When I was loosely planning my Latin American adventures, I had a vague idea that I’d end up in Panama. Flights in and out of the capital were cheap, and I’d heard rumors of a chilled-out island scene in Bocas del Toro. Frankly, though, I didn’t know or think much about it — after all, Panama gets none of the buzz that it’s Central American neighbor Costa Rica does. It’s kind of the red-headed step-child of the bunch — when’s the last time you heard someone planning a one-stop vacation to Panama? So I had no way of knowing that this skinny little thing of a country — unlikely little Panama! — would be my favorite destination of the whole trip.
Our route: (1) Panama City, (2) El Valle, (3) Isla de Coiba, (4) Boquete, (5) Bocas del Toro
That’s right — I’m crazy for Panama. My country crush started almost immediately upon landing in Panama City, a Havana-Miami mashup that I could barely tear myself away from. And the love affair continued with our brief but toucan-filled stopover in El Valle onto our off-the-grid getaway to Santa Catalina and Isla de Coiba National Park. There, diving in the shark-infested waters and lazing on the untouched beaches of the reserve, there is where I really felt things kind of got serious. Soon after, I was shouting from the virtual rooftops, “It’s Panama time!” to anyone who would listen. And we hadn’t even joined up with the country’s true backpacker trail yet.
Our next stop, Boquete, is one of Panama’s worst-kept secrets, and as we hiked waterfalls, chased rainbows, rode horses and soaked in hotsprings, I could see why people had a hard time keeping it to themselves. And Bocas del Toro, the destination that stole my heart? Don’t even get me started on that bliss-fest. As we island-hopped away the final days of our 4.5 weeks in Panama, I wondered how I’d manage to sum up such a special country.
Luckily, as usual, Anders made things easy for me. He made a video that still gives me the chills when I watch it (despite the amount of unflattering faces I make throughout, and yes, we’re having a chat about that!). I can’t think of a better way to introduce my Panama coverage to Meihoukai in Wanderland.
Now that you’re primed on my new country crush, get ready for all kinds of gushing Panama City posts coming up this week. I’m willing to bet it won’t be long until you’re crushing as hard as I did.
Kudos to Anders for another great video! Now, which Panama destination are you most looking forward to reading about?
Bonus question! I’m feeling a bit torn right now. On one hand I really love blogging chronologically and I know a lot of you have mentioned how much you enjoy it too. But on the other, now that I’m back in the USA I’m excited to share some of what I’m up to in a more timely manner (read: Mardi Gras!). Would you prefer if I wrote chronologically straight through Panama and then onto Costa Rica and then onto my Stateside adventures, or would you be into it if I shook things up a little bit and interspersed my Central America coverage with some more recent stuff? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!