A Travellerspoint blog

Happenings in the 'Hood

New friends, local activities and fresh foodies

sunny 85 °F

When we first moved into our condo the rental agent started rattling off all the various activities that were available in the area. These ranged from Thursday night beach volleyball, to happy hours at a variety of restaurants, local fresh fish markets and two for one pizza nights. A little overwhelming at first but now that we have acclimated to the flow we've found some fun and interesting venues. Additionally, we've met a wonderful group of like minded visitors that are also living the daily adventure. We opted not to rent a car for the complete trip, only rent one when we planned to visit a different area of Panama; we walk, take local transportation or ride bikes. The shopping center is three miles away. We've walked, ridden bikes, taken a taxi and ridden with friends. So far that system works.

We have met a couple from Delaware who raise chickens, 27,000 at a time. They are one of Perdue Chickens largest providers. Unfortunately, they are leaving soon. We'll definitely hate to see them go, but that's the way it is. Together we have visited one of local fish markets. Not as big as the one in Panama City, but there was enough to accommodate our needs. We bought two red snappers @ 5lbs each for $3/lbs, had them filleted and then cut into eight meal size pieces. Additionally, we picked up a couple of pounds of large fresh shrimp. We've eaten the shrimp and one cut of red snapper....muy delicioso!!! IMG_2418e_edited-1.jpg

La Teca restaurant is one of the newer establishments here in Coronado. Their featured night is Tuesdays. Half price drinks and a $15.00 tapas menu. Healthy pours and good size portions of various tapas. We went there with the chicken ranchers, a Washington DC lobbyist, a writer, two Canadian couples and a real estate agent. A great spot for Tuesdays. La Teca is on Facebook for additional info.

Another interesting gathering spot, which is only two blocks from our condo, is Picasso's. An outdoor restaurant and bar. Wednesday is half price drinks (happy hour) from 5pm til 9pm. Additionally, they make a pretty good thin crust pizza. On Saturday mornings they have a community breakfast starting at 10am with local artists selling their wares, everything from homemade sausage to molas, the handmade fabric designs of the Kuna Yala Indians. And we must mention, the homemade goat cheese served with breakfast was the best ever. IMG_2579e_edited-1.jpg

However, our favorite gathering spot so far has been the roof area of our condo building. There is a beautiful pool, a lot of chaise lounge chairs, a bbq area and fantastic views. Usually every evening at cocktail time or after dinner there are is a friendly gathering of the residents sharing snacks, stories and friendship. You can't help but make new friends at this spot. IMG_2595e_edited-1.jpg

Posted by rhislop 13:09 Archived in Panama Tagged restaurant red panama pool shrimp snapper coronado_beach picasso's Comments (0)

Views from the BOO

Settling in

semi-overcast 84 °F

Kryss and I have been to Playa Coronado twice before and we have always stayed at the Coronado Bay Condos. Maybe it was familiarity that brought us back here, maybe it was the convenience of the beach and/or the relative ease to come and go to Panama City. Whatever the reason were happy to be back here. We rented our condo sight unseen with the rental agent telling us it had a magnificent deck and ocean views. IMG_2376e_edited-1.jpg The first blue deck from the ground up (fifth flr) is our deck. Split it in half, the left side is the building owner's condo and the right side is ours. Not only does it face the ocean but it also wraps around the side. The building faces due south, so the sun rises to the left of us and sets to our right. IMG_2394e_edited-1.jpg

Down the beach from us is a really rundown house on prime beachfront property. Each time we walk by it our interest is peaked. Is it for sale, what's the story behind the place? Needless to say, we'll be looking into this story.IMG_2374e_edited-1.jpg

The weather has been relatively consistent since we arrive. However, yesterday we watched the first storm front come in from the Pacific Ocean. As it got closer the temperature started dropping, the winds really picked up and those on the beach headed inside. IMG_2419e_edited-1.jpg
I went up on the roof of our building and captured a panoramic image of the storm and the eastern views of Coronado.Untitled_P..a3_edited-1.jpg It never rained on us, just lots of wind and grey clouds. By the end of the day a nice sunset was developing to the west. IMG_2365e_edited-1.jpg

