After some thought, I realized what I appreciated MOST about my Panama adventure was the sense of renewal generated by stepping outside my usual routine. New sights, new experiences, new foods, a different language… pushing the edge of the envelope just a little, in a very pleasant way. It was refreshing, invigorating, and those feelings of renewal carried over into my “normal” life as a renewed appreciation for my daily experience.
It’s been fun to document the trip, and I particularly enjoyed selecting photos for the blog. Nothing like a photo to bring memories into focus. These posts will help me remember why I want to go back!
So, what didn’t I like?
I didn’t talk much about the heat and humidity in Panama City. Even in the dry season, the humidity was very high and, combined with the heat, it was oppressive. We were damp with sweat the morning we hiked to the top on Ancon Hill, and found walking in the mid-day sunshine very draining (a hat is a must; an umbrella even better). Much nicer to stay in the shade, walk after sunset, or find a breeze (not found often).
Though the heat was not as intense in Bocas, the humidity was still very high. When we arrived in dryer Boquete (with the perfect dry season climate!) and I opened my suitcase, every article of clothing was damp. In the humid lowlands, towels never dried; I had to hang nylon pants in front of a fan to dry them, which still took 12 hours.
I didn’t talk about the bugs. On our entire trip, I saw but one mosquito – yet we all collected a multitude of bites from bugs unseen. The itching was minor, but annoying. To avoid chemical bug repellents, I relied on lightweight, long pants and long sleeved shirts, but still came home with a collect of small red welts on ankles, knees, and wrists.
And I few things I want to remember and others visitors might find useful:
Although it didn’t make any difference to me, most places outside of Panama City did not accept credit cards, including many restaurants. I used a debit card to withdraw cash from ATM’s (which were very easy to find); my bank reimburses ATM fees so it was a cheap and easy way to get money. Since Panama uses U.S. currency, you don’t have to try to spend all of an exotic currency before you head home… very handy.
We took cabs all over. It helps to have an idea before hand about what the cost should be; the staff at our various lodgings were helpful in this regard. Negotiate the price before you enter the cab… and if your group doesn’t fill the taxi, don’t be too surprised if the driver picks up another fare along the way.
I didn’t take a computer, but both my friends had laptops and it was generally easy to find WiFi (quality varied). Becky also had an aircard that cost $30/month and worked everywhere.
I DID take my Kindle, and was glad to have a case with a built-in light. As is not uncommon in rented lodgings, there was rarely a good bedside light or a comfortable chair next to a reading light.
I brought a small flashlight and was glad to have it. I hate to turn on a bright light at night when I want to move around a room, or to check the time… and I also hate to swing my bare feet out onto the floor in a tropical climate without peering around a bit first.
I mentioned the bugs. On my next visit, I’ll plan to bring a good “natural” repellent product. And don’t forget plenty of sunscreen and lightweight, sun-protective clothing.
And, of course, you don’t want to forget to bring your good, adventurous friends!
Now, back to regularly scheduled programming as we prepare to head to Tucson for our new washer and dryer. The excitement never ends! :)