This has been a very smooooth travel day (Long, but smooth!) with the tiny exception of my very warranted meltdown over the Cargo issue with the kitty’s. You’ll be relieved to know that they arrived at the Panama city airport virtually unscathed although clearly not especially happy. I was very relieved when we were boarding the plane scott looked out the window and just happened to see the cats being loaded last into the cargo hold of the plane. They loaded them last so that they would be unloaded first upon arrival in Panama City. Given the fact that the flight was a red-eye, we slept the whole 6 hours. After going through immigration and customs we made our way very smoothly to baggage claim where I immediately began trying to find out where we would find our cats. I was looking all around for them and then I saw a very nice lady who looked like she was in charge, standing off to the side, by the two cages containing my precious cargo. Oh Good! She was so sweet and managed to get me to understand with no english, that she would wait there while we got the rest of our belongings. All four of our bags arrived as well, like I said, smooth travel day .
After securing our bags we made our way back over to the line for customs and we were instructed by a guy who looked in charge to come this way, around to the front of the line. They took us to the front of the line so we could get to our animals asap, so nice. The lady who had been patiently waiting off to the side with the cats turned out to be Lucy, our pet relocation guys (Jose) wife. She spoke no english but we managed understand what we had to do next. Scott grabbed the documents and the money and went , escorted by Lucy, to talk with the vet, who I never even saw. As a matter of fact, Im not sure if the vet ever even looked at the cats but, oh well. Money was exchanged and paperwork procured for the in-home quarantine required in Panama for importing animals and off we went. As soon as we exited immigration there was Jose, I recognized him from his web sight. He grabbed the two cat carriers and warmly greeted us and off we went to the front of the airport where Jose parked us on the curb with his wife Lucy while he went to get his van. One funny thing that happened as we made our way through the crowded airport, there was one point where Jose was forced to stop for a minute while a bunch of people looked at the cats with huge smiles and obviously admiring their beauty, even though they were seeing them at their absolute worst ,I’m certain the poor cats were mortified to be so exposed! After being parked on the curb to await Jose, I stood in the humid, but not too uncomfortably hot Panamanian air and just took a deep breath ! I’m here! Finally!
Now I’m sitting in the van with Jose and Scott in the front seat, the cats in their carriers in the next seat and Lucy and Brian, Jose’s 6 year old grandson sitting in the seat behind me. I just finished playing on my iPad with Brian, I entertained him a bit with the photo booth app and we laughed and laughed as we took funny pictures of ourselves and I tried to learn a few words of spanish(which my addled brain has already forgotten, ugg) while we giggled. When He finished playing with me he sat back and took out his own iPad! Ha!Ha!Ha! Silly me, I thought I was exposing him to something new when all along he was just being polite to this silly gringo lady. Too funny! The other funny thing is Scott ( you know, that quiet, guy) sitting in the front seat of this van with Jose and just Chatting away with him! Turns out Jose is quite talkative and considers himself a tour guide as well as educator to new gringos coming here to settle. I must say, his knowledge is very appreciated indeed! He also made sure we are aware of all the other services that he offers in addition to pet relocation and transportation. He gives tours of Panama City and the surrounding areas and when our family and friends come to visit us he will be there to take good care of them, (hint, hint!) But seriously, its great to have someone like him lined up.
Did I mention that this time of year is the beginning of rainy season? As we are driving down the PanAmerican Highway on our way to Boquete ( 6 hour drive ) it is pouring rain, not like California pouring rain, These raindrops ore HUGE! and I find myself wondering how Jose (of the chatty driver) can see the road, but I have confidence in his abilities, he strikes me as a very capable man. We are in good hands for sure.
Fast forward to 10:30 pm. We got to our lodging, Villa Marita and are comfortable settled. Scott is snoring away as I update you on the remainder of our travel day. The cat’s are recovering , although it may be awhile until they completly forgive us for such a humiliating experience. Copper is badly in need of a bath , he seems to have peed himself, poor guy. They were stuck in those crates for an awfully long time. But we have all their familiar things here for them, The cat box , some scratching pads which have been freshly doused with fresh catnip,their waterfall water, which they love and the familiar cat food dispenser. They have been exploring the apartment and I expect it wont be long before they are feeling much better. After we got here we had Betty, the lady at the front dest, call us a cab and take us to La Posada for a delicious Pizza and a good bottle of wine, Ahhhh! The cab driver quickly ascertained that we would be needing to find a long term living situation and drove us , not far out of our way, to see two house that he happens to rent, they are not currently available so I”m not sure what the point was, but oh well. Fernando, ( the cab driver) would really like to help us find a place to rent, we shall tread carefully with this kind offer, he is after all, a completer stranger to us. We are smarter than we look , Ha! Ha! Ha! We have already made dinner plans with our friends Al And Sela for Saturday night and are looking forward to seeing them again. I am also looking forward to connecting with other “virtual” friends who I have been communicating with via my blog and Facebook as soon as they have time.
It’s good to finally be here, although we both agree that it is a bit surreal, it just seems like it’s not real yet. Maybe after a good nights sleep and a bit of exercise tomorrow we will feel a little more like ourselves. Thanks for all your well wishes! We are grateful to be on a path of our own making and to feel so supported by everyone who cares about us. Cheers!