Panama Series: Archaeological Sites, Hikes and Ecotourism in Cerro Punta

In recent years, tourism has become a great source of income for Cerro Punta.

Hikers come to explore the flora and fauna of the Parque Internacional La Amistad, a national park geographically located in both Panama and Costa Rica. Ecotourism – which seems to be a growing trend worldwide – is booming here, and who are we to pass up a chance to spend a night somewhere where protection of the environment is the main focus?

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Our guidebook recommended an ecolodge called Los Quetzales Lodge & Spa – a charming wooden lodge which has some kind of glamping (glamourous camping) vibe to it. What caught my immediate attention at the check-in counter, was the free hot chocolate with marshmallows, offered to guests at the lodge. While my boyfriend and his parents were asking about excursions, hikes and hotel facilities, I was busy indulging in hot chocolate and that sweet fluffy campfire-delight, also known as marshmallows. If this is what eco-glamping feels like, this fat lady was loving it!

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The wood furniture in our room was kind of dated, and one of the chairs were actually broken, but that’s just part of the charm, right? As a kid growing up in Norway, I was raised in a big, wooden house and spent quite a few vacations going camping in log cabins, which is probably why I love wood furniture (broken or not) and see past the fact that it’s not stylish or sexy. Whatever. It has a charm. A campsite-marshmallow-munching-bunkbed-sleepover-wool-socks-wearing kind of charm. And for one second there, I forgot I was in Panama.

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…Something you’re quickly reminded of, once you open the front door and take a look outside. Colorful, tropical flowers and hummingbirds fluttering in full speed, sipping nectar and teasing us humans who hang around, impatiently trying to get the perfect photo of those beautiful little creatures, before they take off – faster than superman.

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Thanks to the macro lens I inherited from my late father, we managed to get some decent shots. But it took us a lot of time and patience to get there. Trust me!

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A hike was scheduled for the following day. I hadn’t even been aware of it, as I’d been to busy stuffing my face with marshmallows and hot chocolate while the others spoke to the receptionist and made the arrangements. I assumed we were going to the La Amistad National Park – and I was right.

A 4×4 picked us up in front of the lodge. Our tour guide spoke absolutely no English and no one in our party spoke any Spanish. All communication would be solely based on gestures such as thumbs up, thumbs down, stop, face palm, you get it. The tour guide didn’t get it, though. He spoke to us in Spanish the entire time. Strangely, the slower and louder he spoke – and the more he said – the more I understood. Or at least I think I did.

Boots. Walk in water. Wet. Change. Toilet. Go. Easy hike or extreme hike? Waterfall. Good.

The 4×4 took us to a cabin and we had no idea what was inside of it and why we were going there in the first place. Were we gonna buy snacks? Was it a lounge area? Was all of this just a scheme? Was he planning to murder us? We let the men enter first. It was safer that way.

Inside of the cabin there was a kitchenette, a large trashcan – and hundreds of pairs of rain boots placed on a shelf. The guide wanted us to change into the rain boots. We were already wearing hiking boots and couldn’t quite understand how uncomfortable low-quality rain boots would be a better option for a hike up the waterfall trail, but we assumed there was a good reason for it.

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We walked through a stream. Once. That was the only time the rain boots felt somewhat useful and comfortable and not just sweaty and all wrong. During the rest of the hike I was even asking myself whether it would be more comfortable to go barefoot on the way up, and roll down the hill on our way back. But I decided to just leave the boots on and act like a civilized person. As soon as we reached the waterfall, we all forgot about our discomfort for a brief moment, and got busy taking pictures to document how fit and healthy we all were (lies).

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The highlight of the hike was surprisingly not even the hike itself, but what happened on our way back to the lodge. The 4×4 that picked us up in the morning had not yet arrived, but another one was there – but to our disappointment, it was just a two-seater. My boyfriend’s father jokingly suggested that we could ride with him. In the back. Standing up. Now, let me tell you one thing. This may be totally legal in your country, but it sure isn’t legal in the country I’m from nor the one I live in. Because of that, I was a bit hesitant at first, but once the vehicle started going down the (bumpy) hill  and we passed the wicked jungle landscape and felt the wind blowing in our faces, it felt nothing but magical….until my boyfriend’s mother, who stayed in the passenger’s seat, vomited out the window.

