Panamá: Days 1 and 2

Nobody: …
Nobody: …
Nobody: So how was Panama?
Me: Pah-nah-MÁH was glorious!

Enjoy 48 hours in 30 seconds. Yes, I will be submitting for an Oscar nomination!

Panamá was an absolutely fun time — even with all the humidity and rain. But, hey, that’s what happens when you travel so dangerously close to the rainy season in the tropics.

I always enjoy listening to what led someone into picking their travel destination of choice. While I picked Panamá because I used Google Flights to see cheap flights during the month of May, Panamá popped up, and I thought “Hmm! Why not? Let’s see the canal,” I’m hoping that you will be choosing Panamá based off of the amazing time I had there — even during the rainy season.

DAY 1

The first thing that struck me about Panamá was how tall it was. Juxtaposing the tallness of the white buildings with the lush green rainforest… I do wish I was able to capture the contrast from my grainy little window seat, but these airlines do not want me to be great!

And speaking of airlines… y’all Delta almost PLAYED MY LIFE. Our (as in, my and my sister’s) flight journey started at 3:45A. To set the scene for y’all, neither of us has had any sleep. Our flight was on a Friday, the last time I slept was Wednesday night. So from Thursday at 6A (when I woke up) to Saturday at 2A, I probably slept a total of 2 broken hours. So needless to say, I was mildly irate. Anywho, our Lyft driver came early (we tried scheduling a ride), and my sister and I were RUSHING to finish packing and head on over to the Lyft before miss ma’am cancelled our trip! And to think Coralie (my sister) almost forgot her passport… hah… ha… ah……….. Imagine. Literally, just imagine showing up at the airport without your passport for an international flight. I’d be ready to cancel and just stay my ass home.

We make it to the Lyft and it’s raining! Happy Friday the 13th!! RAIN to forebode our impending rainy trip. But let me reiterate that it was raining, because miss ma’am was ZIPPING through the empty, dark roads like Dominic Toretto was tryna catch her ass! At one point, so was horizontal in a 3 lane highway because she had to make the exit with a truck coming. Ma’am, all roads lead to Rome. Miss the first exit and the exit 4 miles down will loop you back around to the airport. It’s okkaaayyyyy. Said my prayers and closed my eyes, I did not want to see my death. We did, eventually, make it to the airport, in one piece. We make our way through check-in, show our Panamá pre-customs validation QR code, check our luggage, and make our way to our gate for the first leg of our flight. I even started my nails (while eating a Quiznos sandwich, which I later ended up regretting hardcore), while waiting for boarding.

We board and I promptly take a little 10 min nap, hoping that when I wake up we are in the sky on the way to our next step. Apparently, Delta did not have any direct flights into Panamá that week from the DC area. Our layover was 50 minutes in ATL… So we’re already racing against the clock. So tell me why I wake up, look at my watch, it says 7:30A (our flight was at 7A), and we are still on the tarmac finally lifting off! If your brain is mathing and seeing how we already lost 30 minutes… and our layover in ATL is 50 minutes… I open my Delta app and it tells me that our flight is delayed and that they’ve moved us to a different flight. IT WAS THE WAY I WAS INTERNALLY SCREAMING AND CRYING ON THE PLANE I WANTED TO PUKE!!! That Quiznos really was not sitting well. My sister was knocked out, so I had nobody to real-time cry to. So here I am texting my friends and family, asking them to contact Delta and to check flight itineraries for me. After some kerfuffle, the Delta app finally fixed itself and it showed our original itinerary. We gained some time in the air, but we still only had 30 minutes to run through the ATL airport to get to our new gate. And guess what? We got flagged when boarding, so we had to wait to get our facial recognition, error code, passport issue fixed? No, we don’t know what happened. Yes, it did get sorted.

landed and sweaty

A small sidebar about airplane windows turned into a whole rant about my adventure. Love to see it! But yeah, Panamá is very tall! We finally land and get off the plane, and I almost suffocated in the humidity. I am not even kidding. Hustled through their immigration and customs so that I can grab my suitcase and change from socks, slides, and a hoodie, to just slides and a sports bra. Was still sweating and breathing hard! But part of that was just from all the moving around. Once I finally sat still, I started feeling better. Our other two friends joined us from NY as we made our way on over to our AirBnB.

