Few words about Panama

Panama. Beautiful nature, nice people, good waves, Pacific Ocean on the one side and Caribbean Sea on the other, but...

Well, let's start from the beginning. My first stop was Bocas del Toro. I have a good friend living there who was hosting me (I hope he'll never read it and if he reads he won't be offended). I was staying there for 10 days only because I was enjoying his company, hanging out with his friends and had an opportunity to take my time and think about future (my plan "A" ended in Panama). Actually, before I arrived, I had been thinking about settling down there, renting a place, finding a job, going to Spanish school to learn language. But every day I was spending there dissuaded me about my decision more and more. Not because it was such an awful place, just because it was not what I expected.

First, the weather. It was absolutely shitty when I arrived. It was raining like hell few days after I arrived (and few weeks before). Caribbean weather is very unpredictable.

Second, I got a weird intestinal disease or infection and was sick for few days. After living in South East Asia I was sure that diseases like this would not reach me again as I have extra strong immunity to them, and here we are...

Third, well, it's super touristic place where people come to drink, smoke weed, chill, hook up. Parties everywhere all the time. Not a very bad thing, but just for vacation, not for living. Probably someone's dream is to live like this, but definitely not mine.

Though the waves there are quite good. I wasn't very lucky with the swell, but still.

There are also some amazing beaches on the different islands (Bocas del Toro contains several islands).

And, I have to mention it, everything is expensive there. If Costa Rica is the most expensive country of the region, then Panama is definitely the second and not far behind.

So, after few days of hesitation I've made up my mind to move on.

My next destination was Boquete. Place for hikes. Very expensive hikes. Like 90 USD to climb the volcano. And even if you do hikes by your own, you have to pay for entrances everywhere. Even where there's no actual entrance. Don't get me wrong, it's very nice, quiet and beautiful place, but sometimes some things are very overpriced. Especially when they're made for tourists.

The next place was Santa Catalina on the Pacific coast. Here only positive emotions, BUT before going there you should be prepared and realize clearly that there is not too much civilization there. You have to save water while having shower because it runs out very quickly. Problems with electricity. No wifi at the hostels. And even if they have wifi it's not working most of the time. So, no connection with the rest of the world. And no pharmacies and hospitals. Ocean and waves there are awesome.

After that - Panama City and one day trip from there to San Blas islands and back.

Panama City is a modern city with a very beautiful historical center. Sometimes stinky as all big cities on the coast. Sometimes dangerous - touristic police on the border of touristic area doesn't allow you to go out of it. Definitely worth visiting for a couple of days.

The only reason why I went to San Blas is my local friend who told me that it would be shame if I've been to Panama and haven't seen San Blas. Otherwise I wouldn't even have thought about it. It's pricey. 150 USD one day trip (215 for 2 days, 285 for 3 days and so on). San Blas is an autonomous territory in Panama formally called Kuna Yala, native people are known as the Kuna's. There are more than 300 islands there, most of them have no inhabitants. Beaches there are amazing, good snorkeling around a sunken ship, tours are well organized. I don't regret I went there, but still, I must confess, I've seen more beautiful places in the world which were much cheaper or absolutely free.

After San Blas I went back to Panama City and took the flight to my first country in South America...

SPECTER photography


Inna Nikitina