Friday, 14 October 2011

This summer

I've finally got round to writing about our trip to Panama this summer, so here goes!
We started out in Panama City – and it was nothing like I expected: towering skyscrapers, fancy cars and malls bigger than anything I've seen in the UK. This contrasted sharply with the poverty and tumble-down houses seen in less-priviledged parts of the city. The most interesting part of the capital for me was the ‘casco ‘viejo’ or the old part of town which is being done up and experiencing something of a cultural revival, with a mix of little boutiques, European-style cafes and prettily painted and flower decked colonial houses.

From PC we made a trip to ‘La Chorerra’ where D’s grandparents live – it was so nice to see him reunited with them and to see that they were so lively and in such good shape. Than, we drove across Panama (an-oh-so-slightly terrifying experience!), stopping off with D’s uncle on the way before settling in the highlands of Boquete for a few days. Here we relaxed in the gorgeous Rancho de Caldera, went on coffee tours and cloud-forest safaris and saw a Quetzal (apparently the 2nd rarest bird in the world - no idea what the 1st is?!). Here's the view from our 'rancho'...

Next stop – the Caribbean! What surprised me about Bocas de Toro wasn’t so much the pristine palm fringed beaches, but the sheer amount of wildlife, which I just wasn’t expecting. Dolphins, sloths, colourful frogs, toucans, parrots, starfish, monkeys and more surrounded us. And perhaps the most memorable part of our days in Bocas was when we got to see giant sea turtles laying their eggs one night and then help recently-hatched baby sea turtles make their way to sea. The next photo is of the secluded beach just steps from our room.

From Bocas we drove back east through Panama and bid farewel to los abuelos. 2 weeks really wasn't enough to sample all that Panama has to offer - but here is my list of 5 unmissable things to do in Panama:

1. Eat, eat, eat: sancocho - a traditional type of chicken soup is delicious as are the fried plantains - patacones, ceviche made with Panama's national fish 'corvina' is yummy too. Also try the raspados from a roadside trolley - watch the seller grate fresh ice into your cup and top it off with a tropical juice of your choice – Passion fruit was a favourite of mine.

 Lobster on the Amador peninsula near Panama City (Los Bucaneros restaurant)

Ceviche at Amador

Raspados in the Casco Viejo

2. Buy a Mola - an indigenous indian embroidered panel that can be used as a wall hanging or sewn into a cushions, bag etc.

3. Climb Mount Baru and see both the Pacific and the Caribbean sea from the same vantage point. I'm sorry to say we didn't do this due to the poor visibility at this time of the year, but I'm told it's well worth the climb (which can be done partially in car).

4. Get up close and personal with the wildlife
Red frog (the hand is mine)

5. The Panama Canal - lunch at the Miraflores Lock Visitor Centre while you watch the boats go  by is an unforgettable experience - the huge ships look like whole apartment blocks floating by and the food is excellent.

As we're saving these days I don't think I'll be going on any exotic trips for a while, but I have a weekend in Merida coming up and another in Galicia so I can't complain :-)


Anonymous said...

The lobster looks scrumptious! It certainly seems like you had a really good time in Panama. Glad you finally found time to write about it. :)

~ Buday

Ashleigh said...

Awesome! What a great trip! It sounds like you managed to do a lot while you were there. I love the pic of you with the frog in your hand. And thanks for the top 5 in case I ever get to go. Why was it scary driving across Panama? The mountainous roads? Thanks for sharing!

sapro flasher said...

nice blog guys
i am blogwalking from indonesian.. I hope u to support KOMODO island go to new7wonders..and visit me back (

Tumbit said...

" I have a weekend in Merida coming up and another in Galicia so I can't complain :-) " just the Eight breaks this year then ?

Emma said...

Hi Just want to let you know that I am passing on the Versatile blog award to you.


Anonymous said...

@Emma, shouldn't anyone be writing a blog on a regular basis to be eligible to receive an award on blogs?

Nadya said...

Thank you Emma! 'Anonymous' the Verstatile blog award is not an award per se, Google the term if you want to find out more!

Nadya said...

Hi Ashleigh! There had been recent landslides and the some of the mountain roads were partially collapsed... and we had a little tinny car (not a 4x4) that was just not designed for such a bumpy ride!

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