Posted by rhislop 05:03 Archived in Panama Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises panama pacific coronado_beach Comments (0)

Happy New Year 2014

Groceries and Fireworks

sunny 85 °F

Out of Panama City by 10:15am on New Year's Eve day, across the Bridge of the Americas, lots of ships lining up for the canal transit. We were in Coronado by 11:15am, fast trip. However, the traffic around Coronado was crazy, everyone trying to get to and from their homes, buy groceries, stock up on beer, etc. The place was busy. There was a line-up for everything. We decided to get to our condo, unload the car and then go back and challenge the crowds at the shopping centers. The condo is great, an unbelievable deck overlooking the pacific with views up and down the beach. More about the BOO (base of operations) later.

Kryss whipped up a shopping list and off we went to stock up on the necessities of life; beer, etc. In the stores it was mayhem, line-ups for everything. We were told that New Year's eve is one of the biggest holidays in Panama. Lots of family celebrations and gatherings. They were all in the stores buying food for the weekend. What should have been a one hour trip took three and half hours.

Our rental agent had told us that starting at dark fireworks would start going off all over Playa Coronado and they would last all night. She was so right. We watched the sunset, the last one of 2013IMG_1963e_edited-1.jpg and then the fireworks started. We watched for a while from our deck and then grabbed the camera, a tripod, a shutter release cable and our adult beverages and headed to the roof. 360 degree views of the whole area, as it got closer to midnight more and more fireworks started going off. What an incredible sight, this wasn't an organized city father's firework show. This was the everyday Panama citizen, saving money for a year to shoot off twenty minutes of professional grade fireworks and it seems as if everyone does it. From our rooftop view we watched airborne explosions for four hours,IMG_2157e.jpgIMG_2172e.jpg then we went down to the beach and watched from ground level. Fireworks, bonfires and luminaries floating into the sky. A great visual experience. The floating luminaries start going up at midnight; all the old bad things in your life are carried away by the ocean breeze. The luminaries were being sent up until almost daylight.IMG_2334e.jpgIMG_2337e.jpg
After two AM we made our way back to the BOO, watched from the deck for a while and then called it a night...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Posted by rhislop 05:23 Archived in Panama Tagged beaches beach new playa fireworks panama_canal eve year's new_years_eve groceries coronado_beach luminaries Comments (0)

Starting Another Adventure

Warmer climes and ocean views

semi-overcast 83 °F

Off to Panama for a warm winter. Left the cold temps of Colorado for the humid climate of Central America. We left Denver at 8am on the 29 of December, 10 degrees F at the airport. Thankfully, Kryss's sister, Kate, took us to the airport. We threw our winter coats into the back seat, grabbed our luggage and ran into the terminal. United had upgraded us, so Bloody Mary's and breakfast kept us occupied and happy.

The flight to Panama City, Panama was uneventful. The Bloody Mary's caused perfect sleeping conditions. At arrival we were the first people off the plane and made it through Panamanian immigration and customs without any issues. Our friend, Karlos, picked us up and took us to our favorite boutique hotel in Panama, the Magnolia Inn. The first floor of this hotel is a youth hostel and the next two floors are well appointed hotel rooms. Needless to say, this makes for an interesting mix of travelers. After a couple of relaxing adult beverages we called it a night.

We spent the 30th enjoying sights and sounds of Casco Viejo, the old city. Lots of construction since our last visit. Lunch with Colorado friends who are living in Panama City. After lunch we wandered for a bit, found a few new businesses in the area and a new pub overlooking Panama Bay. Tried it out, very nice place, but we can't remember the name. However, we can find it again. The decision for dinner was easy, we were going to Café Purdue, the best pizza and salads in Casco Viejo. We walked there and it was closed for vacation, re-opening on Jan 17th. Damn! Where to next, we walked to a place we been by many times but never tried, Finca del Mar. It was a comfortable place overlooking the Panama Bay. Cocktails and dinner. I had octopus, see picture, not quite what I expected...I'm thinking calamari. Couldn't finish it.
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Headed to Playa Coronado at 10am on the 31st, prepping for New Year's Eve. More on that later.

