Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Pulpo - octopusWhen we settled in here at Paws and Hooves ranch and I sat down to chat with Auntie Carol, she asked me a great question: what was my favorite aspect of my trip to Panama? A place? An experience?

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? 

Out of breath on Ancon HillI 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:

Watching the dolphinsAlthough 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. 

Pat and Becky as we rise up.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!  :)


  1. The bugs definitely aren't that much fun. My friend went kayaking just north of Panama in Nicaragua and was literally attached by killer bees. Real killer bees. She is a world adventurer, but says she won't kayak in the tropics again. The humidity? I actually love the feel of it for a short time. Like you said, getting outside your comfort zone and feeling something completely different is fun for me. Wrinkles soften and my feet don't crack! Loved reading about your trip, Laurie.

  2. Laurie...We're in Tucson right now until next Wednesday, the 8th. Maybe we could try to meet up here since Q didn't work out? We're are you planning on staying? How long do you think you'll be here?

    I want to go to Panama now! It sounds lovely...minus the humidity and bugs. I'm glad you and your friends had a wonderful time.

  3. We do enjoy your blog. We are planning to go to the northwest next year and your info about the area is great. Safe Travels
    Bob & Linda

  4. Re bugs---we did a 3-month RV trip last summer, much of it through the South. The bugs got serious in Mississippi, and I bought a natural, eucalyptus-based spray for "Mississippi gnats." It didn't work. We tried a variety of sprays, and unfortunately those with DEET worked the best. I've been following your blog for quite some time---and I really like your park reviews. Skidaway Island outside Savannah is a special gem. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  5. OK... you ate a lot of pulpo? How in the world was the octupus fixed? The photo didn't look too appetizing!

  6. Great wrap-up! You are certainly an adventurous eater.