Panama Travel Blog› entry 10 of 10 › view all entries
December 3rd, 2007 – by: Missimone
Panama is a pretty modern city full of skyscrapers and good shopping (unfortunately i am a recovering shopaholic as i have absolutely no room in my pack). It has some great nightlife, which i was dying for. Before leaving Panama Mike and I hooked up with Jesse who i knew from Roatan and went to Hooters (embarrassing) then to a club to dance til dawn.
First stop, of course, is the canal. No trip to panama is complete without this marvel. It was impressive (tho did seem a little 'big boys toys' to me) especially watching the locks work as the tanker came through.
The most beautiful area in Panama City is away from the sky scrapers, and the shops and banks and down near the waterfront in Casco Viajo the old section of town. We wander and get lost in these little cobblestone streets, meandering through colonial architecture, past statues and plazas, old churches, and expensive restaurants.
Then to Boccas del Torro which is an archipelago of islands with white sand beaches, wood buildings built right over the water, and the taxies are boats. It is a beautiful area but it does rain way too much to be a paradise. We stay in a hostel where we can see the aqua water between the floorboards, laze in hammocks, and wander the beaches and island. We take a trip where about 10 boats on other tours circle one poor dolphin, then we go diving. The 2 dives are disappointing with bad viz and not much to see, coral or fishy-wise. And then to Redfrog beach where little kds run around excitably showing the frogs they have caught in their leaves. The water is the perfect caribbean blue and the sand is white.
In Boccas we also stay on Basimientos where we hike through the muddy jungle to a beautiful beach on the other side. This sounds fine, until we got lost from the very first turn, then were in denial about being lost and pressed on, past the biting ants, the snake, the massive spiders and through the deep mud. Then i refused to turn back after i crossed a little stream, stepping onto seemingly solid ground on the other side to fall thigh deep into mud - mike leaps in to save me, and in the end i manage to pull myself out and need to pull out mike who is now stuck thigh deep in mud. In the end, after a couple of hours in the jungle and covered in mud, we admit defeat, and find another path back all the way to town where we try again and get to the beach within 30 minutes.
After our island adventures we head inland to Boquete which is in the mountains and, as it turns out, is a place for americans to retire. It was weird walking from the quiet panamanian town down a valley and suddenly being in the middle of expensive homes within a landscaped valley and golfcourse, complete with theatre, a golfcart per home and expensive restaurants. Suddenly did not feel like central america. But we wandered and pretended like we belonged (being white helped) and sang our hearts out in the empty theatre and hitched a ride in a golfcart. Boquete is beautiful, surrounded by mountains which seem to have their own clouds and fogs, and lovely rivers running through.
We went white water rafting from here near the Costa Rican border on the Chiriqui river which was awesome. It was grade 3 - 4 1/2 and we were on the water for about 5 hours, with one rapid after the next to tackle. Lots of fun and adrenalin. it would have been the best river i have run so far, but expensive (western prices).
And we hiked from Cerro Punta to Boquete passed Volcan Barru on another day. The one thing i love about the forests and jungles in Central America are the orchids that cover every limb and drip from the trees in pinks, yellows, whites and purples. It is so beautiful and green here and so much water running down mountainsides (obviously and aussie appreciation there). It was a nice walk, but took most of the day with travel included and we were stumbling into Boquete as it got dark.
It took a while to organise a sailing trip this close to chrissie but we finally found a boat to take us from Panama to Columbia - Mystic Wind. Our sailing trip through the gulf sea, from palm tree white sand island to palm tree white sand island sounds romantic, perfect and ideal, and at times it was.
We woke up in the San Blas islands and it was picture perfect. Tiny islands of palm trees surrounded by white sand. Natives in traditional dress canoeing over to sell us fish, lobsters or handicrafts. Hot sun and perfectly clear water. We explored the islands and past the wood and thatch home of the locals, and watched them canoe and sail their canoes with an ingenious and simple long stick and sail offcut. We snorkelled and saw a white-spotted eagle ray. Perfect. We relaxed on deck and lept from the top into the water.
The following day we sailed to another island which is only about 150m long and 50m wide and only 1m above sea level. So not much different to the other islands except that t also serves as the immigration post into Panama and an airport.
We already had 10 people on the catamaran (including the captains Dominican Republican girlfriend) and here we pick up another 7 which overcrowds the boat, especially if it rains and we are all forced into the smelly damp cabins. It is a good group of people. It is just that we were all promised 5 days on the catamaran for the same amount of money and we have already been there 4 days and desperately just want to get to Columbia in time for christmas, and dont think we can have any more tinned tuna and pasta.
We stop at a couple more islands, one with just 4 palm trees and a couple of coconuts (just like a postcard). And sail towards Columbia. Twice through out the sailing trip we had pods of dolphins play infront of the catamaran for hours, which was a delight.
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