When I left you we were heading out to Santa Fe. My experience here was interesting on many levels. Busses were easy breezy. I found that if you have a small somewhat fancy London Fog suitcase and you look around with your mouth hanging open, somebody will shuffle you onto the correct bus. The locals were extremely friendly and helpful.
Santa Fe is a small village. The basics are available but they do not yet cater to tourists. There are about 15 full time Gringos living there now. The taxi drivers have caught on about getting more money from the Gringos but everything else (except real estate) has not yet been Gringoized. An effective manner in which to deal with the busses and taxis is to give them a small amount of money that you believe will cover the fare then keep your hand out as if you are expecting change. Most of the time the gave me my change and the times I was incorrect they asked for a few cents more. Always negotiate taxi fares before you get in.
I love Santa Fe! Few Gringos, very quiet, friendly locals, stunningly scenic, and you cannot walk 100 feet without falling into a beautiful swimming hole. It is very hilly and would not accommodate the unfit. The roads are not good and wash out in the rain. The wildlife here seems undisturbed by progress so far. Oranges and beautiful hardwood trees grow wild everywhere.
View from my Villa
Good Boy Ben!
Swimming buddy Jack
Progress is coming! There is supposed to be a highway connecting the Pacific and the Caribbean in the next few years (in Panama 15 or 20 years). There are developments developing. They say it is the “Boquete of the future”. I sincerely hope not. Onto Boquete…
I was excited as my sister was meeting me in Boquete. From the beginning of my research into Panama I wanted to go to Boquete. I try to give information without much bias but in the case of Boquete it is just not possible.
Boquete is Gringo Central. Everyone speaks English and some of the signs are in English. You can easily get a $5 latte and it has lots of crepe restaurants. They have completely screwed up the idea of a local market by building this large ridiculous thing that resembles a storage unit place. It has sliding garage type doors and concrete walls between the vendors. I won’t go on about this but it sucks the life out of this thing we know as a market.
Don’t get me wrong. We were not able to do much because of the horrible weather. I am sure that had something to do with our not so great experience. Also this is just not “my thing”. Lot’s of people have only nice things to say about Boquete. It is set in lovely surroundings.
So what to do…got out when the weather was ok, drank rum and sat on the nice patio of our overpriced hotel for 5 days then left for the beach! This time we hired a taxi for $60 to drive us from Boquete to Boca Chica to catch the boat to Boca Brava.
2015…what looked like the worst year of my life ended up a new beginning.
2016…begins with a new adventure. Panama, one month, mostly on my own.
I woke with the flu for my 4:30 a.m. taxi. This was nothing new. I had been sick for 2 weeks since my trip to Palm Springs for business. I was determined to go. Nothing would stop me. So I packed up my snot rags and got in the van.
Deciding previously that this trip would be a mix of hostels and luxury hotels I headed for the Hilton Garden Inn Panama City. This was somewhere in the middle. The bottom floor smelled of sewage and I had a view into the window of an apartment bedroom 3 feet away. I returned to the front desk for a room re-assignment. In bed for two more days I planned my adventure and worked on my Spanish via TV. There is no application for Telenovela Spanish in normal activity. Now, if I wanted to bitch-slap the ceviche chica bien dotada dramatically eyeballing mi Juan Pablo while yelling “Soy pregnate con trillizos” it might play…but I digress.
I did not have the opportunity to do all the things perhaps I should have in Panama City but I saw enough to know that it is large and diverse and for the most part safe. If you will join me on another slight diversion…
People ask me when I travel alone to other countries, “do you feel safe”? The short answer is yes because I’m not stupid. The long and short…stupid people are not safe and smart ones are. That is my entire statement on safety in Central America.
Here are the places I saw and the things I did. There was nothing I did not enjoy.
Walk along the water front for good people watching and beautiful modern buildings. My only tip is to look for the pedestrian overpasses to avoid being smushed in the highway.
Casco Viejo and the fish market is wonderful for a morning walk (it is HOT in the afternoon). Have ceviche and beer for ($4) breakfast and walk the entirety of Casco Viejo. Beautiful old colonial architecture on the water. Click here for map and more info!
Parque Metropolitano is lovely. Just try to say the name of this park without thinking of Janet Nepalitano (whom by the way I saw last year at the Santa Fe Opera in a neoprene truck and a horrible blue pantsuit). A large and stunning park smack in the middle of Panama City can make you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. Toucans, sloth and other wildlife easily seen. Click here for directions and more information
After Panama City I took the Metro to Albrook (the “other” airport) and boarded the bus to Santiago for a quick connection to Santa Fe. More on the beautiful mountain region of Veraguas in the next post. Santa Fe was my favorite place in Panama. You will see why! Hopefully up-to-date bus schedule info for Panama.