Panama without a passport

I’m a pretty big fan of visiting Panama. Each of my previous three visits to the country has been spectacular. Still, the 5 hour flight from New York City and the associated time and expense can make frequent visits a bit difficult. Imagine my joy when I was visiting a friend last week and found out that I would not only get to enjoy Washington, DC, but also Panama. Woohoo!

It turns out that there was an event that evening being hosted by the Panamanian Ambassador. I was not necessarily invited, per se, but my friend was and she added me on as a guest. So there I was, in the middle of a torrential rainstorm, visiting Central America in the middle of Washington, DC.

IMG00393-20100930-2032The event was even more entertaining for me because I was the only member of our group attending who had previously met the Panamanian Ambassador to the United States. It was a meeting of chance at the Continental/Copa Presidents Club in Panama City this past March. Some friends and I were on our way back home from a fantastic day of partying in Panama and Mexico City and we were preparing for the redeye flight with a few Soberanas at the bar. It was also the middle of March Madness and they had the Duke-Baylor game on TV. It turns out that Jaime Alemán Healey, the Ambassador, is a Duke alum and a pretty big fan. He was at the bar cheering and having a blast. There were the pesky issues that with only a couple minutes to play the game was still very close and his flight back up to Dulles was getting ready to depart, but a true fan would never let that get in the way. Suffice it to say that Duke won and he made his flight.

Fast forward seven months and I got to retell that story to him and some other guests in his home. That was entertaining, particularly as he nodded along, acknowledging his rather vocal support of the Blue Devils during the game. It was quite an enjoyable moment for me.

Moral of the story? Make friends with folks in Washington, DC who have access and go to Embassy parties. They’re a lot of fun and a great way to get a bit of access to the countries without having to travel all the way there.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.