Solo travel has its good moments. Standing at the start of the hiking trail ‘Sendero Los Quetzales’ in complete isolation, viewing the natural beauty of the sunrise over the hills of Boquette whilst listening to ‘Headstart to Happiness’ by Style Council was definitely a moment best enjoyed alone. However, getting here had not been easy, especially at the beginning of my trip.
As the shared taxi drove in the dark and lashing rain towards the light of the skyscrapers and unfinished buildings of Panama City my fellow passengers were dropped off at their grand hotels, the lights faded behind me and the buildings took on a more crumbled appearance. I realised I was coming towards my guesthouse, ‘Pension Colon’ in Casco Viejo, which was to be my home for the next two days.
Waking up to the brightness and heat of the sun pouring in through the window is one of the joys of foreign travel. Sadly, this was not the case on my next day in Panama. I was awoken by the continuing sound of rain and the noise of saws and hammers. In the darkness of night, I had failed to notice I would be staying in a building site.
Unperturbed, I set out to explore the streets dressed in my bright green poncho which makes me look like a giant flaccid condom. Another plus of solo travel is that fashion can take a back seat as nobody you know will ever see your ridiculous choice of clothes. The sights of the old town were numerous and I got a grasp of the essence of Panama and the nature of its people just by walking around for a couple of hours.
A trip to the world famous Panama Canal is as expected when holidaying in this country. The history of the building of the canal is fascinating and the area surrounding the canal surprisingly beautiful; Engineering progress and natural beauty contrast with each other, much like the country as a whole. It says something of Panama that what makes this country famous was achieved at the expense of its natural environment.
I moved onto Chitre, a hundred miles south-west of Panama City, determined to prove wrong Graham Greene’s description of it as a ‘dull little town’. He is wrong, but only because the towns surrounding it make Chitre more interesting in contrast. There is simply nothing of curiosity in this region unless fiestas are in progress.
Therefore, I moved onto Boquette to experience more nature. It really is stunning; I recommend getting here as soon as you can. Before the overdevelopment of Panama City gets to the mountains. Already, property is being bought here by foreign nationals, at a rapid rate.
After Boquette, I came back to Panama City and checked in at the same guesthouse as before. ‘Pension Colon’ had changed beyond recognition, it no longer resembled a building site, upgrading to ‘faded colonial grandeur’, proving that some development in Panama, perhaps, is for the better.
About the Author: Robert Davies. I am 36 years old and originally from England but have just moved to Bangkok. My passions are sport and travel and I often like to combine the two. Find me on Facebook or my blog.
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