Arriving into Panama City was an assault on the eyes, ears, and nose! It is a vibrant, energetic and colorful city - clean, dirty, modern, old, safe and scary. Thanks to a great tip from a fellow cruiser we stayed at Hotel Casa Miller, run by a crazy Greek (his words which became ours) who had more stories and anecdotes to tell than time allowed. The hotel was in an older section of town which we totally enjoyed. We were within walking distance of the famous Fish Market, and Casco Antiguo, an area undergoing significant renovation.
|Traffic jam in Casco Antiguo|
|Mira Flores Locks|
|Rafted sailboats going through the lock|
|More rafted sailboats going through locks|
|Launch for boats heading out to the San Blas Islands|
|Canal leading out to the San Blas Islands|
I think if you were to conjure up an island paradise, this would have been it. Clean white sand beaches, thatched roof bamboo cabins, clear blue waters, lovely Guna Yala family to make sure you were comfortable, and two small "stores" where women were hand stitching molas and had a few displayed for sale. We had nothing but time: to swim, read, relax, and visit with the other visitors who were primarily from France, Germany and Canada. Jim and I were the only Americans.
|The view from the back of the hut|
|The lounge and dining area|
|Chak checking out the baby turtle|
|Trying a "coco loco" a dreadful combination|
of coconut water and rum
It was quite primitive, the bathrooms were in an outdoor building and although they had flush toilets, they only flushed when the large tanks on top of the shower building next door had been filled. When the tanks ran empty, the toilets didn't flush. Showers were cold.
Meals were sufficient and primarily fish and rice with an occasional choice of chicken. We got pretty good at getting the bones out of the fish.
|Our typical lunch and dinner|
Famlies take turns running Niadub and income is shared among them. School aged children go away to another island to attend school. It is where their families live when not dealing with the tourists at Niadub. Altho I had always known them as the Kuna Indians, their preferred name is Guna Yala.
|You cannot beat the sunsets|
|Farewell pose of the three enthusiastic travelers|
|View of Boquete from our balcony|
|One part of the steep path to town|
We were not disappointed. Our hotel was up in the hills which while beautiful was too far to walk to town (except for a treacherous steep path which we tried once).
We booked a private coffee plantation tour to La Finca Milagrosa (the Miracle Farm). It is a small almost organic farm (5 hectares) and has won many awards world wide for its coffee quality. Keep your eyes open for their brand "Cafe Royal".
|La Finca Milagrosa sign|
|A coffee tree with just a few red beans left on it|
|Beans drying naturally outside, but under cover|
|Three level of roasts from the homemade roaster|
|Waiting for the bus office to open in David|
We are now trying to get the boat ready for the summer hiatus and mentally processing all of the varied experiences and adventures we had this winter season!