Mi tocaya y yo en Panama

Old Mar 31st, 2014, 01:50 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Mi tocaya y yo en Panama

Who we were: I grew up in Panama and wanted to share that beautiful country with my namesake, mi tocaya. A friend from high school joined us. Mi tocaya is majoring in animal science in preparation for vet school. My friend is an avid birder who has been instrumental in the development of Pipeline Road/ Rainforest Discovery Center and the Biodiversity Museum.

What we did:
Day One: A friend from high school met us at the airport. So did a goodly number of the local television stations. It seems the New York Yankees were arriving at the same time.
My friend took us on a driving tour of the city to help orient mi tocaya. he dropped us off at our hotel and we had a chance to really feel the Panama heat and humidity. We stayed on the Amador Causeway so she would have a chance to watch the ships line up for transit. I had a view of the Bridge of the Americas and Ancon Hill. When I first moved to Panama I lived at Fort Kobbe and took the old Thatcher Ferry to school. The bridge opened in 1962 about the same time as we moved to Quarry Heights on Ancon Hill.

We had a leisurely dinner at Jimmy's. The food was very good and reasonably priced. The conversation was warm and comfortable with our host sharing the story of how his grandparents had emigrated from Germany to Panama to escape the Nazi threat . Mi tocaya was spellbound by his stories and it occurred to me how lucky she was to get such a personal narrative of that important time in history.

Day Two
Another friend from high school picked us up very early. He is retired from the U S Army Corps of Engineers and a long time resident of Panama. What a tour guide! Our first stop was Balboa High School where he gave a succinct but thorough history of the Panama, the Canal and the partnership between the USA. and Panama. He shared the stories of the riots in 1964 ( my senior year at BHS) .
We went to Miraflores Locks to watch the ships transit. Mi tocaya got a first rate understanding of how the Canal operates. We did the museum and the movie as well as a little bit if a " behind the scenes" tour arranged my a friend. We then went to Casco Viejo to walk and enjoy a little shopping and lunch. If you are a shopper the branch of Reprosa and the one of No Me Olivides in Casco Viejo were quite nice. After that we spent an hour at the ruins of Old Panama.
We had a very unremarkable dinner at Panka's on the Causeway. An old friend joined us for dinner so it was a leisurely meal and the pace of the restaurant was a good fit for us.

Advice to other travelers: For touring in the city,hire a driver. The traffic is a nightmare.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Mar 31st, 2014, 02:29 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day Three: We hired a rental car and headed over to Pipeline Road. We did some birding, seeing some gorgeous hummingbirds and keel billed toucans. Of course the howler monkeys decided to show off a bit, too. We stopped in at the Discovery Center's gift shop. Not only do they carry some excellent items; but, I want to support the Discovery center. It is a wonderful asset for Panamanians who want to learn about the unique qualities of their country and a great place for visitors to get a taste of the "wild". We stopped at Summit Gardens to see the Harpy Eagle exhibit. Another must do. After lunch we had a pre arranged tour of the Biodiversity Museum on Amador Causeway. I had toured it during the active construction in 2009. Although it is not quite finished, yet, it is a fascinating project which illustrates Panama's role in the movement of animals between the continents, changing both wind and sea currents and creating the world as it is today. It is a terrific addition to Panama and the pride of the staff is inspiring. An added binus was having a chance to talk to George Angehr, author of Birds of Pamama.

We changed hotels to a bed and breakfast owned by the Canopy Lodge family in Gamboa. Dinner has to be booked in advance and our timetable was just too fluid to do it. I wish we had. The other guests were a Brazilian film crew and we enjoyed what time we had with them...plus they reported dinner was delicious. We went over to the Gamboa Rainforest resort for dinner. The view of the full moon rising over the Chagres coupled with some cold Panamas, not bad! The food was fine, but unremakable.

I put a full review of the b and b on TA. Recommended.

Day Four: We left our b and b very early after a good breakfast. We had only a short five minute ride to Barro Colorado's departure point. Barro Colorado Island is operated by the Smithsonian. Tours must be booked in advance. It is exceptionally well done and highly recommended. http://www.stri.si.edu/english/visit_us/barro_colorado/

When we finished our tour we drove straight to El Valle. We were booked into the Canopy Lodge there. It is a beautiful property. I did a complete review on TA, but to summarize, it is staffed by exceptional guides, the food is terrific and you can sit there all day and see dozens of species of birds. Very highly recommended.

