Panama gets the short end of the stick. Now it is all about catching the sailboat to Colombia. That said, we did find some great camping in Panama and the country was, happily for us, cheaper than Costa Rica.
Our first stop in Panama was spent in Boquete – a mountainous coffee growing region with a climate of eternal spring. The weather, though a bit breezy at times, was otherwise perfect. Cool for sleeping, sunny in the day with wild flowers and greenery everywhere. Once again we camped with Mick and Chris – this worked out extra nice for us as we went on a drive in the Land Cruiser all over the area. When you don’t have to do the actual driving you can really take in the view and scenery – being a back seat passenger rocks!
We didn’t ride much in Panama but did a couple long-haul days and blasted our way south and east. From the cool of Boquete in the mountains we went to the southern Peninsula de Azuero and Playa Venao. It was dry and hot with a continual wind, but then again, we are here at the end of the dry season so we aren’t seeing the country at its finest. The area where we camped is popular with surfers; it is pretty far off the beaten tourist track but a scenic place to camp.
Then it was off to the big city of Panama City with high-rise buildings and first-world feel. We did some shopping at a massive indoor mall – new jeans for both of us since we now have room on the bikes that used to be for dog stuff. We also took full advantage of the washing machine at the hostel where we stayed; hand washing for the previous months only gets you so far.
It was an odd time to be in Panama City because there was a meeting of Northern, Central, and Southern American Presidents – including a historical handshake between US President Obama and Cuban President Castro. The presidential meeting shut the city down – everything downtown was closed the entire time we were there. No government offices were open as the city took a mandatory four-day holiday and most other shops and restaurants were closed as well. Luckily the mall stayed open!
So long Panama, we need to see other people but I hope we can still be friends. Hello big and beautiful South America, I think I love you!