March 24, 2010

OAT Travel Cautions for Central America

Air Travel Logistics - Inconvenient

I signed up for the trip with airfare until I learned that I would leave at 6 am, return at midnight and transit times were all day because I was being routed from Houston through Miami with long layovers. When I enquired about anything better, OAT proposed routing me through Atlanta. And I thought I was geographically challenged! They graciously agreed to let me find my own way without penalty for cancelling the flights (within 2 hours of finding out details). I ended up using frequent flier miles. I left at 9am, returned at 8pm, and my direct flights were only a few hours in either direction.

Panama Pre-Trip - Too Long

Although I enjoyed everything I saw, the 5-day Panama pre-trip should have been 3 days at most. We were dropped off at our hotel promptly at 3 pm each day and the optional night tours were casually cancelled. Our convention hotel was located in a neighborhood that could easily be explored thoroughly in two hours. I caught up on all of my e-mail and internet reading, finished The Teaching Company “Great Ideas of Philosophy” lectures, read “7 Days to Spanish” and finished all of the books I brought with me except one. I drank many (quite good) cappuccinos at the McDonalds McCafe thinking “I don’t need to be in Panama to do this.”

Accomodation Location - Too Far

OAT warns that you must be able to walk 3 miles in a day, implying that this is the distance you will need to walk during a day of sightseeing. It could also refer to the distance from some of our accommodation to the nearest town and / or restaurant. It was always a good idea to take the optional evening excursion with dinner or you would be navigating long distances on rough roads in the dark for dinner or savoring an energy bar in your room (or scarier still, trying to negotiate a taxi to and from town). Fortunately, the optional tours were fun and reasonably priced.

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