Day Five: We did a guided bird walk with a staff member. His English was excellent snd he was a great spotter. My friend is a friend if Robert Ridgely and has learned some great spotting techniques from him. It was a very productive walk.
We then headed for the beach. We stopped at Camisone's for lunch. Splendid place with exceptional service.
We were staying in Buenaventura. It is a well maintained area and the beach is spectacular. We wanted a couple of rest days and it was perfect. We watched the sun come up and the fishermen at work. We had massages and mi tocaya went horseback riding on a gorgeous Peruvian horse. We had a couple of meals at the JW Marriott. Food is very good and the breakfast buffet is a real deal. Service is spotty.

Day Seven: Time to return to our real lives. We stopped to visit another old friend in Punta Barca. He took us to lunch at a restaurant in Vista Mar. It was a great meal, truly exceptional. As yet the restaurant is unnamed, but the chef, Pascal, says he will get around to it soon. Unforgettable and a gorgeous location.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Mar 31st, 2014, 03:10 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I apologize for the typos.

When we left our friend and drove into Panama City for our last night, we got into the most miserable traffic mess ever! It took us about twice as long as it should and took several years off my life with the close calls.

We stayed at the Hotel Bristol. It was pure luxury and a great last stop. The restaurant on site, Salsipuedes is excellent. I did a review of the stay on TA. I got this hotel for $103 a night on Expedia. Wow. They included our valet parking in the rate. Double wow!

It was a wonderful week. Mi tocaya has decided to apply for a Fulbright to study animal health issues in Panama. She told me she could hardly wait to return. I am so happy to know the magic of Panama is still working.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 1st, 2014, 11:01 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
http://www.alexinwanderland.com/2014/03/25/el-valle/

a nice post about the El Valle property
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:01 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 11,656
Likes: 0
Received 7 Likes on 1 Post
Thanks for your TR. have been thinking about visiting Panama this winter.
yestravel is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:29 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Go, it is a beautiful country.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 11:22 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,020
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoyed your report a lot. Some of the names were familiar based on our cruise. Would love to have actually stayed in Panama. I had forgotten you lived there. Glad you had a great return visit.
Giovanna is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 04:39 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Giovanna. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 06:09 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,257
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loved reading about your trip cmcfong. We love Panama and have enjoyed most of the places you mentioned (Bristol Hotel, El Valle, Gamboa, Canopy Tower, Harpy Eagle exhibit, etc. Must go to Barro Colorado some time . . .

We are really ANXIOUS to see that biodiversity museum!! Lucky you to get a tour! Do you think they will ever actually open?
What's the projected date now? I mean it's been YEARS in the making . . .. . also - thanks for teaching me a new Spanish word - tacoya!
glover is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 04:57 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,678
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sounds like a wonderful trip.
SusanInToronto is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 05:59 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It was a grand trip. Mi tocaya said to me upon taking her first sip of fresh Panamanian limonade " I'll never touch Minute Maid again"!
Glover, I think they anticipate a full opening by late summer. Grumblings were that Ghery is very hard to please. Tours are generally available with a reservation. Although we had to wear hardhats, it is very close to completion. Highly recommended.
Thank you for reading my report.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 9th, 2014, 10:24 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 570
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoyed reading about your return to Panama. So great that you always have something "new" each time you go. I remember your "Me encanta" report which was so helpful to me when I visited shortly after than trip.
hamlet is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2014, 10:32 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hamlet, I appreciate your comments so much!
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:10 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,425
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I enjoyed reading your report! We look forward to going in 3 weeks!
annesherrod is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 05:00 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I look forward to hearing about your visit, Anne.
cmcfong is online now  
Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:37 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wish I could go with you on a trip like this. I would let you handle everything : )
How was your Espanol ? did it all come back to you as you were there ?
Scarlett is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2014, 03:48 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,624
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Si, por supuesto!
cmcfong is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
glover
South America
14
Mar 28th, 2019 05:53 PM
snorkelluvn
Mexico & Central America
12
Nov 7th, 2015 09:18 AM
cmcfong
Mexico & Central America
10
Jan 28th, 2009 03:28 AM
singermom4
Mexico & Central America
34
Jan 13th, 2009 07:10 PM
hopvac
Mexico & Central America
15
Jul 8th, 2008 05:16 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -