We “camped out” in a restaurant until lunch was being served. We ate lunch and then it was time to go to our gate. We flew to Houston where we checked into a United Airlines lounge--we had free passes.
We arrived in Panama City, Panama, and it was crazy. The airport is laid out weird. We’ve been here before, but normally avoid Panama if possible. The men's restroom is nowhere near the women's restroom. There was an escalator to go up to the food court, but we never found the escalator or other steps to go down. We used the up one to go back down when it wasn't moving. You had to be careful going down, before someone stepped on the first rung to go up, otherwise you had to virtually run to get down.
Our flight from Panama City to Cartagena was on Copa Airlines and was only 45 minutes. On this flight, they offered us a small turkey and cheese sandwich and a choice of adult or soft beverages. United Airlines could learn from their example.
We arrived in Cartagena and then waited for our luggage. Two of our bags arrived, and then our one bag which we brought that contained things to give away at the Feast was the very last bag to come on the conveyor belt. At least they all came. That was a relief.
We arrived at the Regatta. A new receptionist was on duty, which can be and was a challenge. I had made a reservation for a specific room which works well for us, and it was confirmed.
At 8 AM, Friday morning, Katherine (the new events coordinator), called me to see how I was doing. She apologized with a “million apologies” for the inconvenience and she would get us in our assigned room today. We like to avoid these hassles, but they seem to go with the territory. Especially with tonight starting the Day of Atonement, we like to be well-settled in our room beforehand.
We ate breakfast. Of course, we were greeted by all our old friends in the kitchen and the reception. We decided to hang out in the restaurant as it was air conditioned and our room was not.
At 11:30 AM, we had an appointment with Esther, who used to be the Event coordinator at the Regatta, but has a new job as an events coordinator at the Hotel Caribe. Hotel Caribe is the largest hotel in Cartagena and is only about four blocks away. We met her with hugs in the very elegant lobby. She took us on a tour of the hotel. She had invited us to see her new hotel as a possible hotel for us to use in the future for the Feast of Tabernacles. Scott and I are always looking for better options to accommodate the brethren from Colombia and yet offer inviting options for transferees in.
We saw rooms in the original part of the hotel which is 80 years old and still in the colonial style. These rooms were very nice! We also saw rooms in the two more modern sections of the hotel. These were also very nice; some of them were on a more moderate scale.
For lunch we had the buffet which included a salad bar of many choices. One was a fish tart. I inquired about the type of fish used in the tart. The kitchen manager was quite interested in why I wanted to know what type of fish was used, and why I would only eat fish with fins and scales. When I said I could eat tuna because it had fins and scales and he said that “tuna did not have scales;” I did not pursue the conversation further as it would be a much longer conversation than I had time for at the moment.
Also on the main buffet was roast beef and baked fish, cheesy broccoli, Peruvian potatoes (mashed potatoes mixed with ground beef and made into balls and fried), and also a few other things that we could not eat. On the dessert buffet there was fruit and three desserts, one which was a tiny cream puff filled with arequipe and covered with chocolate.
This hotel has six restaurants. The main one is inside and air conditioned. This is where we ate. After lunch, Esther took us across the street to the restaurant they have that is on the beach. It is open from 11-5 PM and has typical food—baby beef, hamburgers, and seafood. It is fenced off from the beach so you can eat or spend time in the sunbathing area unmolested by beach vendors.
After several hours of discussion we said our good byes and returned to the hotel. We were able to move into our new room which was ready. It was right next door, so that was quick and easy. It is a room we’ve had several times before. We got everything unpacked and settled.
The kitchen informed us that they did not have a buffet that evening because there were no groups or events happening at the hotel. We could either have the menu del dia or order off the menu. We chose to order off the menu for our pre-Atonement meal. We had the Baby Beef, patacon, and salad. It was about half the size of what we normally get, but we figured that must be the portion they give for the “meal included price.” We were not over full, but it was sufficient. We had a cup of coffee and then began our fast.
We relaxed in our rocking chairs in our room and enjoyed the lights of the city. Soon, before 9 PM, we were tired from a busy day of travel on Thursday, not sleeping well that night, and the busy day on Friday. We turned in for the night.