Casco Antiguo, Panama City, Panama
|View from Melinda & Silvio's balcony|
Shirl and I spent yesterday getting to Melinda's apartment in Panama City. The airplane was almost an hour late from Newark, but Melinda's chosen “English-speaking taxi driver” David Torres was waiting with a sign that read “Dunca McDougall.” His new, white, Hyundai Tucson was prominently adorned with strategically placed stickers bearing the BMW logo. At first, I asked if it were an X3. He said, “No, a Tuck-son,” using the same pronunciation of “Tucson” that is used in Romania. I laughed, and told him of my white Santa Fe, and of Fritz, my “new” 1990 BMW 525i. He told me that those stickers had saved him $43,000. (I laughed. We share in our tastes for cars.)
On the twenty minute drive from the ultramodern Panama Airport to Casco Antiguo, a part of the Old City, where Melinda and Silvio have an apartment next to Plaza Simon Bolivar, we learned that David has been around the world. He has lived at times in Bulgaria and Moldova, and to get from one to the other, has also visited the Romanian Southeast. David worked two years in the U.S. as a truck driver. He asked where we were from, and when Shirl told him she was from a small town near Boston, he asked, “Worcester, or Marlboro?” Shirl is from a town just between those two cities, and David knows Shirley's hometown of Westborough, Massachusetts, which he said reminded him of a European village. So, he has also spent time in Western Europe. As it turns out, David speaks many languages at a “get by” level. Here this morning, over coffee and orange juice, Melinda tells me that he also has spent considerable time in the Far East, though I do not remember the countries there that she mentioned.
So, a Panamanian taxi driver is not to be underestimated. But, an international traveler soon learns not to be quick to underestimate those he meets in his travels. ¿No es verdad?
Our evening ended late, as at almost 1:00 AM, Meli, jet-lagged as she was from her 10 January flight from Europe, went to bed, while Shirl and I, thirsty after our travel, went to Casablanca, the restaurant downstairs in Meli's building, and had a beer and a glass of Chardonnay. While enjoying our nightcaps, we were serenaded by Rojillo, a 70 year-old guitarist, who offered us two songs before he himself called it a night. I gave him a generous tip for his stylish renditions of “Strangers in the Night,” and “Guantanamera.”