A Travellerspoint blog

Bocas del Toros

Popa Paradise Resort and Island

semi-overcast 80 °F

Last winter when we were in Costa Rica we were told that the place to go in Panama was Bocas Del Toro. An island chain in the north east corner of Panama, bordering Costa Rica. We heard a variety of comments about the place, they included; "a beautiful spot", "nothing but burned out hippies and potheads", "the most relaxing place in Panama", "party central", and "Jimmy Buffet docks his yacht there."

To find out for ourselves we headed up to Bocas on Sunday morning. We decided to stay at the Popa Island Paradise Resort. After reading a number of reviews and talking with the GM it was an easy choice. Landing in Bocas was a little different, the landing strip is right in the middle of the town. The plane came in right over the roofs of the central area of the town. Representatives from the Popa resort met the flight and we took a one minute taxi ride to the boat docks. When we got to the docks, the fire department had the gate locked because the Panamanian President was coming to Bocas the next day and everyone was getting checkout, whether you were arriving or leaving the island.

We boarded the flatbottomed boat, put on our wind/rain jackets and headed out across the bay. The rain started. Just a light drizzle, but enough to remind us that it is rainy season. Skimming along we passed a number of little uninhabited islands and after a twenty five minute ride arrived at the resort. It was worth the wet ride. What a peaceful, tranquil and beautiful place.
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We were taken to our casita, near the main building, overlooking the bay, with jungle on all four sides. On the balcony we can hear and sometimes see parrots, macaws and hummingbirds. The parrots fly over every morning, chattering along as the fly in a pack of at least twenty. Late in the afternoon they return the from opposite direction.

The food has been excellent. Darian, the Chef, takes great pride in his work and style. The presentations at dinner are outstanding and the tastes are magnificent. Fresh seafood is available every night along with a selection of beef, chicken and pork. If we were here for more than four days, I hate to think of the added weight going back to Panama City.
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Yesterday we went sailing on the catamaran, "Ingwe Spirit" which means leopard spirit in Zulu. Our captain and mate are from South Africa and radiate the spirit of their homeland. After we had been out for about an hour the skies opened up and we were dumped on. The rain pounded the boat, visibility dropped and the bay became a little rougher. So, we pulled into a sheltered cove, had lunch, the skies cleared and we all went snorkeling. The nearby reef was covered with beautiful coral, so many starfish I quit counting, and lots of fish. We saw both queen and french angel fish. The return trip was very mellow, especially when the mate broke out the adult beverages.

Since it is rainy season, it is expected to rain now and again. Today, it started at 9am and stopped at noon. Now it is cool, slightly overcast, and it looks like a peaceful evening. The below picture is the Ingwe Spirit in the early morning dawn.
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Tomorrow back to Panama City. Oh yeah, Bocas is a cool place.

Posted by rhislop 12:38 Archived in Panama Tagged rain water sailing panama catamaran bocas_del_toros popa_island_resort ingwe_spirit Comments (0)

Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

Our Anniversary:)

semi-overcast

The walk about continues. We walked from our residence to Casco Viejo on Thursday. We wanted to have lunch at the Cafe Per Due, so we put on our walking shoes and headed out. The day was slightly overcast, but no rain. It took us about 1.5 hours to arrive at the restaurant. Lots of stopping for photography, window shopping, and people watching. It should have taken about 45 minutes. The Cafe Per Due has a very unusual sign above their door. A very clever wind chime and business advertisement, water, coke and beer.
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Currently, the Casco Viejo area of Panama City is a mess. Many of the streets are torn up as new utility services are installed and the old bricks are getting replaced. New streets are laid by hand to keep the tradition of the neighborhood. Back breaking work. Car traffic in the area is almost impossible. Walking around the narrow crowded streets is the best way to travel.
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The security/law enforcement personnel are everywhere. There are the tourist police (to help tourists), traffic police, quick response cops(two on small motorcycles carrying machine guns), traditional blue suited police, highway police, and then lots of private security guards at buildings, malls, etc. The quick response guys in the picture were talking to a undercover cop when I started to take the picture, he jumped out of the shot and stood away until we left. You can see in the picture these guys carry a bunch of gear.
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Another motorcycle we saw in Casca Viejo belonged to a Colorado person, or at least had CO license plates. They were expired, but then who's checking?
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Yesterday was our anniversary, yeah! We celebrated the day with a fine dinner, good scotch and vodka, each others company and working on Kryss's website. Still needs a little tweaking but getting lots of hits and wonderful comments. Today we are going with friends to an ex-pat July 4th celebration, bbq, fireworks, beer, etc. Should be fun and we don't have to walk to get there. Today's sunrise brought this view...it will be a beautiful day!
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Posted by rhislop 05:40 Archived in Panama Tagged restaurant towers panama cafe per trump due policemen Comments (0)

July 4th in Panama

Fireworks last night

semi-overcast 80 °F

It's not a holiday here in Panama.Everyone is working, traffic started bright and early and there was a cooling morning rain. Last night was our firework show. Lightning declared independence and lit up the sky. Most of it was in the distance over Panama Bay lighting up the cargo ships as they waited to enter the Canal.054_-_Copy__2_.jpg Sometimes the sky seemed red, white and blue as the lightning brust in the air.

