Mason City, Iowa + Panama City, Panama
Real-life travel alert! Alison and Lulu are in Stockholm this week having an epic time. They tell us that next week’s episode will be the Stockholm recap episode, but they definitely can’t hide their giddiness — after all, it’s Alison’s first-ever passport stamp!
Lulu breaks the this-is-not-a-Sweden episode immediately by picking Abba as her obsession. This isn’t just stemming from their visit to the Abba museum or even her recent production of MAMMA MIA! — she’s been singing along to Abba since she was in college. Alison’s obsession this week is HBO’s Barry, which she binge-watched recently.
Wouldn’t it be nice to immediately be able to speak another language? Alison puts that magical ability on her wishlist. Lulu is completely geeking out about our new audio equipment (thank you for assisting us with this, Patreon members), and her wishlist is all about accessories for our new Zoom H6 field recorder.
Lulu brings us to Panama City, Panama, where sloths are wild! She chooses the American Trade Hotel to set up camp and wastes no time getting pretty luxurious by hiring a helicopter to take her to San Blas! It’s pricey, but she’s pretty sure that she wants to get in the gorgeous San Blas water, which is full of starfish. We have doubts. Hasn’t she talked about her fear of water before? Like, in multiple episodes? But she seems excited, so we’ll go with it. In order to combat the noisy helicopter, she picks up a pair of noise-canceling headphones with a hefty pricetag.
So, about that fear of water… at some point in her research, Lulu found an article that warned travelers about crocs and boas in the water. So, even though she’s paid out a pretty penny for that helicopter and headphones, she decides she definitely, absolutely, most emphatically will NOT go in that water. Hmmm. Anyone surprised?
Lunch at Capital Bistro Panama followed by ice cream at Granclément sound delicious, but if she’s gonna try that ice cream, Lulu has to pick up some Lactaid (hey, we’re keeping it real here). She then heads to the Mercado Artesanias de 5 de Mayo in search of molas, fabrics with patterns inspired by Guna Indian body paintings. Lulu plans to purchase a nice selection and have them made into pillows.
Always up for trying local coffee, Lulu grabs a cup at Bajareque Coffee House, which features geisha coffee, which is advertised as the most expensive coffee in the world. Dinner is at Donde José, which states, “Our mission at Donde José is to tell the story of Panama through our cuisine.” That sounds like a perfect way to get to know Panama a little better.
Alison is almost bursting with excitement about her day, because it’s episode 76, which sparked a “76 trombones” reference — and so she throws a parade! She finds a charming log home to rent on Airbnb, and she definitely needs all this space to do her parade planning! And the planning is real. Well, as real as our imaginary days come. Alison did full research on parade and sound permits. She also includes the appropriate number of portable toilets (after doing some guesstimating on crowd size based on population). To help control that guesstimated crowd, she even hires some off-duty police officers.
Breakfast is at family-owned LD’s Filling Station, and then it’s time to get down to business. After hiring the Mason City High School marching band to play in the parade, Alison purchases some pre-packaged float decorating kits, candy, and bead necklaces from Parade Float Supplies Now. She contracts the dancers from Dance Arts Centre to recreate their recent recital on the parade route. The participants all get custom tee-shirts from Splash Multisport, and Alison makes sure to include a good parade-worthy convertible. She finds one for sale locally, and she figures she can give them $1000 to rent it for the day. To prep for the parade, she hosts a planning session at her Airbnb. Hmmm. Will everyone fit in that place? Is there enough parking? We have questions. Then again, this is all fantasy, so it’s probably fine.
Before the parade, though, a girl’s gotta eat. And so do all those other people. So Alison gets food for everyone from The Blue Heron and gets cases of water for them. She’s generous that way. After the parade (which is a smashing success, with masses of enthusiastic crowds, and she totally calculated the perfect amount of portable toilets), she decompresses with dinner at Chez Grace and a massage from Kathy’s Therapeutic Touch. Not only does she get a massage from Kathy — Alison realizes Kathy is a certified bra fitter, so she gets a custom bra as well! We support that. And so does the bra.
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