PANAMA (I hope you’re singing it). Not sure how the Panamanians feel about Van Halen. From our singing it seems they lean towards…tolerant.
Really glad it worked out for us to bop down to Panama. Spent about 10 days there and loved it!
We started in Bocas del Toro, this island chain on the Caribbean side of the country. It was highly recommended by a few friends and I needed to get scuba certified.
I was actually a little nervous about getting scuba certified. Which surprised me. Not so much because of the ocean, but because it’s a lot of equipment and ears popping and things that could go wrong outside of my control. But found this amazing shop (Bocas Diving Pirates) with super knowledgeable and fun instructors, and a solid price. I did my PADI open water certification in 3 days. Joce was already certified so she did some fun dives while I was in class.
Our last night in Bocas we did a night dive. Like scuba dove in the ocean at night. Joce and I got on the boat with Alex, the dive master, and then the captain, and rode out to this black ocean water. It was one of those things where the boat stops and they say “Okay, let’s go”, and I think, “What am I doing????”.
But then I jumped in the black ocean water and had a dang blast. At one point when we were on the bottom we all turned off our flashlights (never thought I would need a flashlight in the ocean) and this bio luminescence plankton is now visible. Moving our arms around it looked like a light show. Halfway through our dive I was actually bummed we didn’t get to see any sharks. BUT we saw an enormous hermit crab and a bright blue octopus hunting through the coral. The octopus would expand it’s body to cover the rock/coral and smoke out any creature hiding in it.
After Bocas del Toro we traveled south to the Lost and Found Hostel in the Valle de Hornito.
It’s a 15 minute trail walk to even get to the hostel. We had our backpacking backpacks and a shared suitcase. We paid a local fruit stand owner to keep our suitcase in his shop for the next 4 days. The $3 was definitely worth it. Traveling around more made us realize we gotta get rid of some more stuff! Since Joce went home for Christmas we have shed another suitcase and now just have our backpacks. Much better.
We hike up to this hostel and the views are amazing. And it’s very strange for us to discover it’s cold? Up in the jungle the temps really dropped. Being at the Lost and Found Hostel felt like summer camp. Stayed in a dorm, walked to the bathroom up the hill to brush my teeth, hung out in the lounge room and laid in hammocks. The hostel is located in a unique place because there’s so much to do around it.
We spent a day down in the town of Gualaca. They have Los Cangilones de Gualaca which is this channel carved out through rocks. It’s free, full of locals, and was a much needed spot to cool off.
We ended our time in Panama with a organic farm tour from Don Kuna. This hardworking, sweet man showed us around his organic farm which had honey, coffee, fruits, and vegetables.
Jocelyn has been working for years to get me to like coffee…After our trip to Don Kuna’s I’m a little bit closer. Some people put cubes of cheese in their coffee, let it soak, and then eat it?? I don’t even know. But we tried it.
We stayed in hostels in Bocas del Toro and in Hornito. This trip reaffirmed that we are really not hostel people (I know everyone is so surprised). We’re going to stick with our tried and true Airbnb from here on out.
Till next time, Panama. You were pretty cool.