The storm moved over the city later in the evening, mostly rain, but some lightning, which brought a different perspective. It was as if Gotham City was calling Batman.

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The past two days we have explored the area a little more, walking to a fresh veggie and fruit market, finding a health food store, a sushi bar, and visiting the Trump Towers. A beautiful building with a great restaurant overlooking Panama Bay. Almost the same view we have from our condo. Walking about has its challenges; cracked sidewalks, open sewer drains, and dog pooooooop. It is everywhere, no one picks up after their pets and the signs are completely ignored. 006_-_Copy.jpg Watch your step is truly imortant here in Panama City.

Last night at 6pm my wife's website went live. Since commerical advertising is frowned upon on this site I can't share the link. However, if you are a little bit imaginative write down three w's, drkrysstine, and the appropriate com. Place periods in the usual spots. You'll find it. She's very excited about her window to the world. We've already found two misspelled words that will be fixed soon. No matter how many times things are checked and rechecked, read and reread, it seems something always get through the final inspection. Damn!

Have a great July 4th holiday!

Posted by rhislop 08:18 Archived in Panama Tagged rain dog storm city panama lightning poop Comments (0)

Panama City

The Walk...

semi-overcast 85 °F

Colorful yellow flowers

Colorful yellow flowers


Balboa

Balboa


Bright and early we hit the streets. Walking through our neighborhood, then to a major shopping complex and finally the walk along the bay. The bay walk was great, walking from the San Francisco area of Panama City to the Casco Viejo area. We are guessing it was about three miles, stopping along the way to take pictures, visit the fish market, and having lunch in Casco Viejo.

The Panama City fish market is a very colorful place. Fishermen bringing in the freshly caught fish, dock hands carrying, pushing, and pulling the ice and fish ladden containers to the various stalls. Skilled hands gut, chop, filet, and trim the daily catch. Restaurantures buying the catch for their evening menu, while individuals peer through the selections for take-home delights.
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Lobsters, shrimp, tuna, red snapper; you name it, it was there. We'll be back to the fish market to pick up some dinner items when we are prepared to carry them back to our place. We'll need a container with ice, just like beer, you've got to keep them cold. Selling fresh ceviche was as common as Dairy Queens in Texas.
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Lunch was at one of our favorite spots in Casco Viejo, the Budget Gourmet. The place was packed.We met three young NY college girls and imparted our local knowlegde to them. We walked over to the Magnolia Inn, our original home away from home in Panama City. The owners, Reggie and Cherie Flagg were away, but our favorite driver Karloz was there. I was ready for a ride back to our residence and Karloz answered the call.

The afternoon rains came, the sky blackened, the bay started churning, lightning flashed about and an hour later it was blue skies. Tried for some lightning shots but nothing exciting happened.

Last night we walked to a small and quaint French Bistro. A Latin guitar player entertained and the food was great. After dinner a cab ride home and a new game...Boggle. Who knows it?

Posted by rhislop 12:58 Archived in Panama Tagged rain panama bay panama_canal viejo casco Comments (0)

On the ground

Panama City arrival

overcast 82 °F

Sunbeams

Sunbeams

Gray skies

Gray skies

Yes, it is the wet season in Panama. Leaving the dry air of Colorado and stepping into the humid, damp, and rainy melieu of Panama was very moisturizing. The plane flight was very uneventful until the last forty minutes. We flew through some interesting clouds that not only provided some bumps but also a few pictures. The flight crew was ordered by the Captain to remain seated for the last twenty minutes prior to landing, but it turned out to be false alarm. The approach and landing were very smooth.

Flying over Panama Bay at night and in the rain provided some great visuals, but since we had to store our bags, etc for the anticipated rough landing no pictures. The tankers and container ships, lit up and lined up to enter the Canal, looked like a Los Angeles traffic jam with interesting water reflections.

Yesterday we completely unpacked, bought groceries, meet some locals and walked to a "Mexican" restaurant for dinner. Great food, even received the "desquento jubulio", the retirees discount of 25% for all our food. Beer, margaritas, vino tinto, no discount. Today we plan to walk the neighborhood, Panama Bay is right out in front of us, the Trump Tower is about six blocks away and very visable, the fish market, local pizza shop, and other haunts need to be discovered. Put on your walking shoes...

Posted by rhislop 06:18 Archived in Panama Tagged rain panama bay panama_canal humid Comments (1)

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