Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Skyscrapers on the left, Casco Viego (Old city) on the right.

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.

Dining room at Isla Verde in BoqueteAs 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.

Hiking on the cacao plantation Coffee cherries drying in Boquete


  1. Looking forward to future posts. Chocolate? Bring it on!

  2. What an experience you must have had. Looking forward to reading all about it...but, please, don't tell us anything bad about chocolate! :)

  3. I am looking forward to hearing more about your travels and impressions of Panama.

  4. What a great experience to go with good friends. Sounds wonderful! Can't wait to hear about it all.

  5. I hovered over the picture of the open air lounge...just beautiful! From your little tease of Panama, it sounds like we are in for a treat. Beautiful photos.

  6. butterbean carpenterJanuary 17, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Howdy L&O,
    What did you do with Odell, since last year?? The last I heard was he had a golf course he was going to look at!!! In Florida I'd of been afraid 'the'gatorz got'im'!!!, but he was in AZ or CA!! Now, WHERE IS ODELL?? Are we gonna start a Where's Odell blog to go with the Where's
    Waldo blog???

    Thank you, Laurie for remembering us 'lurkerz' who like to be taken on your excursions!!!

  7. For those of you wondering, Odel stayed at the Escapee park, Jojoba Hills, in Aguanga, CA, while I was gone. He played golf 3 times with guys from the park, and looked well fed and well rested when I arrived home. Too bad for him, our clothes washer overflowed while I was gone; when he told me this on the way home from the airport, he had already researched the replacement (we'll get a new dryer at the same time) and is excitedly looking forward to the installation in Tucson in a couple of weeks. So, life was very good for Odel while I was away - especially having the bed all to himself!

  8. Oh Laurie, I can hardly wait! We only went through the canal, but I would so love to spend some time in those steamy jungles eating fruit and fish. I love the feeling of the tropics, and don't even mind humidity when I don't have to wear anything but loose cotton stuff. Sweat is a good thing, right?!

  9. How fantastic! So nice to see what other places look like. Panama is on our bucket list.

    Mike and Dee

  10. Hope you had a chance to visit the canal from the ground and from the water. We've been thru the Canal twice, once from one end to the other and it was fascinating, and only spent a little bit of time on land exploring the country. Look forward to your posts of a country that we hope to explore in more depth someday.

  11. Sounds like it was a fantastic trip. Sure hope you've only got good things to say about your chocolate factory tour....

  12. Having lived in Puerto Rico for a year, I can totally relate to the temperatures. We were in Cabo Rojo, and it never dropped below 72.
    At one point (I think it was December of 02) a "cold front" came through, and it dropped to 55 up in the mountains, and there was a picture on the front page of the "Mayaguez Star" showing the school kids waiting for the bus in their mitts and toques! (Some might call it a "stocking cap", but I prefer the term "toque")
    For us, 55 was still "shirt sleeve" weather!
    We also did our share of coffee and cacao plantation tours. It's a real eye opener!
    And by that I mean (Donna) in a good way.

  13. It will be wonderful to hear your posts about Panama. You do such a great job writing and posting photos.