Unplanned Layover…in Panama City!

Sunrise on the tarmac wasn’t so bad after my final tinto.

Watching the sunrise illuminate the tarmac was rather unexpected, however.

I had arrived at the airport in the dark, with plenty of time before my early 6:30am flight to Panama City. Two pasteles de guayaba and a tinto for good luck. When we finally boarded the airplane I had almost fallen asleep standing up…twice. Knowing I would be back to SFO just after lunch was awesome and bizarre all at once.

We sat for almost 2 hours waiting for the fog to lift. Pleasantly unpleasant. So much for my brief layover in Panama City… I started to realize that I would have to sprint through the airport upon arrival there.  Good thing I have experience in that department.

RIP favorite flip flop of all time.

I started talking to Andres, the fellow sitting across the aisle from me, who happened to be on my same next flight to San Francisco.  We spoke with the flight attendant and asked if we could move up to the front of the plane upon landing so that we could try to catch our flight. She countered with a maybe and then told us that we would be parking at Gate 25. Our flight to SFO was departing from Gate 24. We both exhaled, we would only have to run to the next gate!

The plane landed. We taxied. The fasten seat belt sign turned off and faster than you can read this sentence I unclipped my seat belt, grabbed my pack from the overhead, and made it 1/3 of the way down the aisle [I was in the absolute last row of the plane]. Then I hit the wall of people who don’t care that other people are about to miss their flights. You better believe I started sprinting as soon as I was through the airplane door.

“Con permiso! Perdon! Cuidado!”

Cue that song: Move B*&^% Get Out The Way.

Needless to say, Gate 24 was so totally NOT next to Gate 25. I ran to a completely different terminal, ticket it hand, out of breath and to a group of Copa Airlines ladies standing at the gate.

“Adonde vas?”

“San Francisco!” -me

They exchange glances, exhale, point across the hallway, and say:

“Talk to customer service.”

So. Close. Yet. So. Far.

“Here are your tickets for your flight to San Francisco. We have you on the next flight. It leaves tonight at 6:30pm.”

“Ok.” -me

…It was 9 in the morning.  

[Apologies to my parents, who I abruptly called at 6 in the morning their time to tell them I wouldn’t be in San Francisco until midnight. Super thanks to homegirl Lena for reinforcing the fact that sitting in the airport for 8 hours sounded absolutely terrible and like a waste of a day.]

8 hours in Panama City. Bring it on! 


I hired a taxi for the day. I walked down the line of taxis and chose the 5th driver after talking to the rest of the other guys. Obviously I wanted a decent price and obviously it took me 4 conversations to score the bargain price with the 5th driver.

Pulling out of the airport, Alonso hops onto his radio and promptly said:

“She chose me because I was the best looking. See you guys this afternoon!” -Alonso

…Alonso was 65. It was a hilarious day of quick jokes, city history, and local stories.

Casco Viejo



The Pacific entrance to the Canal is under that bridge in the distance!


Skyline surrounding Panama City…check out that whacky colorful museum [BioMuseo] featured on all of the airplane videos.




A few unexpected bird friends made the day that much better!



Great Egret [notice the neon green eye stripe!]


Magnificent Frigatebird [male?]


Magnificent Frigatebird [female]


Bienvenidos al Canal de Panama!


Toward the Caribbean..


Toward the Pacific.


Back through the cityCITY to catch my flight. Not missing this one.


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