Last year I visited Panama for the first time. I had traveled to countries in the neighborhood before. Always looking for the ideal place to start my business. Panama was very appealing seeing its rise in tourism, the lay back easy-going nature off the people there, the warm climate. The things that so attracted me to this country mainly being: their waves, their nature, their coffee,…
The fact that they have an easy resident visa for Belgians surely also played a part in the decision for Panama as my next travel/research destination.
My friend Oliver and I made a trip to see a large part of the country in August 2016, we visited a lot of places: Panama City, Santa fé, Santa Catalina, Boquète, Bocas del Toro and El Vale De Anton. This whole journey was crammed into 2 weeks and fair to say that it was a life-changing adventure. We got to enjoy the country, its inhabitants and the other people visiting it, it was tremendous!
Panama City was the first stop on our journey, which is pure logics since that is where you arrive. We took a few days to see the beautiful Casco Viejo and climb up the Cerro Ancon to see the canal zone and the city skyline. The city is a bit too busy for me, I am more of a village person, so we passed trough pretty quickly.
Next up was Santa Fé; a quiet little mountain town, abundant in fauna and flora and known as one of the coffee producing regions. We already encountered some of the fauna driving up to the town. When Oliver made me quickly stop the car and get out only to discover a tarantula in the bushes next to the road. In Santa Fé we came to rest; relaxing near the river, going for a run in the mountains, taking other travelers along as we went for a local tubing tour on the river.We also met one of the greatest dogs named Goncho this former street dog is quite the character. I really enjoyed myself there, pity we had to get going for our next destination.
Time for some surfing as we passed by Santa Catalina. Off course we had to take advantage of the opportunity and do some surfing on our travels in Panama. Oliver also went diving when he visited Isla Coiba. Me I can’t dive so I went for a swim that day to the island just in front of the town. We were amazed at how hot it was in town, here you really feel what a tropical climate should be.
The trip moved into its second week as we moved in to Boquète. I was specifically looking forward to this part of the journey. Boquète is one of the best known coffee regions in the world. It is the place in Panama where they grow the world renounced Geisha variety. We were able to do a coffee tour and I was able to buy some green natural Geisha coffee. Already anxious about roasting it at home. The second night we were in Boquète I also hiked up the Volcan Baru, 4 hours of heavy hiking in the middle of the night. When I arrived in the morning clouds rolled in and I did not see the majestic vieuws this volcano has to offer, I will certainly do this hike again once, that mountain still owes me.
I was super tired when I got back to the hostel after hiking the Volcan Baru, so it was Oliver who drove us to our next destination; Bocas del Toro. This island group is already more touristic, however not too busy. In Bocas del Toro we were again able to catch a wave and also a glimpse of the famous poisonous red frog. We stayed here as long as we still could, for this was the furthest our travels would take us, from this part on everything we would do would be on the way back home.
The way back brought us past El Vale De Anton. We looked for a hostel we had heard about from a girl in Santa Fé, supposedly there would be sloths in this hostel! There were a lot of people visiting El Vale the weekend we passed trough as a marathon was being held on Sunday. When we found the hostel “Casa Mariposa”, we were in luck as they just had a cancellation and we could get their room. The sloths were amazing, so was the butterfly sanctuary. Such a shame we had to get back home.
During my travels I kept a travel diary in which it became more and more clear that I was ready to move to a country like this, I just had to find out if it could be Panama. Back home the research began….