Sight-Seeing in Panama


Deborah sounded the most interesting – my sailing reference

Richard, who selected me to be the line handler in December 2012, making it possible for me to transit the Panama Canal, published this about me: I put a post on CS to look for extra crew for our Panama Canal transit. Of the people who responded I thought Deborah sounded the most interesting so she joined us for the day. I must have made the right choice because she proved to be very good company and an asset to our crew.


Hermit Crabs are fun

Visit the islands around Isla Boca Brava and Isla Coiba and you are greeted by a sight that’s quite a lot of fun. These beaches are literally crawling with shells of varied colors, shapes and sizes scooting around! Actually, the shells are being scooted around, not scooting by themselves. These shells are host to Hermit Crabs. What makes these tiny creatures so much fun is that rather than grow their own hard shells, they find, borrow, and live in other animals’ abandoned shells. When they out-grow one shell, they move out and borrow another. It’s great fun to watch these many, many tiny creatures digging holes, crawling in or out, or running around at a rather furious pace. Then when one of them feels the vibrations as you walk, or even feels a camera moving in close to it, it quickly folds into the shell so it appears to be […]


Soloy – a true indigenous Panamanian village

I was very lucky the day I met Susan, a Peace Corps volunteer who is working in a tiny indigenous Panamanian village. I wasn’t able to visit Susan’s village as she was away for a break, but I was able to visit the fabulous Juan Carlos and his friend Elmon in their own village, Soloy. I plan to write more about this visit and the opportunities for others to visit and learn about indigenous Panamanian, but here are a few photos for now. Getting to Soloy, Panama

Dining with Elmon's family in Soloy, Panama

My bed on Isla Boca Brava

This is the view I get to enjoy from my bed hammock at Hotel Boca Brava. I so-loved sleeping in a hammock at my friend Daniel’s that when I got here and saw this hammock setup I just had to try it. Yes, that is water you see — the warm Pacific Ocean — and yes. Those are islands you see out in the water. Both sides of this room have water views.


Bull-riding & fighting in Boca Chica

This weekend, there was a festival day in the tiny town of Boca Chica, Panama. I joined three others from my hotel, taking a passing water taxi from our Isla Boca Brava location to this nearest mainland town. ($3 from our hotel, $1 from the point we first walked to.) After a typical Panama lunch of rice mixed with beans and a small piece of chicken for $3, we took a very hot 20 minute walk up the road. As the day was so hot, this activity was postponed for an hour or so. We walked back down, picked up some cookies and drinks at the town’s market (tienda), played a handmade carnival game, then walked back to the corral. Here is a photo summary of the sport.


Walking, movie & my radio show

At 11am today, just as the heat of the day was building, my friend Gary Smith and I went walking. We walked the entire Cinta Costera, stopped at the Seafood Market for cold drinks, then continued through the streets and scenic views of Casca Viejo and San Filipe. As the sun went down we thought we would take a Metrobus but we just walked instead. It was easier to walk as the sun went down. We stopped for shaved ice along the way. Gary’s first. As we walked home, we decided to go see a movie. We did something I have never done before. We walked up to the ticket counter and asked what the next film was that was playing in English. It was 7pm and The Impossible was on at 7:30, so that’s what we saw. At $9 or so in LA, I would likely not choose to […]


Travel between Panama and Colombia

I share this because every backpacker that has time, has the interest to travel between Panama and Colombia. I have not made this trip and will not be doing so, but I watched a lot of travelers research and book passage. The flights are around $500 as are the commercial sailing boats. The sailing experience be excellent or, like some travellers tell me, your captain can fail to being enough food and water or can be high or drunk on the voyage. Every hostel in Panama City, and Captain Jack’s in Portobelo (and maybe hostels in Bocas del Toro) can provide information about several of the approximately 30 boats that now make this trip. Jeff at Captian Jack’s is a sailor and told me that several years ago there were only 10. This voyage is a popular thing for people with boats to do in order to make money. Jeff […]


Congo Carnival in Portobelo, Panama

I happen to be in Portobelo, Panama during the Congo Festival. In the early afternoon four men dressed up for this traditional celebration came up to Captain Jack’s, whistles blowing, acting in the traditional goofiness. Their faces were painted the blackest black, making their lips ever-so-pink and they were always sticking their tongues out. That is part of the celebration, which is to mock the Spanish, their former enslavers. (In the days of the Spaniards here, people were brought from the Congo as slaves.) Later in the day, Gary and I were walking in town and watched as the men surrounded a car in the road and one man stepped in front of the car and laid in the road with his feet up on the hood of the car. Still later, we were walking home from seeing the Negro Christo (Black Jesus statue) when the guys noticed me and […]


Portobelo, Panama – exploring a fort

This fort is the closest one to the town. It’s the easiest one to visit as no boat is needed. However, the other one is the first line of defense and is three levels and more interesting. (You can get to the other one by renting a kayak and enjoying the harbor as well. It is difficult to see here but that long wall is where the cannons are. They are clearer in the next photo.


A Gal & El Canal III

I’m a gal impressed with El Canal The first time I visited the Panamá Canal I was a tourist visitor at the museum. The second time I visited the Panamá Canal it was as a customer making a transit. The third time I visited the Panamá Canal it was from the perspective of a Canal Authority Tugboat Captain. The ships that transit the Panamá Canal are quite large. Under their own power, their own mechanics are well able to steer the ships. However, they must travel an extremely show speed within the Locks of the canal, as well as through the Gaillard* Cut. At these slow speeds, their rudders aren’t effective. They must rely on tugs and “mules” to steer them. The job of the Tugboat Captian is tricky. It requires precision to be able to match the speed of a ship, to come up right against it, and to […]


Trump Panama

Unable to sleep for the first time since coming to live in a friend’s home in Punta Patilla, I just looked out my bedroom window. It is 3am. Rising out of the darkness comprised of private homes and now empty office buildings, is just one building — its elevators and halls alit. How interesting, how telling it is that by night Trump Panama looks like a Cobra poised to strike. And that I didn’t notice in the light of day – from any angle.