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Traveling through Panama

There is beauty in everything when you look around.  Changing locations in Panama is sometimes no easy feat but worth the journey I think.  Driving however does eat into your vacation days and seems to present unexpected challenges.  I am not sure there’s a good solution to it all, but it’s something that I will consider in planning the next vacations.

Panama is filled with indigenous people of all sorts.  They live very simply.  Gas stations are few and far between so many of them don’t appear to own cars.  There is an excellent bus system that moves people from city to community so I can only assume that it is their main mode of travel.  We have seen a lot of people walking down the roads, some riding their bikes, and even several on horseback.  There are frequently saddled horses tied up to a tree near a bar/restaurant.  The West is still alive here that’s for sure!  Just down the street from here is a very large equestrian center that is amazing to see.  Although most of the horses we have seen elsewhere are working animals primarily.

As you drive through their country, the roads can be challenging.  The natives seem to drive faster than we were driving, being unfamiliar with the roads. There are many narrow roads and potholes everywhere.  Sometimes there are trees laying across the road although they clear them pretty quickly as they aren’t there when we return a day or two later. Driving is stressful when you are unfamiliar with the road, and unfamiliar with the etiquette of the other drivers.

Driving even for 3 or 4 hours takes it’s toll on both driver and navigator.  Perhaps that alone is a reason for hiring a driver, or taking a shuttle.  Upon arrival, no one is in the mood or has the energy to do anything too adventuresome.  Without planned stops along the way, we always arrive hungry and have put off eating for a little too long.  Our reality is that while driving you pass things so quickly that it’s too late and you assume there will be another one just ahead.  And then there’s not for 20 more miles…and then you are almost there anyway so why not just get there.  Perhaps adopting some better guidelines for traveling by land would be in order.  I would love to hear your thoughts on that.

The downside of driving is that we seem to lose a day on both sides.  While I know this isn’t exactly true, it can feel that way.  We forget the beauty of the journey when we think this way…but we regret no being able to spend another day at the destination.  A two night stay is one day of exploring with driving on each side.

We are learning a great many lessons about traveling and exploring a new country in Panama.  We have seen a wide variety of people, housing, accommodations and weather.  We have traveled from North to South and now from West to East.  We have enjoyed the Caribbean as well as the Pacific climates.  We are now in our second cloud forest area.  The journey has been amazing.  The days are going by too rapidly sometimes and the end of this long awaited trip is looming.  It’s funny how we need to adjust our thinking so that we can fully experience our travels.  I think truly a lot of what I’m experiencing is from lack of experience in traveling this way and having the right mindset to do so. I will be anxious to process it all over time and have advise for others in the future!

Here’s the the beauty of Panama…and the variety of climates in such a small country!



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