The next day I caught up with my cousin Debbie, husband Dean and their daughter Michelle for breakfast, the last time I saw Debbie is when we were young kids ourselves. Our parents came to Canada from Belfast Island, The Dowies my mother’s maiden name they grew up in New Brunswick, so we did not have a chance to see each other growing up as our family grew up in Toronto.
Winter 2017-2018, Mexico twice, Panama twice, Cuba and Florida once.
They even invited me to join them for Christmas dinner a few days after I moved out, wonderful time with their family and friends.
I ended up renting my own one bedroom apartment in Playa Del Carmen in a great location ( 4 blocks from the beach 5th avenue), only 8000 pesos a month I think it’s something like $550 Canadian, great location too.
Merry Christmas🎄🏝 from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. I am so grateful Maria and Ralf for having me over for Christmas eve dinner with family and friends, I met the family the first day I arrived in Playa Del Carmen, I stayed at their home thanks to Airbnb and they invited me back for Christmas eve celebrations, I find in South America, Central America and Mexico they celebrate Christmas eve not Christmas day and it was so much fun. They had family over from Germany, Mexico and the United States and another Airbnb guest Eric from USA and myself Canada. I like to help in the kitchen cooking, so I ask Maria how I can help she said you can make German knodel, it’s a potato that I rolled like meatballs then they into boiling water, they were so good. In the pictures and videos, you will see me working in the kitchen, the game where you throw the dice and hope you get an even number, so you can pick a present that is wrapped them open it and show everyone what you have got because the next time you roll the dice you can trade in you don’t like yours. It starts off with everyone must bring a wrapped gift then roll the dice, we went around about 4 times, it was so much fun.
I just got a good deal on a 🚲 Bicycle. I’ve been shopping for a bike since I’ve been here in Playa Del Carmen, prices are high due to Christmas, even in the pond shops, so I just got talking to a couple of Mexicans and an American having a problem with the bank machine on Fifth Avenue I said nice bike to the one Mexican guy and asked him do you know where I can buy a bike like his? He said yes, this one he said it’s worth about 1200 pesos but he will give it to me for 800 that’s a bargain, I said I have 640 that’s it, he said deal, I’m so 🍀 Lucky. Even the guy behind us selling tours watched the transaction heard us, I took a picture of the seller and I he said why? do I want a photo of him, I said just in case it’s stolen then he asked me if I was a cop, I laughed and said no, then he walked away I looked over at the guy selling the tours he said what a great deal you got there and it’s not stolen because he knows the seller he is a local. I never did listen to mom saying don’t talk to stranger’s son, you have to strangers all the time if you want to be a traveler that’s always looking and finding good deals.
friends came down for Christmas and new year’s, Randy, Rossie, Dean and 35 family members Happy new year from Playa Del Carmen Mexico. More photos to come, hanging out with Derek, they set off fireworks from one end of the beach to the other at the hotels.
Bugatti Chiron. McLaren P1. Lamborghini Huracan. Corvette Z06. Conquest Knight XV, all beautiful autos, I got to drive the Conquest Knight XV, Canadian made worth over a million, if I knew it was worth that much I don’t think I would have drove it, as I think I would have been too nervous. It was a great visit, Tim bought a new house on the water 2 bedroom and a 12 car garage on the water in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and we went up to visit his mother Helga who also has a house on the water just north of Fort Lauderdale.
The next day after I arrived I met a new young friend and now a new traveler from Ecuador Luigy Muñoz came into the Airbnb place he was too early he could not check in till 2:00pm he arrived at 10:00am so I showed him how to get around on the city bus to the mall, so he can get to Miami the next day and showed him the beach in Hollywood. I said that I wanted to go to hockey game tonight and asked him if he wanted to join me and he said yes, he has never seen hockey before, so this is his first time at a hockey game in Florida and his first time travelling alone, go flames go. I don’t have my red jersey because I had no idea I going to hockey game I was in Mexico yesterday Florida today, I booked my flight and I didn’t even know the Calgary Flames were playing until after a book my ticket I looked to see what teams will be in Florida while I was there, and it ended up being the flames.
