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Panama day 5 – Casinos and beware of bad food!

Posted by on June 9, 2011
Small gray lizard in Panama City

I saw this little bugger outside the hotel!

What a day that was as I had the shits all day! I don’t think that mondongo went down well with my stomach so I was confined to my hotel room almost all day! You know what the worst part was? My hotel bathroom doesn’t have a toilet seat. Yeah, yeah, it’s Latin America. It’s Panama. But I didn’t complain about it to the hotel staff as my days during survival school taught me that having a bathroom and a toilet was better than NOTHING AT ALL! So, by not having a toilet seat I had to somehow hug the wall as best as I could and hold onto the door frame as I was hovering my butt above the toilet. Oh, and in Latin America, you don’t dispose the toilet paper in the toilet. You throw in the trash bin nearby as the plumbing is not so great in the USA. In my bathroom… it was beginning to overflow and the TP was beginning to run out. And to top it off, the Pepto Bismol wasn’t hitting right on like I thought it would so it felt like a prison. Ugh, what a bad day it was…

I just had to put that out there that when you’re traveling to different countries and you start eating its food especially the national dishes, beware of what might come the next day! Otherwise you could screw yourself over on whatever plans you had made before. I was real thankful that I didn’t have any major plans that day but still, I would have liked to get out of that damn hotel and check out more of the city. It wasn’t until nightfall to where I felt better and I was able to walk away from the hotel without thinking about a toilet. The first place I went to was the casinos in the city.

Yeah, there are plenty of casinos around the city and even some bars have slot machines in them to allow the beer-drinking customers to try their hand. For some reason, gambling appears to be a big thing in Panama as people will go around trying to sell these lottery tickets and many will actually buy some, hoping to hit it big. Sometimes I would be eating my meal at a restaurant and someone would barge in announcing that he was selling lottery tickets and apparently there is a tier-level system for it which I’m not familiar with since I am not very interested in gambling especially after I lost $20US trying my luck at Black Jack at one casino. I usually win several dollars anytime I play Black Jack but this time, they rigged it! Never again am I playing their games! But other people have better luck like this one guy raking in hundreds of bucks so it could have just been me having bad luck.

These casinos are just like the ones you see at Reno, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City in the United States. They are just out there in the city and have all types of games offered for pay-to-play such as roulette, poker, slot machines, craps, video poker, and even sports betting. Some casinos have an adjacent hotel where guests can stay for vacation, party, and even wedding packages that can be had for big money. The majority of these casinos are located in this one central area consisting of the Veneto Casino, Marriot, Royal Casino, Crown Casino, and also within walking distance there are a lot of shops and restaurants that serve some surprisingly good food. There are other casinos out and about in the city, but the ones I’ve mentioned by name are the big ones that obviously have everything in terms of amenities what most people are looking for such as an internet (or computer room), gym, bar, swimming pool, air conditioner, room service, etc.

I went to the Veneto with some guys I met at my hotel where we ended up drinking quite a bit of beers just relaxing at the casino’s high-rise pool. It was just nice, sitting there and talking about this and that while downing cold ones and not think about the bad stomach day I had. Somehow, beer always helps with my upset stomachs. But just sitting there and hanging out, reminded me of when several of my friends would come out to hang out and go drinking and crack jokes and tell good stories all night. It was like the same thing that night to where we eventually went down to the ground level to go find a restaurant within walking distance. I don’t remember the name but it served okay-grade spaghetti as I was told that the food can be hit-or-miss – either really good or just plain okay. Good enough for my stomach to heal up from that Mondongo.

It was a great time in Panama as I felt like I got to know the city fairly well to where I got comfortable with traveling around in it especially in the downtown area. I would be flying out the next day and my next destination was Quito, Ecuador. The best part about leaving was that Carnival ended and the main roads were opened up again so going to airport would be much easier to do.

White cathedral in Panama City

I saw this Cathedral while riding around in a taxi.

Panama Canal Monument, Panama City

I also saw this: Panama Canal Monument.