Friday, 4 January 2019

A postcard from Panama

I flew to Miami from London, had a one week stopover in the Florida Keys (nothing adventurous) then flew down to Panama city. I've been travelling around a bit here; seen some nice places. 

Casco Viejo (old town)

Typical building

View across to (new) Panama city from Casco Viejo

Normal traffic conditions - gridlock!
 After a few days in Panama city I caught a ferry down to Isla Contadora in the Pacific Pearl Islands

Approaching Isla Contadora

A deserted beach

Another deserted beach

A fish

Yet another deserted beach
 There wasn't many people there, probably because of the Xmas holidays. The island has 6 lovely beaches, which I had pretty much to myself. Did some snorkeling and found plenty of fish and a few corals.
I told these guys I was thirsty, so one climbed a coconut tree for me!
 I stayed a couple of days, but with no restaurants open I lived on tins of black beans & packets of plantain chips bought from the one little shop on the island; stayed in a cheap b&b where I was the only client.
Panama city from the Metropolitan park
 Got back to the city, did some hiking - the city is surrounded by parks - but it was extremely hot & humid!!

A critter in the park

 After a couple of more days in the city I took a trip up to the Carribean coast and the San Blas islands. These are a chain of islands in an independent nation ruled by the Guna Yala indians, they restrict access to the islands, but allow tourists to visit & stay in very basic accomodations.

After 2 weeks here in Panama at sea level I was getting a tan, but man it was hot! So I decided to go up into the hills and visit the small town of El Valle and spend the New Year there. It is set in the crater of a huge extinct volcano, so lots of waterfalls and thermal springs to visit, plus hiking around the hills. Much nicer temperature, around 25 degC as opposed to 34degC down in the city.

The hill is called La India Dormida (sleeping Indian)

Not quite ripe yet!

Endangered yellow frog of Panama 

Climbed to top of India Dormida - knackered!!

Mud pack in the hot springs
 I spent 5 days up in the hills, stayed in a quiet and basic hotel set in lovely gardens. Hiked every day, visited the waterfalls and hot springs, had a nice rest from the city. Also met some nice people to while away the time with.

Got back to the city to spend the last couple of days getting ready to move on to Costa Rica. I had to visit the Panama canal, spent some time in the museum there which was really interesting, watched a few boats transiting through, then back to my hotel to start booking flights.

Ship exiting the canal to the Pacific

Ships coming into the canal from the Atlantic
I've had a nice enough time here, met a few nice people, but I must say that in general the Panamanians are miserable as hell!! Mind you, they have this special toilet paper that is so thin that even when you fold it 12 times your fingers go through it (ugh) so maybe that's the reason why. :)