Our hike was done, but our adventures were far from over. Tim, the friendly receptionist back in Boquete, had told us about an amazing archaeological site and museum in Volcan (close to Cerro Punta) and we were eager to visit!

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Sitio Barriles is an archaeological site on a local family’s property. Here, National Geographic and several universities have participated in the discovery of many hidden Native American artifacts. Edna, the owner of the land, the museum – and guardian of all the archaeological discoveries made on her property- gave us a fantastic tour and a lot of interesting information about not just the pottery, statues and other items found, but also about her beautiful garden and all the different plants.

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The place is in need of funding, as there’s a lot of maintenance work to be done, so if you decide to head over to Sitio Barriles, please donate a little while you’re there. For a good cause. For history!

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Other things you can do in Cerro Punta or nearby… And why I didn’t do it:

  • 11 hour hike to catch the sunrise and climb the Volcan Baru – I’m not fit for those things. Sign me up for the next season of ‘the biggest loser’ and maybe then….maaaybe…I’ll be able to do HALF that hike.
  • The spa treatments at our ecolodge Los Quetzales Lodge & SpaThe prices were the same as spa treatments back home, so we prioritized our budget differently. I’m all up for sponsored spa treatments, though. Anyone? Yes? Maybe? No?
  • Finca Dracula (Botanical garden for orchids) – We wanted to visit, but it was closed for renovation.

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Sitio Barriles:

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Hiking in La Amistad:

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Next post will be the last one on Panama – and it will be from the beautiful islands in Bocas del Toro!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Panama Series: What’s up in Santa Catalina?

We hadn’t spend much time in Pedasi, yet just enough to give us a sweet taste of the burning sun, the cool, turquoise saltwater, the soft, white sand and the calm atmosphere on the beach. Good thing we were headed to yet another beach location. A surf town, to be more specific. Before you ask, I don’t know how to surf. Nor do I know what to expect  from a surfers hotel or hangout spots. But sometimes, not knowing what to expect turns out to be either a great surprise or… “not so funny when it happens, yet kind of funny in hindsight” – kind of stories. Or just a life lesson.

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Our hotel – or hostel (depending on which staff member you asked) – was located a few kilometers outside of the town center. We didn’t mind, as we had our car and weren’t planning on doing anything besides going to the beach before having dinner and drinks at the hotel. I would have loved to visit Coiba Island and go snorkeling, but we didn’t have time for any full day excursions like that, as we had a tight schedule the following morning. I tried my hardest to hide my disappointment and not come off as a spoiled brat, but everyone could read me like an open book with ‘ungrateful piece of….’ written in bold capital letters on the front page.

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Our hotel/hostel looked absolutely gorgeous from the outside. Surfboards and palm trees decorating the outdoor common area, giving the hotel just the right vibe. The view over the beach was spectacular, and I couldn’t wait to dip my toes into the crystal clear water.

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However, when we checked into our rooms, I wasn’t sure whether I was indeed an ungrateful child or if I was allowed to speak up and express my opinion. What from the outside appeared to be like a tropical paradise, was just a facade. Because the rooms were disgusting. They were worse than a cheap motel I once stayed at in the UK, where I found bloodstains on the wall. At least those stains were identifiable. In our rooms here in the hotel/hostel in Santa Catalina, I had no idea what on earth I was looking at – or where to start looking. The curtains were covered in stains of all colors. Some looked like sperm, others could be vomit, food or – who knows. There were pieces of chewing gum stuck to the curtains, as well.

The bed sheets had hairs of different long haired people in it. Black, brown, blonde. And some stains of what could be tomato sauce (or vomit) on the pillow cases. And then there was the large chunk of black hair found in the shower and all the random stains in the sink. Lovely. The towels had some clean areas, but were stained pretty much all over. I had to go to my boyfriends’ parents room to ask for toilet paper, as we had absolutely nothing in our room. The parents had already decided to sleep with their clothes on and would certainly leave a complaint upon checkout. We all agreed that asking for a new room would change nothing. They were probably all just as bad. And it was just for a night anyway.

We used our own clothes as pillowcases and covered the sheets with our dirty beach towels. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather rub my face against sand and sea salt than a random persons bodily fluids.

