Posts Tagged With: Panama city

Farewell Santa Catalina, I’ve been adopted!

My final days at Cabanas Time Out leave me feeling sad to depart from my new friends but eager to explore other parts of Panama. I get asked often of “how” I decide where to go next or just how far do I plan ahead. My response varies quite a bit depending on the situation. With major flights or extended volunteer programs, I plan ahead. With small city transfers or hostel hopping, I usually find myself making the decision on the way to the bus stop. This week, I got a call during my stay in Santa Catalina. I repeat… I got a phone call! Imagine the look on my face when the reception says, “It’s for you”!

On the other end of the line was a kind woman with a gentle voice that said something to the affect of, “You don’t know me, but my good friend Debbie knows your mother in Florida and we heard that you were injured from a fall”. (This is true and not my brightest moment). “We live in Panama City and are here for you if you need anything like a place to recover or a ride to the airport”… Well hello there unexpected sweet angel!

This my friends, is how the next “plan” was made. I cut my time short in Santa Catalina and found out my new friends from the hotel were also heading to the city. So, off we go together as I get excited to meet my new Panamanian family!

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Upon arrival I was welcomed by a family that made me feel like I was the long lost sister, or some sort of guest celebrity. A neat feeling compared to the usual “one more backpacker” greeting that comes complimentary with each hostel. I don’t have a photo of the entire family so I snuck this adorable holiday picture to give you a visual of my hero’s.

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With time for some arts and crafts and a warm dinner, the girls and I connect before
I settle in to get a luxurious night sleep on a bed… with two pillows…. in an air-conditioned room… and no bugs!

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The morning brings school for the girls and who leaves for class without braids if Erika is around?
Can you tell by their facial expressions just how excited they are to be up at 6am on the last day before holiday break? Oh memories of dreadful alarm clocks.

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As the lovely ladies are off in school, I get the pleasure of joining Lia (mom) to the fresh local market. My favorite!

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The rules for this maze of fresh fruit and veggies:
#1. Pay $0.25 to enter.
#2. Enter at your own risk.

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What stood out to me about this street market is that it’s a drive, park and pay. You literally drive around (in any direction) and when you see something you want, you park (anywhere you want) pick and pay for your goods, then get back into your car and keep going.

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Driving around the city brings us to a few fun sights. This is a huge building that serves several sweet dishes and treats from milkshakes to layered cakes.

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Crossing the American Bridge with a great view for the canal too!

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Handstand shot at the Panama Canal!

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These funky wheels are everywhere!

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In order for me to blog, I had to find wifi and Lia knew just where to drop me off. Here is my view as I type away.

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As a “Thank you” I brought her family one of their favorite goodies from the cafe. It was a croissant styled crust stuffed with warm cream cheese and slightly sprinkled with crystalized sugar. The tea was for me and I love the yogi quote too!

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Returning home I find the girls with an abundance of energy and creative enthusiasm that stretches way beyond a few coloring books!

It starts with a little dress up…

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Sweet little Allison doesn’t know what to think of this beautiful disaster!

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Next comes the make-up…wait, what’s the blindfold for?!

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She liked to zoom in… A lot.

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Some final photos before bedtime. I love my life.

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Streets of Panama City to the beaches of Santa Catalina

I arrived safely to my new destination of Panama, a central American country located inbetween Costa Rica and Columbia. I have a day to play here before I catch a bus to my volunteering project that lies out of the city.

The budget hotel I’m staying at is nothing to boast of except it offers a free breakfast and complimentary ride from the airport. These two things eliminate a bit of stress, especially when first arriving to a new place.

After being served my complimentary breakfast of black coffee and dry toast (the usual around here) I decided to take my hunger on the road in search of fresh fruit or some other traditional eats that I could experiment with. After asking several people where I should go, the response was similar “Nada aquí” (nothing here) so I just decided to stroll in one direction to see what I could find.

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Clearly this neighborhood isn’t on the “must see” list of Panama city, but it’s where my feet where leading with fingers crossed there would be food around. Just a few blocks up the way, I see a glimpse of what could be breakfast!

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I decided on a plain yogurt from the mini market and this little baggie of fruit that I haven’t seen since Malaysia! Before I could stop them, they through the salt in the bag as the locals like it (not my favorite) and handed it over.

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The one thing that stood out to me about Panama city was the clear division between modern higher quality shopping and street side discount vendors.

After my morning snack, I headed in a different direction to see what was near the water. Less than a few blocks later, this is my new view.

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Perfect spot for the handstand shot!

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After the friendly woman snapped the handstand photo for me, I asked her with my broken spanish where I could go for local shopping. With enthusiasm she pointed me towards the bike path with directions to follow.

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Upon arrival, I realize that “shopping” was probably the wrong term to use, as what she was so excited about was the cities Grand Mall. Equipped with everything from Tommy Hilfiger to a McDonalds, you can imagine the amount of time that I didn’t spend here.
As if the mall doesn’t take enough cash from your wallet already, this place even has a casino inside.

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Back to the hotel for a nights rest as tomorrow brings a trip from Panama City to Santa Catalina with two buses, 7 hours and a sweaty ride.

Morning shines and now I’m off! Can you spot my adorable little blue buddy? This isn’t the first time my backpack has gotten to ride roof top!

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Pit stop in Soná leads me looking for a snack at the only store in town.

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Here’s what I found for the remaining of the trip, simply scrumptious.

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I took a picture of the only toilet offered here, but honestly the angle exposes probably more than you want to see. Well it’s in the journey, so just skip the next photos if you have a weak stomach.

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At the end of the layover, I look over to see what appears to be a volcano erupting! Wouldn’t you think so? Judging from the lack of response from the locals, I shrugged my shoulders as I snapped a picture and boarded the final bus. Apparently it’s very common for the Panamanians to burn just about everything they don’t want or need.

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The usual “out of the window” shots from the bus ride.

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Check out this other public bus I spotted along the way. They’re everywhere here! Can you imagine your kids being picked up in this on their first day of school? Priceless.

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I get kicked out of the bus (thankfully) at the bottom of a hill and pointed with the verbal command of “arriba” (up). Ok then, up I go holding fingers crossed that I’ll see some clue that my new home is this way.

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A sign! Cabañas Time Out is the hotel in which I’ll be volunteering at for the next 10 days.

I arrived just in time for this gorgeous sunset hugging the poolside with a ocean view.

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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