Ah, Panama. Whenever I go to a country, I always love it. I try to explore, try to breathe in all the scents and colors as humanly possible and indulge myself in local delicacies. I promise myself to go back, as fast as I can, but often find myself scrolling through a maze of cheap flight tickets, each and every one of them screaming harder and harder for my attention. Most of the times I listen and give in. Another country, another culture, another adventure. Not with Panama. Somehow, someway, this country found a little spot in the back of my mind, nestled itself warmly in a corner and waited. And waited. – and bombed me from time to time with vivid memories of my adventures in the country – The moment I saw the chance to go, my ticket was already booked. I was going back to Panama.
Who could blame me? A cocktail of skyscrapers and century-old buildings, fancy restaurants and traditional Panamanian food – with a lot of arroz con pollo –, mixed together with a sniff of Western modernism and tons of Latin-American vibes, poured into the capital Panama City on the Pacific side of the country. Dancing beats until the early hours, spanish chatter around every street corner – whenever I hear spanish, I’m in travel mode – and historical highlights from the Panama Canal to the Casco Viejo district. Strolling around the Cinta Costera by sunset and hiking upon Ancon Hill after sunrise, just to see the view. A busstop away of the rest of the country – oh boy, what a country –, equally as fascinating as its major city.
Accompagnied by infectious latin beats – and freezing temperatures…Panamanians do like AC in their buses. Take a sweater or two if you want to enjoy the ride – you’ll reach the natural treasures of Panama. Sloping hills dotted with cows and palm trees, fringed by white sand beaches and heavy waves. Turtles crawling out of their eggs, into the big ocean. Butterflies as big as the palm of my hand – hmm…not that big, apparently – fluttering past waterfalls with their striking blue hues. Valleys with lush rainforest and finca’s filled with cacao, yucca and platanos. Or coffee, as far as the eye can reach. Howlermonkeys roaring like jaguars in the trees. Colourful flocks of parrots flying over your head. A pelican picking up his lunch beneath the surface of the Caribean sea. Dolphins on both Pacific and Caribean side of the coastline. Flying fish waving you goodbye when speeding past them in a tiny boat. Islands and islands, some covered by mangroves where the boa constrictor has sloth for diner, others pictureperfect white beaches and coconutpalms. History still alive in the traditions of the indigenous Kuna Yala. Hitting corals the moment you dip your toes in the water, surrounded by schools of tiny fish. Swimming with manta rays. Watching the milky way for the first time.
I guess it isn’t quite hard to figure out why I fell in love with Panama – can I ever have a country as a boyfriend? – after experiencing only a tiny tiny little part of it. Soon I’ll be posting more about my adventures in Panama and why you definitely should visit this marvelous country!