From the arid, scrub-covered hillsides of southern California to the bright flowers blooming in Boquete, from the thin-leaved trees and shrubs of the desert to the robust and dripping leaves of the rain forest, from the moisture-sucking desert air to sweat-producing 85% humidity… Panama and America’s desert southwest could hardly be more different. My brain is still reeling.
As I write this at 7 am, the temperature outside is 28 degrees, and today’s high is forecast to be in the mid-50’s. During my 11 days in Panama, in three different environments (on the Pacific in Panama City, on the Caribbean in Bocas del Toro, and in the highlands of Boquete), I never felt a temperature lower than 65 – often no lower than 75 – even at night.
I traveled with two friends of many (25+) years (and many travels), Becky and Pat. With just 11 days, we had to pick our highlights carefully, and we managed a good mix of travel, tours, and smelling the roses (hibiscus and bougainvillea, in this case). History in cosmopolitan Panama City, and a fascinating, narrated cruise through the locks of the Panama Canal. A tour of a cacao plantation in Bocas del Toro; I’ll never look at chocolate the same way. And coffee in Boquete, the source of Panama’s premium beans… from tree to cup, we learned (and tasted) it all. As is usual for me (of course, my traveling companions concur), food was a primary focus – fresh fish and fresh tropical fruit were the highlights.
Though we will be traveling in southern Arizona over the next several weeks, upcoming posts will be my diary of the days spent in Panama, before the details slip away. It was a fabulous trip, and I’d love to return.
Hiking on the cacao plantation; the pods in the foreground hold the cacao seeds.
Coffee cherries drying in the sun in the highlands of Boquete.