Panama City, Boquete, & Lost an Found Lodge

I actually really liked Panama City. David was a pretty crap place, and super hot and uncomfortable, but Panama City was quite beautiful with a nice breeze. We stayed at Mamallena Hostel, which had air conditioning!, and spent our days wandering the city and our nights at Carnaval.

Carnaval was fun, but nothing crazy. Lots of cops all over the city and pretty intense security to get in (I needed my passport). Once inside beers were $1, streetfood was plentiful (and not vegan), and the stages were INCREDIBLY loud. The last night we managed to catch the parade floats and dance to electronic music with a bunch of drunk gay Panamanians. I also got in a fight with a black man in traditional African garb and kicked him into a Porta-Potty. I also also got into a yelling match with a Panamanian taxi driver, who ended up blowing me a kiss. But that was the day before.

From Panama City we went north to Boquete, which I really loved. It’s a small mountain city with cool air and green mountains all around. All the local houses had well-maintained gardens, even the smallest, poorest homes.

Our hostel, Nomba Hostel, had very obviously moved locations recently, and was pretty half-assed in most respects. But it was close to hiking trails, and they arranged a rock climbing trip for us (I am really out of shape). If I had to move to Panama, Boquete is definitely the city I’d choose.

We’re now at Lost And Found Lodge, between David and Bocas del Toro. It’s isolated in the cloud forest (a 15 minute serious hike from the nearest road, and 30-40min by car from the nearest town). They have a honey bear they rescued that we can pet at night, a monkey that comes by around dinner for bananas, and incredible views. Yesterday we went on a tour to petroglyphs and hot springs, and today we did the L&F treasure hunt, which we successfully completed in about 5 hours (with a swimming break). Apparently we get prizes later tonight.

 

Santa Teresa, Quepos, Dominical, & David

From Montezuma we traveled up the Nicoya Peninsula to Santa Teresa, a SUPER surf town along a long strip of road. There’s nothing to do there except surf, though the waves were fun for body boarding. Amanda loved the town, but I don’t surf and I’m not a fan of surf culture, and it was expensive, so I didn’t care too much for it. Our hostel allowed use of the amazing professional kitchen from their former restaurant though, which was really great.

Oh, and I did yoga. It was as uncomfortable as I remember it being.

After Santa Teresa we took the ferry back across the water and ventured on to Quepos, whose claim to fame is the Manuel Antonio National Park. It was very impressive, with lots of wildlife. It was also very crowded with middle-aged and retiree tourists, decked out in the brand new safari clothing they bought for their one week ‘adventure’ trips through Costa Rica.

From Quepos it was off to Dominical for just a night, which was too bad because all three of us liked it a lot. Similar to Santa Teresa, it had less of the money and macho surf vibe while adding a small-town feel, a great bookstore, and less expensive food. And the hostel we stayed in, Cool Vibes, was a really cool open air, beachfront, thatch-roofed building.

After hurriedly packing at 4:30am in the dark, we crossed the border into Panama (which required a printout of my bank statement and a spoofed return-ticket) for a stopover in David, Panama. It is incredibly, incredibly hot here, and the Latino machismo culture has made walking around with the girls a really frustrating experience. (Sidenote: Fuck ‘hollering’ at women on the street, and fuck people who do it. (Apologies for the language, but I have no tolerance for this.)) And the vegetarian restaurant in town has recently closed. But Our hostel has a pool though, and a really sweet dorm, and I’m doing laundry (in a laundry machine!) as I write this, so it’s not all bad.

My leg cuts are looking perhaps a bit infected, but I’m hoping to avoid a visit to the hospital like 2011’s Bangkok Toe Jam experience. I’ll keep you posted.

Tomorrow we head to Panama City for a few days of Carnaval celebrations, which should be quite a crazy experience. We were lucky to be able to find dorm space in the city!