After turning the disgusting bed into a camping arrangement, we changed into our swimwear and headed down to the beach. Just like in Pedasi, there were dogs running around freely, and washed up plastic littered the otherwise gorgeous sandy beach. The waves were calm, and I’m sure all the surfers who came to Santa Catalina because of its reputation as a surfers point, were feeling kind of disappointed for not being able to go out there and practice. “I’m thirtsty”, I said to my boyfriend – who forwarded the message to his parents, changing it to we’re thirsty, meaning, we wanted cocktails.

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The hotel restaurant didn’t disappoint us the way the rooms did. Not at all. The cocktails were delicious – and cheap – and the food was good. Although, I think Mexicans would shake their heads in shame if they saw my tacos, I enjoyed the taste of them. But then again, I enjoy Taco Bell too, so I’m probably not your greatest source for high quality Tex-Mex recommendations. But trust me on those Pina Coladas and Margharitas!

Getting drunk seemed like a great idea. It would make it easier for me to fall asleep in that dreadful room, and maybe – if I was lucky – it would even wipe away the memory of what I’d seen. Not trying to be overdramatic at all, but this makes me realize how much I appreciate cleanliness above anything else when traveling.

Adios, Santa Catalina. Next stop; Boquete!

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Panama Series: Adventures in El Valle de Anton

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After finishing a large last breakfast at our hotel in Panama City, we packed our bags and went to pick up the rental car – a Toyota 4×4 – because on rocky terrain and steep hills, only a car that size will be able to make it in one piece. By all means, renting a fancy impractical car would have made an excellent “how everything went wrong” kind of story, kind of like the plot of a poorly rated comedy flick. However, we didn’t want that kind of adventure. Nor did we sign up for what happened in El Valle de Anton, which is a completely different story. I’ll get back to that later. Needless to say I am now laughing about it in hindsight – although it wasn’t funny at all when it happened…

The day started out well. We got in the car, got on the road and drove the 128 kilometers from Panama City to El Valle de Anton – a town I had done little to no research on in advance. All I knew was that we were going hiking, and that we’d be staying in Hostel Orchid, which according to their official description, is the first genuine backpacker’s hostel in El Valle de Anton. The hostel is also the location of a beautiful orchid conservation. I was looking forward to seeing all the gorgeous flowers!

Two hours later, we made it to El Valle de Anton and stopped by a supermarket before heading to the hostel. We loaded the car with water bottles, plantain chips, yuka chips, nacho chips, dip, more dip, another dip, fruit juice and rum. Because, that’s obviously how you do lunch before going hiking.

The hostel was kind of hard to find, but we found it. Turned out it wasn’t  the right season for orchids, so we saw in total three flowers. Three individual flowers. Two that were gorgeous, and one I didn’t like, because I think those kind of flowers look vulgar. My significant other shakes his head whenever I say that, and tell me I have a sick mind. Well, he knows which flowers not to get me for Valentine’s Day.

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As I was already starving, I finished a bag of plantain chips before we left the hostel to do the Chorro El Macho hike, which turned out to be a nice but very short hike. We admired an impressive waterfall, stopped to photograph it, scouted for birds and animals, saw absolutely no birds nor animals and crossed a scary rope bridge – which is probably not scary to anybody else but me (I guess), as I’m terrified of heights and anything that makes me feel like I’m gonna fall into my death.

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At the end of the hike there was a natural lagoon. I dipped my toes into the water. It felt good – too good. Now, why didn’t I put on a bikini before going hiking? No matter how illogical it seems to wear a bikini underneath hiking-clothes, I guess I’ll have to start making it a priority when in countries with warm climates (this situation occurred more than once during this trip).

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As the hike was way shorter than we’d expected, we figured we’d have time to do yet another hike and see more amazing waterfalls. We had previously read about Chorro Las Mozas and realized today was our lucky day. Two hikes in one day. Two birds with one stone, right?

We parked the car, prepared our backpacks, but something seemed a bit off. Only a few people were there, and the gate was closed. Was it really closed? Mother-in-law who speaks the least Spanish out of the four of us (none of us speak Spanish) got out of the car to ask someone who may or may not have worked there, if it was still okay for us to enter. They didn’t speak any English – except from the word CLOSED. And that was it.

“What do we do now? It’s only four O’clock” we all said, and desperately drove from one tourist attraction to another, searching for something – anything – to do. We discovered a butterfly farm called Butterfly Haven, which was unfortunately closed as well, so we scheduled it in for the following morning as a last activity in El Valle de Anton before moving on to the next destination.