I wish I took pictures, it was such a pretty place, but the AirBnb link will have to suffice. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, can accommodate 4 people if everybody wants their own bed, or 6 people, if there was some bed sharing involved. The newly renovated condo has a little pool (that we never got to use!) that is shared with the other condo residents and some of the architecture is outdoors, such as the stairs and the pool, so definitely keep that umbrella handy from the minute you walk out the door.

We had plans to go to dinner and then salsa dancing. We only made it to salsa dancing. We had a small meal when we got to the AirBnb.

We stayed in Casco Viejo, Panamá’s old town, filled with glorious rooftops, cobblestones, historic walls, and a whole lot of restaurants. We got ready and headed out to find our instructor for salsa dancing. We booked through AirBnB experiences to go salsa dancing with Marta and her salsa safari crew. We met Martha and two of her dancers, Nelson and Miguel, who taught us the basics of salsa and took us to different bars with live music where we literally danced the night away. Ya girls were sweating. And guess what? My convertible heels BROKE!!! Imagine me trying to do a cute little salsa turns and I feel my heel twist out from under me. Which reminds me… I need to buy heel replacements for my shoes. At least just the heels broke and not my heels.

Hannah and I dropped Coralie and Karla off at the AirBnb before we went back out to another live music place, where we just got some Panamanian beer, before we decided to go back and walk around to find some food. Word of advice: do not walk around in Casco Viejo (or any city) at like 2 in the morning. A quiet city, stray animals walking around, groups of men lurking in a corner, and taxis following you around to see if you need a ride. Historic buildings being renovated look gorgeous in the daytime… not as glistening in the night when you can see the dilapidated areas.

We finally got back to the AirBnB. I hit a j, washed my face, and took a quick shower. The minute my head hit the pillow, it was lights out…

DAY 2

… until like 6A when my body decided to auto-wake itself up. Panamá is in the central timezone, so it was 7A back home. I tried so hard, I even begged myself, to go back to sleep to even get an extra hour of sleep. No, nay, never. I got up, and just watched some Netflix. When my friend Karla was up and at it, we walked around Casco Viejo to find a small little shop that sold fresh fruit, empanadas, and some carrot-beet juice. My body was REJOICING after I drank that juice. I normally like to pack my Kencko juices with me to ensure I get some fruits and veggies in the start of my mornings, but for some reason, I was utterly “unprepared” for Panamá, even though I had a whole lot of time to pack and prepare! But I was determined to make the most of my own predicament (which in hindsight, was more prepared than I believed, but still fell short of my own self-imposed standards).

When we got back from the shop, we all just laid in bed, watched horror movies, and I did Karla’s nails before we started getting ready for our Day 2 adventure: a food and drink tour hosted by a local Panamanian.

Another thing that struck me about Panamá was the amount of white ex-pats living there, and the amount of white ex-pat business owners who are then hiring Panamanians as employees. So it was nice to see that this tour was hosted by a local native.

Panamá City is a place of fusion. The true Panamanian food resides in the rural area while the city will have more diverse food. Given the location, and importance, of Panamá, it makes sense. Ana, our food tour guide, took us to several of her favorite fixtures, including Fonda Que lo Hay, which does serve as close to traditional Panamanian food as you’ll find in Panamá City. The tour highlighted local restaurants, food, and drinks that make Panama, Panamá.

It was a walking tour — so please wear some comfortable shoes. Ana taught us about the history of the food scene Panamá, which is mainly due to the canal’s presence (which I will talk a bit more about in pt 2 of my Panamá adventures).

Unfortunately, didn’t get the name of the rooftop bar we went to. But the calamari (which they name “spider legs”) were crispy perfection. And they served THEE BEST gin and tonic I’ve ever had, and I’m not a gin girlie! The overcast and sporadic rain damped (pun intended) the atmosphere, but I LOVED how the skies and the buildings looked in contrast.

