I’ve finally made it! My last Central American country was one I was looking forward to, seeing the world-renowned Canal and hanging out on the beach a little.
Big shout to the Canadian girls Ashley and Jo who I accidentally stalked from Bocas Del Toro, through Panama City and into Cartagena! We shared lots of laughs and they taught me a few odd Canadian things. I’ll never forget the ceviche.
I also met Laura here – a bit more on our story later.
Panama is a cool country. It’s got so much to offer but was only here a few days, in the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro and then to the capital city.
1. Knee deep in mud, not the beach experience you thought
After leaving Puerto Viejo, I took a little journey to the islands of the Bocas Del Toro Province set in the north-west of the country.
Spending a handful of nights here was supposed to be spent soaking in the rays on the beach. Sadly, the weather wasn’t so agreeable.
But I did try to make the most of it.
Having met Jan (who has a striking resemblance to the new Spiderman, Tom Holland), Paul and Lieve in my hostel the night before, we decided to head to a beach called Wizards Beach.
To get there, you needed to catch a boat to another island then take a half an hour path through the forest to reach the other side of the island and a completely deserted but beautiful beach.
Well, that was the idea.
Instead, what happened was we ventured out without our phones (due to likeliness of theft) but with some Italian focaccia packed into small plastic bags.
We started the trek, passing shacks and following the cracked-paint wooden signs.
The beginning path wasn’t too bad, a little slippery perhaps but in my Merrel hiking shoes, manageable.
But after climbing a small hill, we saw the path ahead of us and all looked at each other.
The path became a swamp of roots, orange-clay, pebbles and mud pools. Slipping off my shoes like my friends, I got ready for the 40 minute trek through mud which swallowed your feet, ankles and sometimes, calves.
This, added to the humidity and pouring rain that came and went, we pushed on. This path saw us pass several abandoned flip-flops, half engulfed by the mud.
Yes, I did fall and gave over to the mud after a while. Sliding down a muddy slide is much more enjoyable.
And even when we reached the beach, which was admittedly abandoned, we couldn’t go in cos of a red flag warning – the waves would have killed us.
After a short break and munching on our breads, we had to return the way we came.
2. Clever Canals
After a huge, comfortable night bus and then a quick taxi, I was sleeping on a sofa in my hostel in Panama City.
Waking up refreshed and after munching down some breakfast pancakes, I was ready to visit the famous canal I had been looking forward to.
It was a short distance from my hostel, so I asked around and ended up catching an Uber with a German lady called Laura.
We got to the canal after some fun broken Spanish conversations with our driver and paid the entry fee into the Miraflores look out / museum.
Here we learnt about the construction of the canal, from the original French feat, to the Spanish and American joint effort. It was quite interesting!
We also got to see a few catamarans crossing, which was good.
3. Old Town Panama
Upon returning from the Canal, Laura and I took some time walking around the beautiful district that our hostel (Luna’s Castle, 10/10) was located.
Lots of very interesting buildings being fixed up, some even proped up by permanent metal beams.
Panama has two faces. The historic and rustic old city called Casco Viejo (where I stayed) and the new glass high-rise buildings of the cosmopolitan and American side.
Both sides are Panama City. Both have their own character. But it’s interesting to hear about some people’s opinions concerning this juxtaposition.
4. Accidental Dates
One (or two?) funny happening(s) in Panama is that I fell into two accident dates.
Having met a Panamanian guy in Bocas on a night out, on my second day in the City, he took me out to a mall where we played some arcade games and I won air hockey.
Also, later that night, Laura and I went in search of a nice roof-top bar that served food in the Casco. One of the hostel staff recommended a place around the corner, which yes, was a roof top, did serve food and had drinks.
But when we were seated in a place where everyone was in formal dress and the waitresses poured your wine in small amounts, we were a bit shocked.
Either way, we enjoyed ourselves!
We should have guessed something was up when we were escorted upstairs by a lady in a black dress with a tablet.
I think the best thing I learnt in Panama is that the demonym is Panamanian.
Total Spent: £264.33
Total Nights: 7
Cost per Night: £37.76
Notes: Didn’t budget too much, didn’t splash out either. The 50c beers helped!