Wanderlust Wednesday – Where I’ve Been

wanderlust wednesday
wanderlust wednesday

I began my second solo backpacking trip 18 days ago, and it already feels like this is the only life I’ve ever led – the Nomad Life!
 
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Where I’ve Been

Panama City (5 nights)

David, Panama (1 night)

Boquete, Panama (8 nights)

Bocas del Toro, Panama (3 nights)

I arrived to Panama City with no expectations, and I left with a bunch of newΒ travel buddies!
 
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I spent a strange night in David, after a long bus ride, in between Panama City and Boquete.
 
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I hung out in Boquete, not doing too much, enjoying the mountain air. I also started taking Spanish lessons with Habla Ya!
 
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And now I’m in Bocas del Toro taking more Spanish lessons and getting my beach fix! (Okay, so I haven’t actually been to the beach yet, but still..)

What I’ve Loved

  • The act of exploring a new city. Finding it’s hidden gems, and just wandering around.
  • My first hostel, Villa Vento Surf, had a pool. Need I say more?
  • Walking on the Cinta Costera in Panama City, and watching people live their lives.
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  • The hostel/hotel I moved to, The Magnolia Inn, was designed beautifully and right in the center of the old town.
  • I’m a sucker for colonial architecture, and Casco Viejo did not disappoint.
  • The fact that, no matter where I was staying or who I was with, we always invariably ended up back at the fish wharf and the Cinta Costera.
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  • Meeting three really cool people at The Magnolia Inn. We decided to go to the Panama Canal together to make it cheaper, and we ended up becoming friends. I even traveled with one of them up here to Boquete!
  • When we went to go get a taxi to take us to the Panama Canal, we never could have known what a fateful decision that would be. Our taxi driver was…well, let’s just say he was the best taxi driver I’ve ever had.
  • One of the best meals I had in Panama City was at…a Thai restaurant!
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  • Riding the bus with the locals from Panama City to David. Okay, this wasn’t all love, but I sat next to the nicest woman on the bus. She didn’t care that I couldn’t speak any Spanish, she just kept trying to communicate with me the whole time. I learned a lot about her, even despite the language barrier.
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  • Even though there was a baby in my hostel dorm room in David (more on that below..) I talked to his mother the next day, and it turns out they’re from Ljubljana, Slovenia. A place I have a great interest in visiting. We’re now friends on Facebook with the promise that when I do visit she will show me around! I love hostels for that reason.
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  • The fresh mountain air in Boquete. I left the city (NYC and Panama City, both) partially because the air in cities gets to be stifling for me after a bit. They say the weather in Boquete is “Constant Spring.” Needless to say, it’s my perfect weather.
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  • Going on a coffee tour in Boquete. I had already been on one in Puerto Rico, but you can never know too much about coffee!
  • We had a stalker during our coffee tour, a white goat named Blancecita.
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  • I saw my first rainbow at the coffee farm! A trend that has continued almost every day since.
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  • If Boquete isn’t named the land of rainbows, I have no idea why. I actually walked to where the rainbow started one day. I wonder why it’s so much more common to see a full rainbow here than in other parts of the world? If anyone knows, tell me in the comments!
  • Doing literally nothing in Boquete. Except writing, eating free pancakes, and wandering around town. If you’re going to do nothing, this is the place to do it.
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  • Finally learning more Spanish than “Hola, Buenos Dias!” during my three days of private lessons in Boquete with Habla Ya.
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  • Going on a SECOND coffee tour in Boquete, this time arranged by Habla Ya. Have I mentioned that I really like coffee?
  • Going ziplining for the third time in Boquete, also arranged by Habla Ya! Something about flying through the mountains never gets old!
  • Arriving in Bocas del Toro and immediately making friends! Sometimes it can be hard for me to assert myself and make friends (something that travel definitely has helped with) but things worked out very easily this time!
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What I’ve Learned

