Panama is a skinny, twisting country that links North and South America, and separates the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It boasts a fascinating history and beautiful landscapes, and is one of the safest countries in the region. And it’s also going to be our home for the best part of this year.
Last year, we applied for a six-month housesit near Santa Fe; the homeowners Janet and John ultimately chose someone else, but asked if we’d like to look after their place for a couple of weeks in January instead. We said yes. Shortly before we arrived, the other housesitter pulled out of the long sit, and the homeowners offered that to us as well. We mulled it over (mostly concerned about the Internet situation) and decided that yes, the laid-back rural lifestyle could suit us quite well.
Having a six-month housesit lined up has certainly given shape to our year, which is completely planned out now — almost unthinkable, for us!
The first housesit went well; Craig and I were both working hard, but the days were broken up by visits from neighbours and trips to the market. We went to the local fair and drove into Santiago to pick up John on his return from Curaçao, and helped him pull porcupine quills from the muzzle of one of the dogs.
El Valle de Anton
Janet had invited us to spend the weekend with her and two friends in the Anton Valley, so we drove her truck down (only getting a tiny bit lost) and spent an enjoyable couple of days with her, Carnie, and Joe, exploring the region and swimming under waterfalls.
We’d planned to head to Punta Chame as soon as they left, but we’d left booking accommodation to the last minute as usual, and couldn’t stay in our preferred guesthouse. So we stayed on for another week in el Valle, working too hard and enjoying the thermal baths and our hostel’s game room.
We finally made it to Punta Chame on Monday, and made sure to walk along the beach as much as possible and watch the kite surfers zip across the waves. A severe lack of restaurants made our stay quite expensive, but it was worth it to be by the beach for a couple of days — as New Zealanders, being near the ocean is our default state!
Getting to our hotel in Panama City involved catching two buses and and Uber, but went relatively smoothly. We’d planned to explore the city during our stay there, but work constraints meant we mostly just explored the inside of a co-working space. Our one excursion was to an electronics shop to buy a brand-new microphone for recording podcasts.
Onwards to Colombia
I’m not a nervous flier, but I’m always a little uneasy on flight days — so much can go wrong at the airport! In this case, the problems started before we even got to the airport: we left our departure a little late, and found out at the last minute that an Uber was going to be three times the price we expected, and that the bus would take too long. We compromised by taking the metro part way and a taxi the final leg of the journey. Otherwise, things went pretty well, and we had a smooth flight to Medellin.
We’ll be here for two weeks, and then move on to Cartagena and beyond. Do you have any tips for travelling in Colombia? Leave a comment below!