Hidden Treasures: The Airport Layover (Panama City, Panama)

Joel Carillet's picture

Modern travelers, I think, sometimes speak the word "layover" in the same tone of voice a Plymouth Colony preacher's wife in the seventeenth century might have uttered the word "prostitute."  There is, it's sometimes implied, something ghastly about the business.  It is not to be extolled, and if at all possible it is to be avoided altogether.  Layovers are fertile ground for several deadly sins, including:


  • sloth (particularly if you're a high-paced businessperson who needs his or her office to really get things done)
  • gluttony (if you eat too much to while away the time)
  • wrath (if your flight is delayed and then after ten hours just plain canceled -- this one's for you, Spirit Airlines)
  • lust (if your eyes wander too much in the vicinity of certain flight attendants or perfume salepersons)
  • envy (if you see someone kiss a certain flight attendant; or, even more, see someone board a flight that isn't more than twelve hours late -- that's for you again, Spirit Airlines)


I confess to not always thinking the best thoughts about layovers myself.  In general, however, I love them.  I absolutely love them.  Perhaps one day I'll write an article listing the universal benefits of the layover.  In this piece, however, I'll speak specifically about last week's layover in Panama City, Panama.


Here you see the wing of a Copa Airlines flight as it banks to the right.  We had left Orlando 2.5 hours earlier and were now descending into Panama City, Panama.  I have no complaints about this leg of the flight, other than that nobody could tell me what the big city in Cuba was that we were flying over.  And that our path skirted just out of view of the Panama Canal.  And that, because I was desperately starved for sleep, I gave up watching "He's Just Not That Into You" forty minutes into the flight.  It looked thought-provoking.


Here I am exiting the plane in preparation for a six-hour layover.  I was the last to disembark, both because I wanted to take this photoraph and because there really is no rush to flee when all you're running to is a six-hour wait.


Here I peer through the giant glass windows at my airline sporting a Boeing 737.  One of my favorite aspects of the layover is these giant windows and all there is to see and ponder outside them.


Here I take photographs while several people out of view stare at me.  I am uncomfortable when people stare at me like this, but I chalk it up to them being bored during their layover.  Or maybe they're not bored?  Maybe they're soaking up another great aspect of the layover: international people watching.


Here I find three airport employees on break, discussing either swine flu or fashion or the trouble with the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat Valley.  (Really, I don't have a clue what they were saying since I don't speak Spanish worth a lick, but they did give me permission to take a few photographs.  Two of them -- the ones in the face masks -- even signed model releases so I could upload shots to a stock photography site.  The next day I would make $2.50 off of one picture, which was my hope given swine flu in the news.)  And so another good thing about layovers:  they are potential money-making venues for stock photographers with model releases in their carry-on.


Eventually it was time to leave Panama City.  Here we bank to the right again (to avoid a thunderstorm on the left).


Over crackers and coke I enjoy memories of my layover.



And then an hour after leaving Panama City we begin our descent into Cartagena, Colombia.  Here the rest of the journey will begin, but this is for another article.




MORE articles on airport layovers (if you're stuck in an airport, and looking for something to do):

Totally Nonsarcastic Reasons Why Layovers are Awesome

What to do with your kid at the airport?

Four Reasons Why I Love Long Layovers

5 Ways to Spend an Icelandic Layover



Joel Carillet, chief editor of Wandering Educators, is a freelance writer and photographer based in Tennessee. He is the author of 30 Reasons to Travel: Photographs and Reflections from Southeast Asia. To learn more about him, or to follow his weekly photoblog, visit www.joelcarillet.com.