It seemed like absolutely everything was closed and everyone in El Valle de Anton had taken the rest of the day off, so we returned to the hostel to hang out and drink rum and fruit juice and eat more chips before heading out to a local restaurant for dinner in the evening. And that’s when the unthinkable happened…

The lights went out. The power was out. We asked the staff at the hostel if there was anything they could do to fix it, and they looked at us as if we’d never been to a small town in Central America before (which at least two of us hadn’t). “This is a small town. The power cuts quite often here. It will only take a few minutes – one hour tops, and it will be back” the receptionist said. We waited. And waited. And waited even longer. Minutes became hours. We were starting to get hungry and got in the car, in search of a restaurant. Dumb as we were, it never even crossed our minds that none of the restaurants would have any power either. And they didn’t. The restaurants were all closed.

Disappointed and with growling bellies, we returned to the hostel and finished our chips and dip before going to bed at eight PM – because we were bored and miserable.

This night, we’d all be sharing a room. My boyfriend, his parents and I. The room had a large double bed and a bunk bed. As always, the kids go in the bunk bed – and since I am the least fat one out of me and my man, I had to take the top bunk. For some reason, the bunk bed was centered in the middle of the room and had no edges. You roll over, you fall out of bed and break your legs. Or even worse, your neck. I laid there, anxious, imagining myself becoming paralyzed while on vacation in Panama. Nope, I ain’t having it.

As the evening fell, it got more and more windy outside. The wind was howling and shaking the roof like crazy. The windows had no glass, just mosquito nets covering them, and the roof had a two centimeter gap, and the walls felt fragile. Oh, how they were fragile. But not as much as the roof. The wind distracted me from my newfound “bunk bed without edges”-phobia, and got my mind busy picturing the building getting ripped apart by a tornado instead. Nice.

Not everything went wrong, though. We remembered to pack flashlights, so we were still able to find the toilet, the bed and the way out. And the hostel was clean. Now, while staying at a hostel, that’s considered luxury (it’s my only clean hostel experience!). And I DO recommend this place, as the staff was helpful and friendly and I’m sure the garden is amazingly beautiful when the orchids are blooming. And the property itself is lovely. So please, check out Hostel Orchid – and wherever you decide to stay while visiting El Valle de Anton, pack your flashlight and an extra sandwich!

I have no idea what time I finally fell asleep, but it felt like I’d only slept for one hour when suddenly I woke up by the sound of my boyfriend talking loud to his father. He turned to me and asked me if I was awake. Well, I sure was now. “What time is it?”, I mumbled. My phone was dead. Apparently it was five thirty am. Excellent. What can one possibly do at  five thirty, besides sleeping?

By seven thirty, we were all showered, dressed, packed and ready to check out from the hostel and find somewhere to go for breakfast. The power was back, so this time there was no excuse for restaurants and cafes to be closed other than how early it was. Heaven’s Cafe was our lifesaver. By the time we got our food, we were so hungry I’m sure we’d all willingly eat the cafe’s plastic furniture if our breakfast hadn’t arrived in time. My grilled cheese, smoothie and cafe latte tasted…heavenly. Pun intended.

After our much needed breakfast, we were all pumped up with new energy and a clear head, and decided to check out the artisan and vegetable market before visiting Butterfly Haven. My boyfriend and I bought nothing, but his parents found some nice souvenirs to take home. Me, I’m not much of a souvenir collector. I hate dusting ornaments, and I move around too much.

Butterfly Haven was my highlight of our stay in El Valle de Anton. The guide, John, was very knowledgeable and eager to answer any questions asked about butterflies. Butterfly Haven’s mission is to nurture and protect butterflies and educate as many people as possible about them. We enjoyed photographing them and I even had the pleasure of having a butterfly land on my arm and stay there for five minutes. Obviously, I didn’t touch it, as their wings are extremely fragile and would most likely be damaged by it. Nor did I move my arm. I stayed in the exact same position until the butterfly decided to fly away. Five minutes. Plenty enough time to take some cute pictures of the little beauty!

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3 important things to remember when visiting El Valle de Anton:

  • The money you spend on visiting the Orchid Conservatory (at Hostel Orchid), Butterfly Haven and the different hiking trails, go towards maintenance and protection of the nature and environment – and people who work hard to conserve it.
  • In case the power cuts, bring a flashlight/headlamp, portable charger and something to eat (that requires no pre-cooking or a refrigerator)
  • Bring a light jacket or a sweater. It gets really windy and slightly chilly in the evening.

