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Ross Alford: Going above and beyond

A delayed arrival to Panama City meant that I had only a day to explore the city. How much can you really accomplish in a day? If Ross is your guide, the answer is, a lot.

It was the last day of 2017 and Ross was on time, waiting to show us around Casco Viejo. As we walked the empty streets of old town on the morning of New Year’s Eve, it was pretty evident he knew his onions. At the end of that first leg, we had to wait for a British-Indian couple to join us for the remainder of the tour. Instead, he just picked them up on our way to Panama Canal.

For a history buff like me, Ross’s lesson on the Canal’s history was my favorite part of the trip. He made sure we had enough time to watch a ship pass through the Miraflores locks and explore the museum before heading out to the Amador Causeway for lunch. All along, his insights about Panama kept us entertained – info you’d hardly find in any book.

Why would he stop the minivan to help us spot a Toucan, or take a detour just to spot a sloth? Because Ross really loves his job. Finally, when it was time to head back, he dropped each one of us off back at our hotel instead of at the common drop-off point – talk about going above and beyond. The fact that I spent my New Year’s Eve later that night at a place recommended by Ross should tell you that I had had a great day!

What intrigued me throughout was that how could someone who neither looked nor spoke like a Panamanian know so much about Panama. Learning about people’s stories – how they got to where they are at – is one of my favorite parts about travel and Ross’s story is no less than a script from the movies. How does a guy from Zimbabwe end up as a tour guide in Panama? Well, you can read more about his story here. I’m definitely joining him and his mates for a game of cricket when, not if, I go back.

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