We went to Mandinga, an amazing rum bar. Panamá, just like my country of Haiti, uses raw sugar canes to make their rum, compared to other countries using molasses. But what I really enjoyed was the Geisha coffee liquor. Smooth and perfectly balanced. I immediately envisioned myself pouring a shot into my daily cup of coffee. I don’t even drink coffee — that’s how amazing it was. Geisha coffee is so expensive due to the unique conditions needed to grow it, and because of that, only a certain amount can be grown yearly. Coralie picked up a bottle of the coffee liquor, but no coffee beans. Neither of us drink coffee enough to splurge on the Geisha coffee, but also, neither of us would recreate the coffee in a way that brings out the natural flavors. In essence, it would be wasted.

We ended our evening with Ana at Casa Catedral, a historic (if you couldn’t tell, everything in Casco Viejo is historic) restaurant where you can dine next to old cars. I’m not a car person, but it was still amazing seeing everybody else ooh and aah over these old cars. Apparently, a very old family collects these vintage cars and displays a handful of them at Casa Catedral. It absolutely contributes to the atmosphere. I felt as what I think I would feel like if I was in Havana — a place I haven’t been yet.

Even though our culinary adventures ended with Ana, the night was just getting started for us. We went back to our AirBnB to freshen up and change before grabbing late night dinner at Casa Blanca. I think most of the food we had in Panamá has been wonderful, but not necessarily stand-out, if that makes sense. Since most of what we had was Panamanian fusion, everything was delicious. My tastebuds were dancing with every bite, but as I look back at the fusion food, nothing popped out as my favorite. Take note I mention fusion food. We did try authentic Panamanian food later on during our time, and those were notable, but that’s a part 2 post *wink.* Yes, that does mean you need to come back and continue reading!

Quick side note… the cocktails were SUPERB. Two drinks stuck out to me: the mojito and a gin and tonic (had at the rum bar, and the rooftop bar). You might be reading it like, “girl… I can make that in my bathroom.” And you’re right, but it would suck. I have never had two super strong, yet alcohol-tasteless, yet bubbly and refreshing drinks in my life. I have been going crazy trying to ask bartenders here to remake them, “No can this have more club soda? Ok but not that club soda. Y’all have sugar cane syrup? No? Just simple syrup? Ok but what types of gins do you ha–just Hendricks? Ok. *scratches head.*” I think they spat in my drink. I gotta head on over to my fav cocktail bar to see if they can scratch the itch.

Ok. Back to our adventure! After dinner, we headed out to experience the nightlife. The night before, we had asked where the pretty black girls like to hang out to an Afro-Latina bartender. She gave us a list of recommendation. We first hit Selina, a cute, overpriced and highly overrated rooftop that charges a cover. Y’all know the vibes! Gorgeous views though (not pictured, sorry). Some random guy bought us all a shot, yum (jk). But there wasn’t any dancing. We could have gone to the main level to dance, but we were ready to try somewhere else. I’m not sure why, but I was tired, irate, sleepy–oh wait, must be because I slept a total of 5 hours over 72 hours? Nah, that’s not it. We walked around Casco Antigua, a place a couple blocks away from the center of Casco Viejo that has club next to club next to club next to rooftop next to club next to rooftop-on-top-of-a-club… The world was our oyster. We walked past each venue, listening to their music to see if we’d vibe. We finally just asked someone where we can go to get some lit black music. We were directed to Rush.

Chile… I was not ready. If I had some club days (and no, Shooters II does NOT count), I just know my club days would be OVER. Miss security guard patted me down and checked my purse. And the music was THUMPING. We tried to get closer to the center, but somebody threw (accidentally, drunkingly) drinks on us as we were walking around. I was done. I stomped, mad as hell, back to the bar. I was ready to leave on my own if everybody else was feeling the moment, but I did not want to leave a girl behind if two of the other girls also wanted to come back. Like, I’d brace it for the enjoyment of my friend, but if somebody else wanted to stay, too, I’d dip. Luckily, Coralie wanted to stay with Hannah, while Karla and I went back to the AirBnB. Part of me wished I did stay, given how Hannah and Coralie were talking about chaotic the DJ was, but I think it was for the best that I went back to bed.

