Posted on January 25, 2014
Everybody who knows me knows that I love traveling. After a great South American adventure, I couldn’t stop thinking about traveling again. I returned back to Europe in June 2013, travelled a bit in my country – Slovakia and returned back to Copenhagen to work. I was very lucky to return back to Sennheiser and work on a temporary contract. It was tempting to stay longer in my lovely Copenhagen, but I decided to follow my “American” dream and hit the road again. The plan is to get to Alaska – one day. But this can be in years from now. This time I’m going to discover Central America. Read more about the decision I made: Decision taken – Hola Central America!
How does it feel like to be backpacking after a 7-months “backpacking brake”? As with everything I do, I need to get used to it. That’s why I decided to have a calm start in Panama. I had a contact to Ricky – a local guy from Panama city. He was kind to host me for 2 days and he was a great ambassador of Panama. Also, he inspired me to write a book about my adventures, because he is journalist and he wrote a very nice book about his African journey. This is going to be one of my 2014 challenges – put my stories and travel tips into a book.
Panama city surprised me. It is relatively small and safe for a Latin American capital. Of course I’m not talking about the “red districts” that can be found everywhere and should be avoided. In general, I really appreciated walking in the evening or night on the “Cinta costera” – Coast line – without feeling stressed. It felt safe and there was lot of police. Cinta costera is a path that goes by the coast from the old town “Casco viejo” to the rich quarter with stunning skyscrapers “Punta Pacifica”. Panama city is a city of bankers and it seems like they like to jog. There were so many people jogging, biking or skating that I felt like this could be a city where I could live one day. Otherwise, there was not that much to see for more than 2 days. Casco Viejo, fish market and a typical tour to Panama canal are the activities that everyone does. Panama city is also very shopping friendly and lot of nice restaurants can be found here. I’m not surprised that it’s a paradise for retired American people ☺
After chilling for 2 days, I moved from the Pacific side to the Caribbean side, my destination was Morgan Bay hotel and hostel. On couchsurfing.org I discovered that there is actually a guy from Bratislava, Slovakia who is running a hostel in Nuevo Chagres. His name is Daniel and he has been here for more than a year. This was an off-the-beaten track trip and I was very curious to do something different than the majority of the backpackers do. Getting there was scary though. I had to change the bus in Colon – the most dangerous city in Panama. The taxi driver that brought me to the Panama city bus station told me so many scary stories that I didn’t feel that well going there. Apparently the city center of Colon is known for lot of crime and is also very poor. And that’s exactly how it looked like, I had no intention to do any photos at the bus station. Some situations are just not worth it to use my camera and do “stressed” pictures. But I have to say that there were two old men who spotted me and helped me to find the connection “chiva” bus to Costa Abajo. The bus was so crowded that a fellow passenger almost sat on my legs. People are not used to see many tourists here, so lot of passengers paid attention to me which made me even more insecure. But – BASTA! It was just in my head. Everything was fine, the bus driver played some popular salsa tunes and the 1h20min bus ride was a funny adventure. When I got off, the whole bus was waving to say goodbye. I regret that I didn’t take any photos.
Finally, I got in the Morgan Bay hotel and hostel and I was welcomed by Daniel and a guy from Czech republic. Apparently there are many business opportunities in Panama and I was told that 1million of foreigners live in Panama, which is for a 3million population of Panamanians a huge number. I spent 3 very relaxing days on a private beach of this hostel, barbequing, dancing and talking to the other guests. Until it got to the point that I should be really traveling and not “just” chilling on the beach.
My next step was San Blas archipielago that was supposed to be the “crème de la crème” in Panama. I returned back to the city, spent a night in a very friendly hostel run by two brothers from Venezuela – Villa Vento Surf. They have their own swimming pool so check it out and stay tuned for my San Blas adventure, aka “Coco Loco” ☺