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Next stop on my Panama adventures is the beach town Pedasi!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panama Series: In and Out of Panama City

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After two weeks off from blogging, due to a combination of long drives, sketchy WiFi, busy schedule and well needed rest and family-time, I’m finally home and ready to give you all the juicy updates and tips on what to see, where to go, what to do, what not to do – and whatever else I feel is necessary to share about the country famous for its canal, its hat (which is not even from Panama, but from Ecuador) and the Panama Papers scandal. There’s so much more to this country than that – so let’s take it all the way to the beginning of my journey. Welcome to the Miami of Central America; Welcome to Panama City!

There I was. Baggage claim, waiting for my neon-green suitcase alongside my boyfriend and his parents – and a bunch of sexy Latin women. The twelve hour flight had got me all sweaty, sticky and smelly – which was a nice little feature to the disgusting hobo-look I got going for me while flying long distance. I wanted to hide my pale face and my greasy hair inside of my dirty hoodie.

We wanted to take the local bus to Panama City in order to save some money, but language barriers guided us to, well, nowhere really… That was until we eventually found the bus stop for the local bus, but were told we needed to buy a buss pass in advance – at the central bus station. At least that’s what we thought we were told. Again, language barriers.

In Panama City there might be more taxis than inhabitants, so you can only imagine how many taxis approached us while we were waiting at the bus stop, scratching our heads. We eventually gave in and allowed a taxi to take us to our hotel, the gorgeous Sercotel Panama Princess ****.

The hotel rooms were spacious, clean and everything I needed after such a long flight. I took a well needed shower, got dressed and went downstairs to the lobby bar to celebrate the beginning of an adventurous vacation with my French family-in law. I raised my glass of Kiwi Sour, the men raised their bottles of Panamanian beer, and mother-in-law raised her glass of whatever it was she was drinking. Salud!

Day 1: Miraflores Locks , Panama Viejo & Casco Viejo (Old Town)

You can’t visit Panama City without visiting the famous Panama Canal. You just can’t. Whether you are interested in the technicality of the locks, the history, the clever construction, the cargo ships lining up to pass through – and even if you’re just curious about everything in general (like me), it’s something you shouldn’t miss out on. We made plans to visit the Miraflores locks the first day and the Gatun locks the next.

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Before you ask, one hour or one hour and a half gives you way enough time to spend at the Miraflores locks, unless you want to see the same thing over again and again. One hour was enough for us to see a cruise ship as well as different cargo ships, pass through the locks. Of course, there are tourists everywhere, so you might wanna go upstairs, downstairs or wait your turn for a good view. Food can be purchased on site. There are restaurants, a kiosk and a coffee shop in the Visitor Center.

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The taxi driver who took us to Miraflores, waited patiently  in the car while we visited the locks – and no, he didn’t charge us anything extra. We returned to the taxi and continued our quest to sight-see as much as possible. This time direction Panama Viejo – which is not Old Town Panama, but Old-Old Town Panama: The Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District of Panama.

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We spent an hour and a half strolling along the pathway, photographing the ruins and learning the history behind them all, before once again returning to the taxi to move on to yet another exciting location: Casco Viejo!

Casco Viejo is Spanish for Old Town, and it was everything I hoped it would be – and more. Picturesque, colorful buildings, narrow streets, terrace cafes, a market selling souvenirs to curious tourists and bars offering tropical cocktails and snacks to festive visitors. The charming architecture and tranquil atmosphere made it feel miles away from the modern city center and all the gigantic skyscrapers. We enjoyed a couple of fruity drinks before returning to the hotel to enjoy the outdoor swimming pool for a little while, before getting dressed up and ready to explore Panamanian cuisine for the very first time.

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Ah, Panamanian cuisine! My meal that evening was delicious (in case you wondered). Tinajas turned out to be an excellent choice of restaurant. As a starter, I ordered empanadas – high quality ones. Perfect balance of sweet and savory, with its caramelized onion dipping sauce to give it an interesting touch. My main dish, the yuka pie, may have looked like a small dish – but don’t be fooled. It kept me full – extremely full – until the next day. The dish was rich in flavor as well as textures. I loved it. We raised our glasses once again. This time to celebrate an eventful and enjoyable first day. Salud!

