Hi, I'm Dom and this is my path to Panama the last few days. Our final day in Mexico was abruptly cut short due to a discrepancy in flights, so some of our Good Samaritan pilgrims headed to Panama earlier than expected. I was fortunate enough to travel directly to Panama from Mexico, whilst others were given connecting flights to Miami and Cancun. Upon arrival to Panama, the pilgrimage began as different languages united under the same notion... World Youth Day had arrived! Local Panamanians cheered as our small group left the airport and arrived to the Aloft Hotel. I found it fitting as our tour guide explained that Panama translates to 'abundance', considering an abundant amount of people were arriving to share in this joyous religious experience. Our first night in Panama was mainly spent finding our hotel rooms and sharing flight stories before finally settling for bed.
Since our pilgrims were split, those who had already arrived in Panama were given a more relaxed day before the hectic ride of World Youth Day Week. We firstly walked from our hotel to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish to partake in adoration before visiting the Multiplaza Shopping Mall. Advertisements for WYD were everywhere and our group began to bond with international pilgrims by taking photos with pilgrims from Mexico and Costa Rica. Evening mass was celebrated in a Church located in Old Panama City with people from across the globe (I saw Angola, Peru and the UK). Another short walk allowed each country to cheer their national anthems, with Emma leading our Sydney group, before we were treated to traditional Panamanian dancing.
The night was spent singing on the bus, sharing pizza, welcoming our final group of pilgrims from Mexico and collecting items for World Youth Day Week which begins tomorrow. I personally can't wait to meet Catholics from other countries and share mass because it is such a unique and memorable religious experience.