  • Never. Fly. Spirit. Airlines.
  • Free pancakes don’t always mean GOOD pancakes. I’m looking at you, Villa Vento Surf.
  • People and experiences come into your life when you’re ready. No use forcing the matter.
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  • In order to travel sanely, I need to let go of my attachment to outcome. Meaning, whatever happens is perfect, and I don’t have to control anything.
  • The Panama Canal, though an engineering marvel, was way too touristy for me. There’s little I hate more while traveling than hoards of tourists crowding around somewhere, paying far too much money, and just trying to snap a photo without actually being in the experience. I know that many people will disagree with me, but I just wasn’t impressed.
  • As much as I love the amenities of living in a big city, city life is far too overwhelming for me at this point in my life. I need a nice long break!
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  • I really need to have more than a basic understanding of Spanish to get around in Central America. I can survive, for sure, with hand gestures, but my experience would be so much more enriching if I could really converse with the local Panamanians. Good thing I’ve started Spanish lessons to improve!
  • Just because you stay in a hostel doesn’t mean you won’t sleep in the same room as a baby! It was quite funny to see not one but TWO babies at my hostel in David! I didn’t really mind, but it was a new experience for me!
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  • Sometimes, even in the second week of your trip, you need to take a break. Or rather, when you plan on traveling long term, you don’t need to rush from one location to another and do every single thing in each location. I spent most of my time in Boquete simply working in the backyard of my hostel.
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  • Bed Bugs suck. Yes, I have come down with one of the most dreaded aspects of travel, bed bugs. Itchy welts all over my body? Check. Washing every single item in my backpacks? Check. Hostels denying the existence of bed bugs in their establishment despite me showing them said welts? Check. I think I’ve got the situation under control now, but it’s been a painful few days to be sure.
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    Where I’m Going Next

    I’m staying in Bocas del Toro, in Bocas Town for the next 3 days taking more Spanish classes with Habla Ya. Then I’m heading out to the quieter island of Bastiementos for a few days to recuperate. Then I’m finishing out my time in Panama with another few days at the design hostel Selina.

 
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Happy Exploring, Wherever You Are!

 

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21 comments

  1. That goat haha! Never thought to go on a coffee tour before! I’m always going on food marathons but purely coffee? That’s a good idea! Were you not wired after though? Looks like you’re having an amazing time nonetheless. Wishing you all the best on your travels <3

    1. Hahaha..right?? That goat and I became BFFs. I really want to go on a food tour or two, but I always find they’re so expensive! It’s probably worth it though considering how much you get to eat! I actually wasn’t wired! The coffee is so smooth that it’s a really great caffeine high πŸ˜‰ hahaha! Thanks, Alice! πŸ™‚ I love reading about your travels as well!

  2. Wow! This travel story and your pics definitely look like an amazing and crazy fairy tale! Please tell us more about your nomadic free backpacking solo life!

    1. Thanks, Sabrina!! πŸ˜€ I will definitely be writing much more about my experiences traveling solo on this page – so keep an eye out! πŸ˜‰

    1. Panama is a bit more expensive than other countries in Central America (though not as expensive as Costa Rica) so I’ve been averaging around $40 per day. That’s staying in hostels, sometimes cooking my own meals, and occasionally getting reimbursed in exchange for writing about my experience! It definitely could be done for a lot less (I’ve met people here really sticking to a tight budget, I just enjoy eating out way to much for that to be feasible for me!) and for a lot more! I’m planning to write a more in depth post about what everything costs in Panama once I leave!

  3. I like the style of this. It was written in an informative yet interesting way. Panama would be alot of fun, so I can’t wait to go! Great pics too!

  4. Love this! Sounds like you are on quite the adventure, and you certainly have the right attitude as you experience all aspects of your journey and where it takes you. I’ll be making my way to South America within the next few years and I look forward to the coffee tours when I get there! πŸ™‚

  5. Great Read! I am thinking about Backpacking next year, don’t know if I want to do Africa or South America!

    1. Oh man, that’s a really hard choice!! I’ve never done either, but everyone I’m meeting here waxes poetic about South America! I almost changed my plans and sailed down to Columbia!

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