Posted by rhislop 15:06 Archived in Panama Tagged panama panama_city viejo casco Comments (0)

The Final Push

Doing all we can in the last two weeks

semi-overcast 85 °F

Our time in Panama is getting near the end. There is still so much to see, do, enjoy, learn, but shortly we'll be heading back home.

We took off for the jungle/rain forest for a three days/two night stay. What an experience! We arrived at the Cabanas Burbayar just before lunch on the 11th of August. The cabanas can handle 17 guests at a time, as we arrived six guest were leaving and we were going to be the only guests. Our guide, Justo, a Panama University grad with a degree in biology was chomping at the bit to get us into the jungle. After a typical lunch, rice, meat, fruit, juice, and water we headed out. Justo said the trip would only be 2.5 kilometers, he didn't mention six elevation changes in the humid, wet jungle. Four and half hours later we returned, soaked through from sweat, totaly exhausted. A very interesting hike, lots of birds, creepy crawlers, variety of plants and flowers. Lots of photographs.
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We collapsed into bed, after a cold water shower and an excellent meal. The dinner was served on a private observation platform that overlooked the rainforest. A very beautiful setting. No one had ever asked to eat on the platform before and the staff was very excited to do something new and different.

The next day we hung around the lodge and the near jungle areas. No more hikes. Lots of hummingbirds near the lodge, along with toucans, squirrel cuckoos, parrots and other jungle birds. This area is suppose to be a "birders" heaven. Two of the women that work at Burbayar made Kryss a custom mola with her business logo. A very unique item.
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We had another dinner on the platform overlooking the jungle and headed to our cabana to pack for our departure the next day. During the night it started raining, and then the thunder and the lightning started. The noise and light awakened us at about 1:30am. We sat on our porch, under the cover of the cabana roof and watched the show. Using a lightning timing device we photographed about a dozen great strikes, all off in the distance, lighting up the sky and the jungle. Then it happened...we saw a string of dots light up the sky, then they connected and just about knocked us off our chairs. The hair on my arms and back of the neck stood up, Kryss felt the hair on her neck move, and we both received some kind of temporary blindness in our eyes, the width of the lightning bolt. The strike was less than half a mile away, the attached picture is nothing like any other lightning strike we'd ever seen or photographed. It took about an hour before our eyes were seeing normally again. A totally new experience!
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We got back to Panama City, put our feet up for thirty minutes and then prepared for the arrival of my brother John and SIL Jean. We toured them around Panama City; visiting Casco Viejo, the fish market, the canal and other highlights of the area. To see both the Pacific side and the Caribbean side of Panama we went whale watching again in the Pearl Islands and visited Portobello and the San Blas Islands on the Carribbean side. They were able to witness the "diablo rojos", the red devil buses that move people all over Panama. And of course, shopping for Molas, the iconic symbol of the Kuna Indians and Panama.

The trip to the San Blas Islands was a "blast". The Kuna Yala Province has complete autonomy from the government of Panama. The Kuna's run their archipelago themselves. There are no fast food restaurants, no hotel chains, and not many tourists. Additionally, this is considered one of the last pristine island areas of the world. You can either fly in from Panama City or drive from Panama City. Each way has it's own plus and minuses. We drove because all the flights were booked. We stayed at Cabanas Kaunidup, a thirty minute boat ride from Canti town in the Kuna Yala. One of the travel books stated that these cabanas had a five star view with rustic accommodations. They weren't exaggerating. The views were like a postcard or a magazine cover, our cabana had dirt floors, sand every where, shared but private showers and banos. Three meals a day, lunch and dinner always included fresh fish, lobster, or shrimp. Snorkeling was great, lots of conch shells, sand dollars, fish, and cyrstal clear water. Setting aside the Boy Scout camp sleeping arrangements, the views, the food, the tours, and the new friends we met were all good. We'll return to the area, just not quite so "rustic".
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Tomorrow we head back to CONUS. Not totally ready, but it is time to go...
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Posted by rhislop 14:07 Archived in Panama Tagged islands sunsets caribbean panama pacific whale watching viejo pearl diablo san_blas cabañas casco burbayar rojos kaunidup Comments (0)

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