Panama is sort of the joker in our deck of travel destinations. We had two weeks in between our Galapagos trip and the next adventures awaiting us in South America, so we decided to spend these weeks in a new country! The eleventh country on our world journey, to be exact.

Considering the late booking, we came here not knowing what to expect and have, more or less, taken one day at a time. First thing to check off in the list in the capital Panama City was of course the Panama Canal! Very interesting to read about the work behind this massive construction and see the giant ships sailing through. Definitely worth the trip if you ever come across this country.

Waiting for the boats! Sailing boats and catamarans entering the first lock at the last part of the canal... … reducing water... … opening the gates… … and sailing through! Notice the cargo ship in the background passing through in the extended canal for wider ships.

A short Uber ride from the modern part of Panama City, an old and architectural area draws attention to itself, known as Casco Viejo. Here, one can find ruins of churches next to cosy cafés and seaside boutiques. A lovely neighbourhood for sure, but hard to fully enjoy, knowing that considerably poorer neighbourhoods is only a few blocks away.

Power bowl and avocado toast for breakfast this morning in Casco Viejo. Nom nom nom. Panama City skyline. Cathedral Metropolitana (Great place to cool off from the heat). One of the ruins in Casco Viejo.

Big cities are sure nice sometimes, but that’s not what really attracts us. Instead, we jumped on a small ferry and escaped to the Pearl Islands. A quiet space with white beaches, cold refreshing water and golf cars rather to drive around the small island. Coming straight from Sweden, this might have felt like a small paradise with its resemblance of the Mediterranean countries, but spoilt as we have become on this journey with the true paradises on earth, we would not agree. It is definitely, however, enjoyable and beautiful. The coastlines of this island is filled with one luxurious house after another, showing again the income disparity. With the Panama papers in the back of our mind, it didn’t feel quite right. In despite of this, when the day of departure came knocking on the door, we did not want to leave.

Minna looking for sea shells on the beach of Bajo Bayonera.Beach boy. Somewhere between the islands…

We took a short flight and arrived in another part of Panama. Namely, Boquete. A lush area with lots of hiking, activities and coffee plantation. However, still in beach mode, we opted only for the latter during our stay here. Also to save and build up some energy to more intense travels in South America later on.

The river that floats through Boquete. Mandatory coffee stop in downtown.

A small minivan drove us to the plantation up in the mountains. Volcano soil and higher altitude provide good conditions to produce high quality coffee. We were taken on a journey from “bean to coffee”, and learned quite a lot about coffee actually. At this plantation, they produce a ridiculous expensive coffee called Geisha, costing up to $400/kg! We thought it was nothing special, but apparently popular in Asia, a growing market in coffee consumption (like any other market).

Our guide and a coffee plant of the arabica family. Picking coffee fruit is not for tall people… Coffee beans drying in a traditional way on concrete. Small beauties! Smells good!

These two goofy rascals would like to say a warm hello to everyone reading our blog. Next stop is Lima, Peru to start a five week tour through South America. Adios amigos! Pretty flower!

Sipping piña colada while updating blog and writing diary.