I love Panama! Let’s move here!
Steve says that I say that for most every place we visit. I wanted to move to Cozumel, Mexico. And then I said that for Belize. Also said it for the Okanagan Valley in BC. But this time I mean it! Retiring here is very awesome for those who want a very cosmopolitan city, warm weather, inexpensive living and, well, loads of birds. We like the birds, natch.
Here’s the view from our hotel in Panama City
Our first day we hired a man for a tour of Panama City. Fernando first took us to see the famous canal and gave a good oral history along the way in his comfortable air conditioned Montera SUV.
We heard that the LDS Temple was nearby so we asked Fernando to take us there. In fact, it’s really close to the canal locks, so it wasn’t too far and Fernando had heard of it.
Our next stop was the Amador Causeway–a playground for multi millionaires. That is, there are loads of yachts parked, some four star restaurants and spectacular views of the city. We took a few photos and had some pretty awesome gelato before we hopped back into Fernando’s air conditioned car to escape the humidity. (Hey, it’s tough when you had just left a big snow storm the day before.)
Next, Fernando took us to San Felipe, the old Spanish Colonial city of Panama, which was built in the 1500s. We basically just drove through, as traffic was crazy. It’s undergoing a bit of an upgrade with a lot of renovating going on. As Fernando put it, “first it was the wealthy who lived here, them the middle class and then the poor. Now they want the poor to move out and they’re making it better for the rich.”
I guess they’re going full circle.
Next poor Fernando fought through lunchtime, traffic to drop us off at the Allbrook airport where we would catch our AirPanama flight to Bocas del Toro.
That flight to Bocas del Toro was a bit of a curiosity. We landed on the mainland and we were supposed to be going to Isla Colon. For a minute I thought we had gotten on the wrong plane. But they then assured us that this was just a stop where a few passengers got off and then a few got on. And then up in the air we went again for an 8 minute flight to the island. Crazy.
Bocas del Toro reminds me a little bit of Ambergis Caye in Belize, but with fewer great restaurants and fewer nice hotels. A van took us to our lodging further away from the main town. It’s actually quite nice, as the lodging around the main town seems like its 80% hostels.
This morning I had one of my “impatient traveler” moments when there wasn’t any scrambled eggs in sight at the breakfast buffet. I have to remind myself that this isn’t the Marriott. This is Latin America and really a third world country when you’ve left Panama City. Things don’t roll they same way they do, say, in Hawaii.
So, I allowed myself to scowl for 30 minutes And then cheered up once we caught our taxi to town I search of a dive company.
Okay, here’s a hilarious thing about Panama: your cab you call isn’t just your cab. He can pick up other passengers who put out their hand. That happened to us twice today.
After our two-tank dive (only $56 for a two-tank dive!) we grabbed a snack and caught our cab (and other passengers) back to our hotel where we hung out at the pool for awhile. We eventually lingered back to our room, showered and then headed to dinner at a little grill over the water. Burgers, ceviche with plantain chips and a Coca-Cola Light for me.
Speaking of, it’s now lights out. I’m tired.
I typically blog on this site once a week. While in Panama you may see more frequent updates. Oh, and bear with me. I didn't bring my laptop and instead I'm using my iPad. It goes a little slower this way. Plus there will be typos, which no doubt you have noticed.