We made it to Panama! Happy Independence (from Spain) Day! We arrived into Panama City around 2:30pm and took a taxi to our hostel in Casco Viejo where we’ll be staying the next few nights. Once all of us got settled in our dorm, we decided to walk the town and explore a bit before the sun went down. Casco Viejo is located in the historic district of Panama City and is the oldest area of the entire city. Walking through different streets I noticed some of the buildings look like they’ve been abandoned for years or completely dilapidated. Turns out that back in 1671, Governor Juan Perez de Guzman has set the city on fire before the attack of pirate Henry Morgan. There’s a ton of local history within this city and the architecture within it. There is a local street market located a few blocks away from the hostel that sell all sorts of artisan craft works. You can pick up all sorts of handmade goods from beautifully crafted dolls to the famous Panama hat. After perusing around the street market we stopped by a small shop and got a plate of chicken, rice and soda for $3.25. We then walked over to a local grocery and picked up a few snacks for the night. We were able to get a bag full of items for less than $5.00. If you look in the right places, you can get food and other goods for a great price.
This past few days have been a bit of a struggle, but I’m happy that we’ve finally gotten to Panama. When we arrived at the airport this morning it took us at least 45 minutes just to get to the kiosk to check our bags. Once we finally got to the kiosk, the agent notified us that Panama now requires travelers to have proof of travel when leaving the country. Therefore, we had to step out of line and purchase bus tickets from Bocas del Toro to Puerto Viejo as proof of departure. I had received the confirmation email for our bus tickets but the reservation was still “pending.” We walked back up to the counter for them to say that it would not work because my reservation was not “confirmed.” Needless to say I wasn’t too happy and I’m trying to remain calm before my head blows up. Keeping in mind that our flight boards at 10:15am and it’s now approaching 9:45am. I ended up having to purchase one way tickets back to Ft. Lauderdale from Panama City to show as proof of departure to get through customs. Our departure time ended up getting pushed back about 20-30 minutes so that gave us enough time to get through security and get to the gate. Luckily I was able to cancel the reservation and get my money back once we cleared customs. So if you plan on traveling to Panama in the near future, make sure you have proof of departure!
I’ll be posting photos and videos in the next couple days, so be sure to check back!