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From Skyscrapers to Island Paradise

Panama City/ San Blas

sunny 28 °C

I arrived in Panama, not without making a friend at the airport. Chris and I chatted our way through the mundane routines that have become a regular part of my life, customs, baggage claim. We shared a taxi to the city and parted ways with plans to meet up that night. I made my way to my hotel where I met up with Audrey, my latest travel partner. Audrey had contacted me through aSW since we were both traveling S America alone. We met once in NYC before I left to see if we would be compatible travel companions. When I decided to leave BsAs earlier I piggybacked on her trip.
Panama city was not as exciting as we had heard..but maybe that is because we were there on an Monday and Tuesday. We explored Casco Viejo, the old city with its crumbling buildings it has some old world charm but also doesn't feel very safe.
From Casco Viejo you can see the shiny high rises lining the bay making an interesting panorama of old and new.
Nothing much to do in Panama city except to shop and to eat so that's what we did! There is a strip of nice restaurants in a section called the Causeway which way constructed using the rocks cleared when making the canal.

San Blas

We booked a tour to the San Blas islands. We woke up at 4:30 am to await our 5 am pick up. 5:30 came and went and we sat wearily waiting. We called the woman who was supposed to pick us up and she didnt seem to know about us. She sent someone to get us. Lucky to survive, our driver weaved in and out of cars at double the limit. He dropped us off at a supermarket where we were met by glares from young and scruffy backpackers, who appeared to be waiting on us. The confusion continued and we just went along with what they told us, hoping we ended up on an island with somewhere to stay. We crammed into a 4x4 which led us on a bumpy journey. We got out at the river and waited for a boat. At that point they figured out who we were and where we were supposed to go. Audrey and I had our own private boat through the mangroves to our island.
We arrived to our island elated to see crystal clear Caribbean waters. The island was roughly the size of a football field, perfectly placed palm trees, woven hammocks swaying in the breeze. Truly paradise. It felt even more like survivor when alliances were formed. We decided to play water polo with 2 Israeli guys that apparently ruffled feathers before our arrival. Our association with them led to mistreatment from the local Kuna people and some other island guests. We were always last to be served at mealtimes and often had to ask for things several times. Amazing to me that people can be so small minded. Rather than taking the time to get to know us as individuals they formed an opinion of us based solely on the company we kept.

There were around 30 people staying on the island. Mostly camping. We stayed in a hut with nothing but two beds and a sand floor.
We spent the day luxuriating in the tranquility, chairs in the warm sea water,the occasional disturbance from a coconut falling from a nearby tree.

There was no electricity on the island so we had to make our way by the light of the moon. There were no insects so it was the perfect place to lay out under a blanket of stars. I sat for hours outside and contemplated sleeping in my hammock. Orion watching over me, my warrior angel in the night.
We spent 2 ½ days in our island paradise before reluctantly returning to Panama city. We made a quick obligatory tour of the Panama canal before heading to the airport.
San Blas held dearly in our hearts.

Posted by jackiekslp 12:59 Archived in Panama

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