Again, once my head hit the pillow… Lights out! The lack of sleep I got on that trip… whew!

DAY 3

THUNDERSTORMS! We chose a great day to–oh wait. I’m saving this for the next entry! So stay tuned.

A Li’l Update ft Boqueria

Listen, the fact I’m spending lots of money on this blog domain and can’t even be consistent… Sis. I keep saying I will try, but whew is the depressive state real. And right as I thought I was getting my life together, BOOM, the Rona hits and derails my plans. Like truly. Messing up job integration, extremely ill, bedridden for days, and just all the weight gain…

ok so when I uploaded this, I remembered why I like to take horizontal pics so excuse the squareish crop pls & thnx — also we like the rounded? yeah? myb?

At least my skin is clear, right? And not even really. But I am trying a new skincare routine to get rid of the inflammation coloring from ingrown hairs. Hey, I’ll keep y’all updated about that!

All that is playing through my head is “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance, and that should really sum up how I’ve been these past couple of weeks.

I’ve also changed gears from health law to environmental law (oh! Did I tell y’all that I AM A FULLY LICENSED ATTORNEY IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND?!).

face courtesy of mom and forcing me to go to the ceremony lol

Wish me luck. The goal is to get into corporate social responsibility and environmental health equity. Now what does that all mean? Essentially, climate change is a public health crisis and the faster we get people and corporations to understand that a declining environment will lead to more health issues, especially in black and brown, low-income communities, the faster we can try to remedy the situation before it gets too bad.

Now, that also requires corporations caring for said population, and that really might be the challenge :))))).

teaser for the next paragraph but also relevant bc I used this cute lil jaunt as my work profile pic bc radiant smiles and, like, well i look cute

So how have I been spending my free time? A whole lot of DIY, cooking, sleeping, working, eating, and did I mention sleeping? Recently I’ve been reminiscing about a fun adventure I had with the one and only Bryanna Goode, the magic behind a lot of my recent photos. The way I miss adventuring… Lots of good memories, but I’ve been thinking about Boqueria (remember when I went in NY? No? That’s why I hyperlinked it for you! And here it is again!) a lot, mainly because what I wouldn’t give for a bottomless brunch in a chic setting right now. Full disclosure, DC locations > NY.

look at bryanna hard at work :)))

I thought about going back into video editing, but it really was not for me. I enjoyed capturing the footage, did not really enjoy mashing it all up together. So, if you’re reading this and you enjoy making videos, please let me know. I will appreciate you more than I already do.

And another thing I miss? The post-brunch adventures.

Surprisingly, I’m fine staying home, probably because I live with my family. But I hate not having the option to go out and adventure. What I would give to travel safely right now and eat my way through the tropics, lounge on a beach with crystal clear waters, but also drunk shopping, navigating through the metros of DC, and saying “yes” to every adventure that comes my way.

this lowkey looked a lil cuter before i cropped it into a rectangle

But, all I have for now are the memories and these yummy pics of me doing yummy things, so let’s all just close our eyes and take a second to imagine what life was like before this. Ready? Go!

Yeah, what a time. Let’s see… The food was good. I obviously went back and I want to go again! Unfortunately I took these pics in October, so my memory of the food isn’t perfect. Shout out to mega delayed posts, huh. What I do remember: the chicken tenders were delicious because they were coated in crumbled chips, but I did cut my mouth on them. The fresh toast was yummy but I enjoyed the apples more because I’m a sucker for cinnamon backed apples. The lil pineapples were GREAT, I had like 10, a lil smokey and a lil sweet. Steak and eggs were great, except I am very very weird about egg yolk, and I didn’t care for these because they were a littleeee too runny, but I ordered steak on the side just to eat more. The Bloody Mary shots were good too. They were more shot than cocktails and the spiced salt rim really sealed the deal. Take back too many and you’ll be wobbling your way down DuPont. 10/10 would go again, so hit me up if you wanna go.

Anyways. Let’s see what else I’ve been up to…

My friends and I all created a playlist of 25 songs we love so much, we wish we produced them. You can check out mine right here. I am no DJ, but I think I make pretty good playlists. Want a fun challenge? Make your own and send me the link so I can share!

