Heidi left Vienna on July 7th to catch an 11 hour flight from Amsterdam to Panama City. Impatiently waiting to finally set her feet on real ground after about 10 hours into the flight, the following announcement by the captain was rather disturbing.
No radar was working in the whole the country of Panama and all planes had to be guided down – one by one – “by hand” (!!!). Heidi’s immediate inquiry produced an easy enough explanation – the air controller will talk to the cockpit crew and thus direct them to find the runway. The flight attendant added that this happens all the time. Heidi did not let go and wanted to know how often she had personally experienced such a situation. Well, twice, in the life of an experienced life attendant. This did not really take away Heidi’s worries. Her imagination was running wild and she pictured hundreds of planes circling the sky over Panama City running out of gas. Funnily enough we landed in no time.
Once inside the arrival hall, it became quite obvious why: there were no other planes landing and the airport seemed deserted. Heidi literally jogged through immigration and her luggage was already waiting when she got to the carrousel. Outside the terminal senores in white shirt are flagging down taxis for the passengers. When they did not bother finding someone to share the taxi, Heidi chatted up a young Dutchman and off they went. At the comfortable La Casa de Carmen I joined up with Gilles.
The following day we left on a plane for Pereira, Colombia and the airport presented itself like the day before, a few passengers and what must be thousands of employees hanging around.