The Pope’s Alitalia flight landed about fifteen minutes late, and I imagine the Pope had a bumpy ride in — the sky was very overcast, with low, dark clouds. But there’s no rain. This is a tremendous honor for the country of Panama, and the people here are simply wild over the arrival of the first Latino Pope. The tone is like a religious Woodstock.
They opened the new terminal just for the Pope — for security reasons, I imagine. The terminal is not finished, including jetways, so the Pope walked down the stairs where he was welcomed by el Presidente Varela and Mrs. Varela.
Pope’s aren’t elected until they are rather old, and the Pope is now 80. Watching him make his way down the stairs and along the red carpet, it’s clear that he is a very old man. But he is gracious and smiling and very affable, and quite a contrast to the austere Benedict who preceded him.
He seemed to gain strength as he welcomed people. He is smiling broadly.
He was being directed toward the car, and he went instead to greet the young people behind barriers. He’s here for a World Youth Conference, and these young people are his audience.
The airport welcome is taking much longer than planned. Lily and the others up on Avenida Balboa are going to have to wait a long time.