We said goodbye to Brian and headed down the beautiful causeway near the Biomuseo, with Panama City's skyline and ships entering the canal in the background, to a restaurant for another delicious lunch. World Cup soccer fever was still evident from the soccer balls hanging over the tables.
After lunch, Jim, who missed our Panama Canal visit due to his flight delay went off to the Miraflores Locks and the rest of us went to the Centro Artesanal to shop for molas, jewelry, and
and local crafts.
Hummingbird mola made by a Kuna woman. Notice the intricate beadwork on her legs
We also saw ruins that housed the Jesuit Church and Panama's first university. The arch that still stands is testament to Panama not having any devastating earthquakes over the centuries (nor do they have hurricanes!). A piece of evidence that convinced the engineers of the Panama Canal to build the Canal in Panama instead of Nicaragua.
We walked along the extensive plaza and looked out over low tide toward the modern skyline of Panama City.
Families were out walking on the promenade in their Sunday finery. It was a beautiful spot to come full circle in experiencing Panama. We saw some women in the town square, dressed in their traditional dresses. Little did we know we would be seeing these same women again later in the evening!
The mango margaritas, local beer, and fresh frozen lemonade was most refreshing! Panama is known for its fresh fish and the sea bass and ceviche did not disappoint!
The special surprise of the evening (Claudio always had a surprise for us!) was when a group of folkloric dancers and musicians came in and performed for our group. Colorful, upbeat, foot stomping, hand clapping lively music and dance! The women wore polleras, a traditional dress dating back to Spanish colonialism that takes two years to hand embroider the delicate, rich needle work. Adorned with necklaces of gold and pearls, a large pom pom in the front and back, and hair combs of pearls and flowers, their outfits can cost up to $6,000! They danced so beautifully, swirling their skirts while the men loudly tapped their shoes and made motions with their straw hats. They invited us to dance with them and take photos with them afterwards.
With Claudio as our amazing and beloved guide, and his wealth of expertise, we experienced STEM firsthand in a country rich in biodiversity, marine life, scientific research, cultural treasures, and engineering marvels.
Best guide and ambassador for Panama!