A bit of rest was more than welcome after almost 3 months of travelling through South America. We made it in one piece to Panama City, despite a 5 hours delay in Miami caused by a tropical storm and a rather shaky flight through the thunders, but we finally arrived in the humid warmth of Panama at 3AM on the 13th of July.
We were hosted by Berangère and Nico during our stay. Berangère and I met 11 years ago while travelling in Australia and lived quite the adventure together for a few months. That’s one of the things I love about travelling: you meet people. Sometimes just short encounters with people you might never cross path with again, and sometimes you make long-lasting friends.
Berangère and Nico lived in Panama for 4 years now with their twins. We managed to meet up with them for a few days in Costa Rica 2 years ago while on holiday. So when we told them we would be travelling around the world for a year and spend some time in South America, it was only normal to make a stop in Panama to visit them!
They have been amazing hosts to us and it was great to live and share their daily life in Panama for two weeks, a chill life one could get used to easily.
Our surprise though was to realise that Panama is not a cheap destination… We didn’t do much of exploring the country as we wanted to relax, take a break from all the moving around. So we stayed in the city for most of our stay with a few day trip excursions here and there. We did have a look at the price to visit the San Blas islands and Bocas del Torro out of curiosity but only to discover that it was quite more expensive than we had imagined. Prices have increased a lot in the last few years they explained.
Panama City is intriguing: a modern skyscraper skyline city by the sea, with one building taller than the another, and is very fast growing. The old town, Casco Viejo, remains more traditional with many beautiful colonial colourful buildings. But the huge gap in lifestyle between the Expat world, which is almost half of the city’s population, and the locals is striking. The city centre is full of luxury boutiques and shopping malls that mainly Expats can afford. It is very safe, with the police and military on every street corner. But on the other hand are districts made of old buildings where most of the local population lives in and where a “white” should not even consider setting foot in. For that it that it was very interesting to stay with our friends who lived there a while to understand the city’s evolution and disparities and how they are lived on a daily basis.
We did take a short trip to visit the Canal that made the city what it is really today, quite impressive human engineering! A trip to Portobelo’s ancient fort, and 2 days beach trip North Ouest of Panama City.
It’s been great to relax for 2 weeks, settle for a bit without having to pack and unpack every 3 days. A much-needed rest and smooth acclimatization to the tropical warmth and humidity of Central America.
Oh, and we thought we spoke and understood good Spanish to have no struggle understanding the different Latin America accents. Well, Pamana has been our first real struggle! It almost felt like they spoke a different language from their pronunciation… or should I say lack of pronounciation!
We left on the 28th of July with Cancùn for destination.
Thanks again so much to Berangère and Nico for welcoming us and hosting us so well! See you soon again!