Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Puerto Viejo to Panama City. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.
Puerto Viejo was the last stop for me in Costa Rica, the next day I made my way to the border where I crossed into Panama. When we arrived at the crossing in the rain we had to queue up at the desk to get our passport stamped. For some reason they chose that moment to fumigate the entire building shutting everything down for an hour and a half. *sigh* Pura Vida!
When they finally reopened we had to cross the border into Panama. Unfortunately the only way to do this was across a rickety old train bridge.
I had a massive hangover from the previous night in Puerto Viejo which combined with the rain slicked wood and huge gaps between the planks made things a little Treacherous.
When I arrived into Panama I decided to make a change of plans. Rather than staying a night at the Bocas islands I decided I was going to take a night bus immediately so I could get to Panama City and meet some people that I knew were there.
Unfortunately that meant waiting at a bus terminal for 7 hours with nothing around other than a dodgy canteen, a Chineese run corner shop and a few smelly stray dogs. When the bus did finally arrive it was minute with barely enough leg room for anything. It was also incredibly wobbley, several people were throwing up due to the nauseousness induced by the wobble.
Eventually the driver decided enough was enough and we changed to a larger bus at 3am. This bus was a little larger which was good but unfortunately it seemed to have its aircon set to kill. had been warned that these busses can get cold so I brought trousers, jumper and a sleepingbag liner. None of that was enough to ward off the bone-freezing cold.
Finally we arrived into Panama City at about 8am. I had been worrying all day that I had no clue where I was going to be staying as I had done no research into hostels in Panama City, the bus stop certainty had no wifi leaving me high and dry. Fortunately two beautiful and very helpful Polish girls were on hand to help me. They told me about a place they were staying called the Panamericana and offered to share a taxi which I gladly accepted.
When there I checked into a cell-like private room and immediately fell asleep for several hours.
When I did finally awake midday I decided to wander around the vicinity of hostel which turned out to be in the old town of Panama City.
On my wandering journey I discovered a small market selling a great number of Panama hats.
I just had to buy one.
This was my third of such hats I had purchased on this trip, they dont last long when exposed to water and travel.
While wandering around down by the waterfront I thought I recognized someone sitting over on the bench, I went over and low and behold, look who it is
Becks and Jenny from my previous tour. I knew they were in Panama City but I didnt expect to see them buy just randomly strolling around the city.
I walked with them for a little while before I took off, agreeing to meet up again that evening for dinner.
I saw some more interesting things on my travels including an interesting local festival..
.. and some rather cute but dirty animals
Panama City old town is quite a dichotomy. On the one hand you have alot of money being poured into renovating the area as is evident by all the construction works and by fancy boutique hotels and restaurants popping up everywhere. But at the same time there are some incredibly poor areas just a stones throw away.
In 10 years or so this part of the town will be a bustling tourist destination filled with just expensive hotels, restaurants and shops. Im not sure where all the locals that live here will go..
I met up with Becks and Jen again for dinner with their tour group they had been with since I left them in San Jose. We went along the causeway to a nice restaurant. They told me about how their current tour leader had been so terrible compared to the tour leader we had had together, Chris. Their leader had basically checked out and didnt care about helping people more than the absolute minimum and as a result they had not had a great time. It really shows how much a big difference having a good leader makes.
The next day I met up with another person from my last tour, Meike who just so happened to be in Panama City at the same time. We decided to go and visit probably the most famous landmark in Panama, the canal
There were a great many tourists there, including one lady that must surely have difficulty looking at her tablet
We spent several hours together wandering through the accompanying museum
That afternoon we were due to meet Becks and Jen in the huge mall in Panama for a spot of shopping.
We were wandering through one of the super markets in the mall when I noticed that they sold gin here, and incredibly for central america it was cheap, just $1.5 for 250ml!
That evening Meike and I wandered around the old town a little more taking some pictures of the incredible skyline of the new part of the city.
That evening we met up with Jen and Becks again for dinner in a very nice Tapas restaurant.
The next day I sadly had to say goodbye to Meike who was flying back to Holland early as I was going to the beautiful San Blas islands with Jen.
This place was stunning. We stayed on a place called Franklin’s island, a tiny spit of land not 100m across. We stayed in thatched huts just a couple of steps from the water.
It was an incredible place
There were coconut trees all around us dropping their fruit all day long.
We decided we were going to try to get into one with my pen knife.
On the second day we took a boat on a snorkeling trip. We visited an awesome sunken boat that was teeming with life.
We also visited a raised area of sand that was home to a number of starfish.
That evening we met an Argentinian guy with his father and uncle.
They were incredibly generous and shared their phenomenally tender BBQ steak with us and gave save us the last of their very nice Malbec
Sadly the time came the following day to leave the island. I had had an incredible time there on the beautiful island
Back in Panama City Jen and myself met up with two German girls we had met on the island, Anna and Pia
We went back to the tapas place again and had some more of the very tasty grub.
Sadly I had to catch a flight the next day, I was going to miss Panama it was a wonderful place made particularly so thanks to all the incredible people that I shared the experience with!