Been there, done that, forgot to buy a t-shirt

I created a bucket list before going to Panama. How well did I live up to/achieve my goals?

  1. Learn Spanish
    Well, I know more than I did when I left. By virtue of finding that the majority of my interactions with Panamanians were by necessity in Spanish, I understand more than I can communicate. I did have a handful of lessons, which helped, but I didn’t get very far because then we went to the States and upon returning began preparations to leave. So this was not accomplished, but given the situation, oh well.
  2. Visit South America (my fourth continent!)
    Not so much. Not even close. But, again, considering the trip was 10 months shorter than expected, oh well.
  3. Check out Casco Viejo in Panama City
    Did this on multiple occasions. Apart from the smaller towns/suburbs near where we lived, this is where I spent my time in Panama City.
  4. Go hiking in the rainforest
    Checked this off on my birthday and saw monkeys, woot 🙂
  5. Try surfing
    I went to the beach twice. This did not happen. (And couldn’t have happened at the beaches I went to)
  6. Take a whitewater rafting trip down the Chiriqui
    Didn’t happen.
  7. Capture the Bridge of the Americas on film (…ok, memory card)
    Did this on multiple occasions – never a great shot though. More adventurous though, was driving over it. It’s high, the lanes are narrow, there are buses, and everyone goes 20 km over the speed limit.
  8. Catch a fish
    Didn’t go fishing (and the water was gross)
  9. Explore the canal
    I visited it, and that was enough for me.
  10. Go swimming in the Caribbean and Pacific
    “Swimming” might be a bit of a stretch for my Caribbean adventure, but I did wade a bit. Outside of Bocas and the San Blas islands, I don’t think the Panama Caribbean is really known for its beaches.
  11. Eat amazing food
    I never took a picture, but the empanadas were delicious. And I ate octopus on multiple occasions. So, by amazing I think I mean different than what I would usually find in the States.
  12. Visit an Embera Village
  13. Feel incredibly out of place at a disco
    This was kind of a lame goal to begin with, so I’m not heartbroken that I didn’t follow through.

6/13 isn’t bad in two months. What else did I do that didn’t make it on to the list but I might suggest to other Panama adventurers?

  • Ride a buspublic transportation is possibly one of the ultimate cultural adventures, and however intimidating the buses may look, I had a positive experience. I would advise knowing where you’re going and/or being able to communicate in Spanish…or don’t be afraid to get lost. 🙂
  • Panama Viejo – if you like old places and ruins, this is definitely a spot to check out. Knowledge of Spanish would be helpful if you want to read the signs (it was too humid for me to even bother trying).
  • Ancon Hill – okay, so I didn’t really make it up Ancon Hill – but if I had, the view would definitely have been worth it.

My two months in Panama did not amount to a great feat in tourism. I was there to work, and between the job not facilitating extensive adventures and my own disinclination to make the effort, I didn’t see as much as I would have liked to (San Blas Islands!). But I am thankful for the introduction to Central America (if in a country that is perhaps unsure which continent it belongs to), and although I don’t see myself returning, anything is possible, and I would be excited to see more of the country beyond Panama City.


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