I had some money left on my Air Canada voucher, so I ended up going back to Playa Del Carmen for a few days working with Expedia Mexico, I am an Expedia agent in Canada. After a few days in Mexico I decided it was time for change again, so I found a great deal to Panama but I had to fly north to Houston then Panama where I found a great apartment with an Ocean view a rooftop pool and gym, a block from the Hard Rock hotel, cheap $29.00 Canadian a night thanks Airbnb and a great host now good friend Martin he is a young entrepreneur just starting on his own and just move to Panama from China. Martin and I (business partners) were looking at buying a hostel in Panama City and I could look after it in the winter months but some friends of mine (other hostel owners) said no it is not worth it. Friends always ask me why I like Panama so much. Well it’s a good small country with great friendly helpful people, you can drink the water from the tap, I’m living on the Pacific Ocean in the new modern Panama City and it will only take me just over an hour to go snorkeling in the Caribbean, I can take a bus to visit friends in Coronado at their golf condo resort just over an hour to get there for only $2.50 on a new modern bus the whole country has everything you need, beaches, mountains, rain forest, hiking and lots of jungle to explore. I finally made it over to San Blas, Panama and stayed in a hut (don’t need windows you can see through the walls), this is not for most of my friends, but I sure did enjoy just relaxing for a couple of days. There are 365 Islands to explore I made it to a couple of the Islands (No phone or internet service) that was so nice.
So busy traveling Panama and still have my Airbnb in the city, I went to Boquete, Panama for the Jazz and Blues festival on the redeye bus and stay with my old buddy from Texas Backpacker Bob. http://www.boquetejazzandbluesfestival.com/festival-2018.ht…
I knew Martin had his place booked for the month of March, so I put it out there to other friends in Panama, My friend Marcela, that owned the hostel when I did my road trip Calgary to Panama, I stayed at her hostel, she said her sister Gilda has a place for rent in Panama City two-story penthouse three bedroom three bathroom with a pool and gym. She offered it to me for $30 a night USD and I asked her about the other room she said she’ll rent it out as long as it’s a friend of mine for $45 USD a night. So, I put it out to my Facebook friends that want to check out Panama city it’s a good deal. Remember flights leaving Wednesday from Calgary I got it cheap for $522.00 return, this deal is only while I am here.
The forgotten People of Panama by tour guide Victor Peretz.
Well, let me share with you some important details about El Chorrillo.
On December 20th, 1989, President George Bush launches Operation Just Cause and has sent US forces into the Central American country of Panama in a bid to oust dictator Manuel Noriega.
El Chorrillo is on the water's edge in Panama City, not far from the entrance to the Panama Canal. Many of the canal's builders -- immigrants from the Caribbean -- lived here. Decades later the neighborhood was poor and dangerous because of the invasion in that time, home to teachers and clerks, as well as hustlers who sold contraband cigarettes or beer stolen from the American military bases.
Although many people moved out after the invasion, there are still others who stayed and recall the 1989 attack.
They were caught unawares, they said, when they heard American helicopters coming over the hills and waterfront. Members of the Dignity Battalions, armed civilians sworn to protect General Noriega's Panama, scrambled.
Some residents said the Americans urged them to leave the neighborhood. Others said they had cringed inside their homes, while people on the street tried to get into any home they could, or rushed to the local church.
When the government and private investors started seeing the potential of this area, they started removing the poor people from this area. Many of them moved to El Chorrillo, only a stone’s throw away from Casco Viejo.
Get off the beaten path with me and see where boxer Roberto Duran trained and our local panamanian soccer player who will be representing Panama in the World Cup 2018, learn about how the U.S. invasion of Panama affected this neighborhood since 1989, try local food and drinks, visit the park where dominoes are played, chat with the locals in their homes and get to know the people of this area, and learn about the gentrification that has taken place in the now trendy Casco Viejo historic district.
