A collection of insights I’ve gleaned after a week-long trip to Panama. In no particular order and some less practical than others, and nearly all involving food. Here it goes:

  • Eat your ice cream fast or the the sun will zap your treat quicker than you’ll have time to slurp up the slush.
  • There is no bus schedule. Headed to El Valle de Anton? Hail a taxi to the Albrook bus terminal (or maybe take the new Metro), look for your destination plastered on the row of windows, hand over your cash and board the vehicle with your desired destination and wait till the vehicle is full before departing.
Our rapidly melting treats from Granclement in Casco Viejo.

Our rapidly melting treats from Granclement in Casco Viejo.

  • For shorter shuttle service, $5-$7 will get you a cab ride almost anywhere within and around the city
  • The free zone, Colon: part holding area for goods on their way to Latin America and the Caribbean via the Panama Canal, part mega strip-mall at mega-appealing prices. For example, a pair of the latest Nike’s = $50. You’re welcome.
  • The Guna Yala people, the indigenous folks that call the San Blas islands home are some of the friendliest and good-humored people I’ve met. They are proud of their specks of paradise; I couldn’t help but crack an endearing smile when one of them, our boat navigator shouted over the roar of the waves as we whipped past, “Es mi Isla!” Quite literally, that was his island. (They are also quite adept at navigating the waters slightly inebriated)
San Blas, Panama

San Blas, Panama

  • Maybe this is a universal truth, but a mojito tastes best outside with the sun beating down and the humidity at an all-time high. Also, if you are in Casco Viejo and are in the mood for the refreshing beverage, the mojitos are better at the little place wedged between the Red Lion pub and the Italian restaurant.
  • According to our driver in Colon, Panama is one of the only countries where you can watch the sunrise over the Pacific and see the sunset beyond the Atlantic.
  • The local fruit is so sweet, and so delicious. I was skeptical at first (I too grew up in the tropics), but fruit cup I had at a fruteria in the El Cangrejo neighborhood made a believer out of me
  • Is it just me, or is Panama City severely lacking in dark beer options?
  • Air Conditioning is. a. must. Lesson learned.
Fruit stand on the way to El Valle de Anton.

Fruit stand on the way to El Valle de Anton.

 

Note: I traveled to Panama during the tail end of its dry season and was fortunate to spend a lot of time outside and travel quite easily through the mountains to get to San Blas from Panama City.

 

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