If you are following this blog for some time, you already know that I am working remotely and usually do not see my team everyday. However, once a year, we usually meet in person for the team meetup in the different locations around the world. This year we headed to Panama City (if you want to learn more about my team meetups, you can check out the posts from Lisbon, Rome and Atlanta).
On My Way
To get to Panama city, I was initially scheduled to leave at 7:20am from Montreal and have a layover in Houston with each flight lasting close to 4 hours. However, when I got to the airport, I realized that my flight was overbooked and they already re-booked me on a similar flight that would leave 5 hours later. Luckily, my teammate Senff agreed to change his flight as well to travel with me. Flight changing, though, did not go smoothly at all.
First, the airline made mistake in our boarding passes and they were not printing. They kept on having communication errors with another airlines for which they rebooked us and sending us back and forth between two stands. Secondly, one of the agents took our passports and left and came back with our passports nowhere to be found. It just felt like a movie where everything was getting worse with such a speed that it started getting comical. Fast forward five hours, Senff and me boarded our plane after 5 hours of wait on our way to Panama City (I am going to exclude here the part about us almost being late to the connecting flight because of the first flight delayed, let’s just say that we made it to Panama).
All The Activities
We got to Panama close to 8pm but with the immigration queue and the commute to the hotel, we finally stepped inside out rooms probably close to 10:30pm. Just before stepping inside the hotel, I could feel the warm air on my skin – it is a nice change from the Canadian cold, I would say.
Metropolitan Park Hike
Yes, there was a lot of work activity which I think I will skip mentioning this time and focus on the more fun ones that I remember the most.
One of my favourite parts was hiking in the Metropolitan Park. We started the hike in the morning and although, it was not very later, I could feel the heat immediately. The park felt pretty much like a jungle with a very high humidity. It also felt like a jungle because of all the wild animals that we could see such as anteater and a sloth as well as some turtles in the pond. It was impressive to see those animals in their natural environment – this is always something that excites me.
The park itself also offered wonderful views that were overlooking the Panama City.
Since we had a chance to visit Panama, I think it would have been a pity to skip the Panama Canal – one of the most impressive inventions of the humankind.
I have to say the Canal was very impressive but I also equally enjoyed the documentary that you can see in the movies there (also narrated by Morgan Freeman). It was fun to see the boats and realize on what scale the canal operates, but I also liked learning behind the scenes of how it was built as well as a bunch of fascinating facts like:
- It take a boat close to 8 hours to cross the whole canal.
- The Panama Canal has its own team of pilots that takes over every ship to help it navigate through the canal.
- There is a second part of the Canal that was finished just a few years ago and that was intended to allow bigger boats pass through as the original canal was too small for a lot of modern boats that were built in the last 50+ years.
- The longest boat that passed through the canal would equal to the height of the Eiffel Tower if it was standing.
- The bigger toll paid by a boat was paid by a Polish ship that equalled close to $1.5m.
Fascinating! The nerd inside me was happy!
Old Panama City
Visiting the old Panama City was probably the highlight of our activities for me – I loved wondering around the tiny old streets, lurking into the souvenir stores and gazing at the old architecture. This is the kind of activity that I personally enjoy the most.
The old city was historical, very save and relatively clean. It really did have a European vibe to it and reminded me a lot of Fort-de-France in Martinique.
Oh yes, almost forgot – we also had a break for ice-cream in the old city. While waiting for our order, we could see a couple of the newlyweds leaving the church – it is always fascinating to me to see how these customs work in different cultures. It was nice to get a glimpse!
Also, the ice-cream place had a nice message for all of us.
And one more thing – we also met this cutie on one of the balconies in the city centre. I think the dog was more of a fascination to us than the old architecture (just kidding) – well, cute dogs are irresistible after all!
Because our meetup was so close to Christmas holidays and because most of us do not really get to have a Christmas party since we work remotely, one of my teammates decided to organize one. What a great idea which I think turned out a success!
All The Food
Another thing that I really enjoyed in Panama was food. It was always fresh, tasty with a lot of vegetarian choices. I also found people very hospitable. And all the fresh fruits – feels so great in the middle of the Canadian winter!
The best part of every meetup is of course seeing the people who you work with and spending the quality time in person. I have to say though that along with that, I am also very grateful for all the places that my work lets me discover and where it takes me. Until next time!