That's how the gang members took the control of the neighborhood of El Chorrillo. I wanted to show to travellers
something that goes beyond typical tourist places, like the Canal and Casco Viejo. So I started
offering different tours. One of them caught my attention immediately: The Walking Tour through El Chorrillo.
The idea is to show tourists the real side of Panama: the local people, their living conditions and culture. I run the tour under the slogan:
“WE ARE MORE THAN JUST A FAMOUS CANAL – WE ARE PEOPLE“
During the tour, visitors can also find old colonial buildings, but they are not renovated since they have been built. There are apartment buildings, with colorful, but mostly old facades, where freshly washed clothes are hanging for drying. Some houses are sporadically made of wood, almost falling apart. Travellers will see a lot of street art about sports, people of El Chorrillo and some who remind of the US invasion.
Let me tell you about the local history, daily life and living conditions of the locals. I will show you the sports hall, where the famous boxer Roberto "Hands of stone" Duran trained and other places that are related to sport, especially to football. The locals love it and are proud that a few “Chorrilleros” became famous athletes.
The neighborhood is very lively, with children running around in the streets, people chatting and Latin music sounds in every corner. Locals always will greet you friendly with a smile. So we will stop a few times.
We will also visit a Police station, where Victor’s weekly program "Educate Me and You Educate A Nation", is taking place. The idea is to get the kids away from the street and give them a place to learn and play. Especially tourists are welcome to interact with the kids and learn English with them. I want the locals and tourists to connect, exchange knowledge from different countries, traditions and cultures. You can meet the kids, help to educate them and have an authentic experience in Panama. The program is quite new, but I want to develop it with more and different classes in English, music and art. In the long term I plan to educate and empower also the mothers of the children.
The locals are very friendly and welcoming and You will feel safe with me. For sure, it’s not as safe as Casco Viejo to walk around as a tourist – especially after sunset. You will have a very good experience there, where you will take home more than souvenir, You will take home memories to share.
After walking around in El Chorrillo, I will bring you back to our starting point (Plaza Herrera, Casco Viejo). The tour takes around 1,5 hours and it's 40 USD. If you are interested in seeing another, non-touristy side of Panama or spend time with the kids of this area, connect with me on Facebook @Local in PTY or send me an E-Mail. I guarantee you an amazing, unique and authentic experience in Panama City!
Any other question you have, let me know.
Víctor A. Pérez M.
Founder & CEO
The Bottom line: I love Panama and the People who live in this great country! I am so grateful for the people who brought me into their homes. Jim & Derrek, buddies from Ontario who live in Coronado 6 months a year. Marcela, whom I met a couple years ago when I did my road trip Calgary to Panama. She ran the Hostel in Panama city and introduced me to her sister Gilda who took me into an amazing two story three bedroom penthouse with a city and ocean view for only $30.00 USD a night. My newest young buddy Martin Cheng ,who I met through Airbnb, just moved to Panama from China. I stayed at his amazing condo rooftop pool, barbeque area and gym for 3 weeks at $29.00 Canadian a night. Also grateful to the new people I met on this trip and nice to catch up to old friends while I was there. Thank you Victor, the tour guide of the not so dangerous El Carrillo area where the police say do not enter and Luis, the street person who will make a great tour guide someday [I will buy him a phone soon to assist his tour business]!...,So many more people to mention! I remember when I first started traveling some 15 years ago, someone from Malaysia said to me “You Lucky Guy”!.... Well, I am beginning to understand what she really meant by that statement!
Now I am back to work after my four years of traveling, it has been the best four years of my life and anyone I have met on my travels are welcome to my place here in Calgary anytime, we met for a reason, but you will not catch me here in the winters as I will be taking winters off work still.
Pete Montgomery from TravelCheapWithPete.com