And oh, look, another picture of me. Sometimes candids really DO turn out well. This was still part of the Boqueria brunch adventure, so no judging me on the same exact outfit, thank you very much. The only thing worse than an outfit repeater is an outfit rememberer! [Insert Lizzie McGuire gif here]. Duh.

And as much as this natural hair was cute as SHIT!!! I miss stunting in a wig. And makeup. I did my eyebrows the other day? And I forgot how to do them?? But then when I did perfect it??? It looked so foreign???? On my face????? 

tbh surprised makeup still looking good at like 1am after drinking #champ also shoutout to dupont krispy kreme bc #lifesaver

Like

not a wig but i do miss the high pony bc yes.

I can’t even recognize myself in makeup anymore?

hey siri, set a reminder to take pics vertically and horizontally

Honestly, I don’t even recognize myself, period! In all fairness, the picture was when I was extremely done up for a formal event, but I just wanted to be dramatic…

My plans for after this end? There’s so much I want to do! I cannot wait to leave, head to a MedSpa and get a Fraxel facial because—I deserve, and my face deserves even more. That’s it. And a new hairstyle. Either wig or silk press. I recently cut all my nails off because I’ve been doing them myself, but it’s been such a hassle. I bought a new manicure set anyways, so I will be entertaining the hassle once more. I bought a poly gel kit, so wish me luck.

And speaking of hassles… Men. Listen, it’s quarantine, sir. Leave me alone. It’s a pandemic! If I’m getting sick and infecting others, it’s because I’m hanging with my friends, not because I’m meeting new guys and fooling around with guys from the past. Yikes.

Please. Pls. 

But all in all, life has been ~good.~ I even did some passion twists. They did not last long. But I tried.

i’d like to personally thank celena for letting me have/borrow/whatever her sweatshirt

No complaints really. I’m alive, and there really was a time where I thought I wouldn’t make it because I was THAT sick. I’m gainfully employed, and was worried because last to hire, first to fire. Luckily, the company I’m working for has gotten busiER during this time. Yay, work?

Started working out again to try to get a little bit of definition, but the way my sickness ruined my lungs… Trained 2 years to get to this level of fitness (not super fit lol but I can run, read jog, a couple miles without dying) just for it to be ruined from being sick for 4 months, lol. BUT! I’m determined to get back to where I was before 2020 ends :). We got this, right? Please, wish me luck.

So as per usual, I won’t make promises about this blog. But I hope I find the time and enegy to update you more. Thank you so much for checking in on me. Y’all are the reason I want to write these posts.

Until next time!

P.S. I like these updates, so maybe I’ll focus less on food and travel (funny, I know, because would need to focus on those things to begin with) and incorporate more about general life, because you’re here to get “elod” of my life, right?

P.P.S. You get brownie points for laughing at my pun. They’re worth nothing, yet.

Our MSC Adventure: Day 1

Hello hello hello! Remember watching a cute little video the other day about Our MSC Adventure (a preview!)

Now I come to you with Day 1:

What’s better than 1 traveler? 2?

But because this is a blog and not the YouTube, I’m here to give you some details of our adventure. If you didn’t want to watch the video, just read along and look at the pretty pictures instead.

And as I was typing this all out… I realize I don’t have many pics, so really, just enjoy the video.

Arrival

The SuperShuttle came to pick us up, bright and early (not bright, but definitely early) at 5:15am. Apparently, the van came early and just parked outside our house since 4:45am and took a quick cat nap. We picked up three more groups of passengers before we made out way to Dulles International Airport (IAD).

We decided to sign up for Clear. Which, I just now remembered I should probably delete my account so that I’m not charged their yearly subscription fee. Quick, easy, and painless. We scanned our fingerprints and off we went.

Boarding and Embarkation:

We didn’t wait long in the terminal before we got on the plane. Fortunately, the flight was a little delayed. We got an early flight (money saver), and were concerned we would wait hours before we would be able to check in for our cruise. Not only was the flight delayed, the Lyft took forever to pick us up once we landed and there was mild traffic.

Luckily, we were able to check in and board upon arrival, even though we were two hours early.

