On Tuesday we were whisked to the school for the first time. It’s quite a trek out of the city: 30-40 minute drive. It is near an area of the city called Brisas de Golf (breezes of golf…I think). Obviously, the area of the city is near a golf course.
[retraction: either I misunderstood the tour guide on the day, or he was delirious. Upon further examination, the city is not labelled via/avineda according to the direction of the roads. There is no rhyme or reason for on being labelled a via or a avineda. In fact, mainly roads have multiple names: the street name, the street number and, in some cases, what-locals-call-it.]
The school is currently under-construction. They are getting ready for the start of the new year and have various projects on the go. In short, it’s much bigger than I pictured and quite new.
After spending a morning filling out forms, we were turned loose on some real estate agents. This process too was a little daunting. The real estate agents have places they would like for us to rent; some of them are not interested in the kind of place you’re looking for. Two days on, and we’ve seen 5 places. In a pinch, two of them would please us.
The first place we looked at, we looked at from the outside. Fortunately, we could take one look at the neighbourhood and know that it was not for us. It was out in the suburbs (Brisas de Golf), so it was close to the school but far from the downtown. However, if I was going to choose to live in a cookie-cutter home in the suburbs, I’d have likely stayed in Canada.
The attraction for some is these are houses (not apartments), and they are close to plenty of restaurants. Typically, when someone from Panama has told us that “it’s close to restaurants” it means that it’s close to a Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds. It’s taken some time, but I believe the one real estate agent has started to understand that we’re not looking for those restaurants (is KFC a restaurant?).
Upon seeing a variety of areas of the city, we’re looking at El Cangrejo and San Francisco. The first appears to be a trendy part of town with lots of restaurants and cafes. It’s near a book store a mall. The second is a little more up-scale; it’s biggest advantage, however, is that it’s close to Parque Omar. This park is in the middle of the city and was a golf course back in the 1930’s. It’s been reclaimed and now if 5km2 of green spaces, trails and—yes!—soccer pitches. For both of us, there are certainly some advantages to living in that location.
Finally, my Spanish is coming along. I know my numbers from 0-5 and 9 (our hotel room is 309, so “9” was important). Last night at dinner I finally discovered that I was making a little mistake. In two restaurants now I’ve ordered red wine for Darlene. Both times I was greeted with some confusion. Vino rojos which I was saying for “red wine” is in fact vino tinto (“white wine” is vino blanco). Close enough to get the drink, but not close enough to pass.