females musicians on the stage below. It turned out that they were practising their repertoire for the concert to be held in the theatre that evening. What a piece of luck! I enjoyed the rehearsal performance very much, and I also had plenty of time to study the elaborate restoration work in the moderately sized building.
When I finished my final viewing of the theatre, I thanked the staff for their hospitality and made my way back to the restaurant I had seen earlier for a late lunch. As it was not crowded, I found myself at a table overlooking the glassy surface of the sea, which varied between turquoise and cobalt blue. I was looking forward to tasting Panamanian specialties, but found that the food was similar to what I had in South America. I noticed that the restaurant had been restored to its former glory with its original features retained. It seemed that the two buildings which I had visited that day were the only ones in such good shape.
I felt satisfied with the way I had engaged with people and spent my time that day. it was much more interesting than an hour's walk around the streets, taking photos and buying souvenirs. After so many years, I can still feel the ambiance of the old town and recollect the pleasure of connecting with the local people."
Watch the trailer of my book at
If you would like to buy my book click on