This could very well be the final chapter. Mainly because I don’t feel like writing much about Panama anymore. I’ve shown you how to get man napped and taken to a massage parlor that’s really a front for prostitution and ventured into the Gamboa Rainforest. The only thing left is a Canal and a place called Bocas. Hope you’ve enjoyed readying these so far. Please do comment – good / bad / ugly.
One thing I forgot to mention was the hotel itself. It’s a pretty solid hotel, great staff, clean. Nothing 5 star, more like 3 but it’s ok. I can’t remember the name for the life of me right now but should I find it I will update this post (if I remember to do that). I see a disturbing pattern of memory loss issues here. Nevertheless… the hotel wasn’t in the ultra touristy part of town but a part of town that’s closer to the old Panama attractions, in a decent part of town. Casino Hotel and Spa’s were lined up all around us, so was a 24 hour open air diner that’s known to a be a Columbian prostitute hangout. I will say, I know why the Navy got caught up with Columbian prostitutes, does not surprise me.
Back to the post…
As the saying goes… A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama
We took a day trip to see the Panama Canal and the action live. And there was so much action I couldn’t take it and was bored in a few minutes. It takes what seems like hours to get a ship to pass through the canal. We skipped the tour and opted instead just to go to the locks and see a ship pass through – was that one of the slowest things I’ve seen live – as slow as watching a frickin’ baseball game on tv. The cool part was hearing that in order to pass through the canal, the ships have to pay cash, cost depends on the size of the boat and it was a Disney cruise ship I believe that had to pay just over $300,000 to pass through the canal.
We spent a few hours here watching a big cargo ocean liner pass through the canal and decided to call it a day.
Pictures to come ***
Bocas Del Toro
This is what Panama is supposed to be. A series of small islands along the coast between Costa Rica and Panama. Where people speak English. We took a 10 hour overnight journey on a bus to to an area called Bocas, short for Bocas Del Toro. We were warned about taking the bus but as you’ve read in the few posts prior, warnings were taken lightly. In this case, it wasn’t a life or death situation – well it could have been. We heard about rainy conditions making the road impassable in addition to dangerous mudslides. It was either a 10 hour journey or a $400 flight on a plane that looked older than what Indiana used in his movies.
Journey was smooth, got to our destination on time without any issues and with multiple stops along the way for restrooms and food. We arrived at the crack of dawn, 6am. The sky was starting to open but still a midnight dark blue – not pitch black, you can easily see silhouettes of forest and buildings against the sky. We were immediately transferred to a small motor boat. This boat didn’t seem like it could hold all of our luggage and all the people – but it trucked along nicely. A bit too nicely if you ask me, the speed at which we were going and the impact we hit the waves with made my ass pretty sore from all the landing hard against the water every few seconds of being airborne. [go ahead insert your own sore ass joke here].
There were periods of rain but nothing that ruined the day. Just 1/2 hour of pure downfall and then sunny and warm again. Can’t complain except when you’re on a speed boat flying through the water and you’re getting pelted with rain drops that feel like small paintball bullets.
It was a pleasant few days spent here. Nightlife was fairly nonexistent with the exception of random people on the street blasting music and a dead nightclub that played Bachatta. Snorkeling was interesting. I felt there was an undercurrent and with my swimming skills, I decided to hop back on the boat fairly quickly. My friend who can’t swim decided to try to climb on the wrong boat and they wouldn’t let him on. We were all required to wear a life vest, so he was fine.
Overall, Panama was an interesting experience and glad I was able to check it out. Would i go back, probably not but not because of the potential dangers that face travelers that venture outside of the pure tourist ‘ritzy’ areas but because I’ve been here and spent many days. On to the next destination. I hope by reading this you’ve gained a better perspective and understand the complexity of this land and aren’t clouded by the usual guidebooks that only focus on the beauty and the touristy things. The people are nice overall, keep away from guys from NJ named Ricardo – but there is a rich history and social diversity that’s worth seeing. The one thing I didn’t get to see was the volcano, just not enough time to see everything in this land. If I ever go back (for work) that’s the top of the list.
Things to Remember
- Currency: US Dollar
- Taxis are really cheap
- Panama’s beer is named: Panama
- Hot sauce (the best one ever): Delidas (now available in the US – not the hottest, but most flavorful without it being overly tart)
- Canal: Definitely worth seeing, not necessary to stay all day
- Rainforest: Gamboa is a resort with activities for everyone including kids. Worth visiting.
- Bocas: Spend a few nights to get away.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Please share your thoughts, comments, suggestions.