Day 2: Colon, Gatun locks, Fort San Lorenzo & Panama Canal Railway

“Taxi? Taxi!”, another yellow car pulled over. Another driver offering to take the obvious tourists to wherever they needed to go. “The central bus station” was definitely not his first, second or even third guess, but once we explained that we were taking the bus to Colon to see the Gatun locks, it all seemed to make sense to him after all. And we were already aware of the fact that Colon, the city itself, is the most dangerous city in Panama. It’s not a place for Europeans with a bad sense of direction, to wander around with their valuables on display and no self defense skills, whatsoever.

The bus from Panama City to Colon was quite the tourist attraction, though. The folklore decorations inside of the bus looked like a mix between a gypsy’s den and my grandma’s living room, and the TV-screen was showing some random Spanish soap opera to keep the passengers entertained during the journey.

We had barely even touched Colon soil, before a beggar wearing a trash bag as underpants, approached us in Spanish. I felt bad for him, and wanted to give him a coin or two, but was too scared to take out my wallet in public in a city like that. We hadn’t even finished the phrase “yo no hablo Español” before a taxi interrupted us and asked us where we needed to go – because staying downtown in Colon was completely out of question.

The driver spoke absolutely no English nor French, but that didn’t stop him from being a real chatterbox. We understood bits and pieces of what he was talking about, but every now and then messages seemed to get lost in translation. We managed to get by with a mix of Spanglish and French, accompanied by gestures and photos from our guidebook, and in the end it all worked out well. The driver, whose name was Eric (I think), suggested we’d take the ferry through the locks (which is free) rather than entering the visitor center of Gatun locks, where we wouldn’t have been able to see much anyway. From the deck of the ferry we saw the ocean from both the Pacific and the Atlantic side. The fresh breeze, the gentle waves and the fantastic view – now, this was the highlight of the day, so far.

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Back on the road, direction Fort San Lorenzo, an ancient Spanish fortress. The fort’s ruins and the village site are located 13 km west of Colon. Fort San Lorenzo is government-protected and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tiny monkey caught our attention while walking from the car towards the historical site. Rapidly, he disappeared and left us curious to find out if there were any other animals hiding up there, in the trees above us. There weren’t.

We did however see an iguana crossing the street and entering the public bathroom.

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The only thing left on the agenda for the day was to take the Panama Canal Railway from Colon back to Panama City. We still had nearly two hours to kill before boarding the train, and Eric didn’t want to leave us wandering the streets of Colon by ourselves. He offered to drive us to a restaurant in the city, which was fine by us, as we were all starting to feel hungry anyway.

Judging from the outside, the restaurant looked kind of creepy and didn’t really give us the desire to enter. The windows were tinted and the place looked anything but inviting. That was, until a gentleman opened the door and greeted us in English. All the other guests in the restaurant were tourists, just like us, and we knew we were safe.

Tender creole chicken, served with rice and fried plantains was exactly the lunch I needed. I love creole seasoning. And plantains. I forgot all about where I was and focused only on my meal. Time goes by so fast when you’re enjoying yourself – and a meal – and before we knew it, it was time to find Eric’s taxi and head to the Panama Canal Railway station.

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In case you wondered, Panama Canal Railway is not a regular train. This is an experience unlike any other and you’ll have the most picturesque view from the window – I promise! The railroad follows a scenic path across a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, passing through the gorgeous rain forests, cruising alongside the locks of the Panama Canal, through the historic Gaillard Cut and passing the slender causeways in Gatun Lake.

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Arriving in Panama City, taxis were already waiting outside of the station for potential costumers. As it was our last evening in Panama City, we decided to return to Casco Viejo for a couple of drinks. More specifically, to the rooftop bar at Tantalo Hotel.

The view from the rooftop bar was amazing, and so were the drinks. We laughed, we drank, we tweeted and instagrammed – just to let everyone back in Europe know that we were living the dream. Salud!

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5 random things I have learned from visiting Panama City:

  • It’s necessary to know some Spanish, even in the capital.
  • If you don’t like Panamanian cuisine, there’s Taco Bell, Hooters, McDonalds, KFC, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, you name it.. they’re all there.
  • Panama City has a very charming Old Town, and you can easily avoid the skyscrapers if you want to.
  • There might even be more taxis in Panama City than in New York.
  • It’s an expensive city.

Next post in the Panama-series will be on: Valle de Anton. Stay tuned!

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