Dear Latin America: I need more time with Ms. Stone...
Rosetta Stone that is. I'm in Panama City, Panama. My initial impression is that of embarrassment - I don't know enough Latin American Spanish to try to communicate verbally but thankfully, I'm an ignorant American traveling with other Americans who, by the way, are professional golfers here to play in the season opener. Ordering dinner was the true test of our ability to actually get what we wanted. Joel, who had recently spent 3 weeks in Latin America and felt the most confident of the three of us, went first. He pointed, he made eye contact, and I even heard him say, "chorizo". He was intent on getting an empanada; something like a large dumpling filled with a variety of meats but when our meals came out, he got a large bowl of chicken thigh soup.
Although much of our time was spent at Club de Golf de Panama trudging through heat and high humidity, we were able to see the Panama Canal courtesy of our taxi cab driver and later on during the week, I was able to traipse through the streets very close to our hotel to get a sense of the people who lived in/around the city. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most folks react favorably when asked if I could take their photo (foto por favor? while pointing to my camera)
As we were headed back to our hotel, I saw a family sitting on the steps next to a McDonald's restaurant on the corner. Like the streets surrounding them, they were worn but still managed a smile.
Next stop: Bogota, Colombia
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