The boat is smaller that what I’ve been used to, but it was Priscilla’s first time, so she did not have anything to compare it to. We had checked in our luggage, so it was brought up directly to our rooms during the safety procedure.

Safety Procedure:

Which was fine, honestly. 10 minutes on how to put on your life jacket and where to meet up if there’s an emergency, such as if the ship ran into an iceberg or capsized in a hurricane. Awesome, right?

The Lost Luggage:

But when we got back to the room… my luggage still was not there. So between rushing up and down to try to track down my luggage, I was getting mega-annoyed. Truly, called countless times, went to customer service, went to confiscated and tagged bags. No where to be seen. They finally located my luggage. They pulled it aside because there was a hot comb in it.

… Yeah. A hot comb. Y’all ain’t ever seen a hot comb before? Truly? …

Dinner:

Luckily, that fiasco was handled in time for dinner. When it comes to food, “When you keep your expectations low, you will be pleasantly surprised.” And I strongly feel that way about cruise food too. We’re only paying so much and the food is cooked in batch. The food was good, but when you’re catering to thousands of people, only so much can be done.

Bay Scallop Ceviche: It was good! I wish there was more spice and salt to it, but the small scallops were soft–as were the plantain chips (due to the fact they were soaking in the juices for a lil bit).

Pan-Seared Salmon: I mean… I’m a salmon snob because my mom and I make amazing salmon. But it was good. The rice (which Priscilla described as “right out of the Uncle Ben’s rice bag”) and green beans were bland, but the whole experience was tied together with the butter sauce. Surprisingly better than expected.

Lamb Chops: Homegirl was smart and good the lamb chops. Tender, crusted, and crisp. What more can you ask for?

Catalan Canard Creme: Pretty much a creme brulee that has not been caramelized. How sad.

Snickers Cake: The non-cake parts were the only things eaten, but hey, that part was still good.

The Show:

The saddest part was that there wasn’t any bar service in the theater. There was only theater that holds about 550 people at a time, much makes sense considering the boat only holds about 2000 people.

The theater was empty pretty early on, but got full closer to the show time. I’m so used to showing up 30-40 minutes earlier to grab a good seat in the larger ships I’ve been to.

It was 80’s and the show was pretty good. I thought one of the singers was an actual recording. The dancing was good–I wish it was more rock and roll though.

Because MSC is more of an international cruise, every announcement was said in multiple languages. The theater show was also partly in Spanish for Spanish songs from the 80’s.

The show was very sexual. One girl was really on the floor, flashing her ass and touching herself. Sir, this is a family show?

The After Party:

Grabbed a corner couch section, grabbed a drink, and just enjoyed the game show and the dancing. Not much here to add. I love larger ships because it seems as if there’s always a greater turnout, but if only ~5% of people show up to these non-theater events, on a boat of 2000, at most 100 people show up. But on a boat of 6000, you’ll get 300. Life is what you make of it, and we were determined to have fun on this ship.

Pizza:

And as my cruise traditions go… I always end each of my nights with some pizza. No complaints here. Pizza could be better, but pizza could be worse. At midnight when you’re coming down from drinking, it really takes a lot for pizza to not taste great.

Stay tuned for the future updates! Next will be Day 2, another sea day. As the posts progress, there will be less about the mundane issues, so they will get shorter and shorter. I wish I could promise more pictures, but let me not make a promise I cannot keep.

Starting Off

Writing has always been therapeutic to me. Starting from maybe 6th grade, I would write out (horrible) plots to stories I wanted to develop. Reading over them… Wow. You can really chart my phases and track my writing styles.

Later on, I would start writing editorials for different blogs.

Then, I decided to make my own blog. The first, like, 50, failed. So here’s to the 51st. This isn’t a personal blog, but rather a blog that will get me up and active. I love to cook and make green smoothies (and by smoothies, I really only mean the one basic smoothie I make, but I guess I will start to diversify). I love going out. I really hate going on dates… But! I’m hoping this blog will force me to leave my comfort circle of the two bars I frequent and go try out new places, just so you can get entertainment and enjoyment.

Hope you enjoy the snippet of my life I show y’all.