Category Archives: Panama

The Lay-Over Country

Since I always fly Copa Airlines when travelling in the Americas, I always have to connect flight in Panama. Sometimes it’s just an hour in transit and other times it’s a day. Panama is a beautiful country, apart from time spent here in transit; I have visited this precious country three times in the past.

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Well, when next you find yourself in transit in Panama and you have a few hours before your next flight, there are several sites to check out in Panama City. The Panama Canal is one; there is Albrook mall (a bit far from the airport); Metro mall (very close to the airport and there is a free round-trip shuttle from the airport); the Afro-Antillano museum (interesting place to learn about the Afro culture in Panama, cost $1, address is Calle 24 Este y Avenida Justo Arosemena); and Casco Viejo.

FYI, do you know the Tocumen International Airport has a church, I think it is new because I did not notice it before


Budget: Money Talk – Colombia 2009

Below is how money was spent for my 10 months trip across Latin America (Aug 2009 to June 2010). Colombia was the first country, then I went up to Mexico and visited Cuba. I didn’t really do a estimation of how much I should spend. I just went with the flow. Now, I’m much better in creating a budget and sticking to it. I stayed in Colombia for 4 months and took Spanish classes for 3 months at two different institutions. I also took Spanish classes at Nicaragua and Guatemala. Some countries were cheaper than others. By far, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico and Cuba were the most expensive. Those were the countries where I had to be very strict on how I spent money. Whereas, in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua, I could afford to pay more for better hostels, take more comfortable buses and eat at nicer places. Panama and Colombia are in the middle tier, sometimes I enjoyed ‘luxury’, other times I was careful on what I spent money on. Below, you will find a breakdown on how money was spent in general and by country/city. Oh, a good amount went towards ATM and Credit Card transaction fees.

Country Total USD Per Day (USD) Duration
Colombia $5,914.78            $53 16 Weeks
Panama $1,148         $32.8      5 Weeks
Costa Rica $294 $49 6 days
Nicaragua $1,679.29 $50 5 Weeks
Honduras $1,110.69 $26.4 6 Weeks
El Salvador $255.48 $36.5 1 Week
Guatemala $951.13 $45 3 Weeks
Belize $277 $40 1 Week
Mexico $902.54 $44 3 Weeks
Cuba $910 $65 2 Weeks
Sub Total $13,442.91
Ticket $1,490.50
Shots & other travel gears   $1,138.06  Included Backpack, medications, travel insurance e.t.c
Total $16,071.47
 *Ticket was Multi-city:First leg: Atlanta – Miami – Medellin (Colombia). Second Leg: Cartagena (Colombia) – Panama City. Third Leg: Mexico City – Havana (Cuba) – Panama City – Guatemala City. Fourth Leg: Mexico City – Houston (Texas, USA)

Colombia 2009: Aug 13 to Dec 12, 2009

Colombia USD Duration
Medellin $4,862.78 3 Months
Bogota $200 5 Days
Cali & Buenaventura $540 2 Weeks
Cartagena $312 1 Week
Total $5,914.78 4 Months
Medellin: Breakdown USD Duration
Spanish classes $1,572 7 Weeks
Home stay (2 meals per day, Laundry & Internet) $1,540 8 Weeks
Belly Dancing $103
Student Visa $150
Others (Food, Entertainment, Weekend trips, Tours, In-City transportation) $1,497.78
Total $4,862.78
Panama (Panama City, Bocas, David, Playa Las Lajas & San Blas) USD 1148
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $1,076
ATM fee $73
Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo & San Jose) USD 294
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $280
ATM fee $14
Nicaragua (Managua, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Playa Popoyo, Isla Ometepe, Corn Islands & Granada) USD 1679.29
ATM fee $86.21
Domestic Flight $171.33
Spanish class & Homestay $260
Fedex Shipment to the USA $221.83
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $939.92
Honduras (La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Copan, Sambo Creek, Tela) USD 1110.69
ATM fee $56.80
Other (Hostel, weekend trip, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $673.89
Room & Board $380
El Salvador (San Salvador, Playa El Tunco & Mozote) USD 225.48
ATM fee $5.48
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $250
Guatemala (Antigua, Lago Atitlan & Xela) USD 951.13
ATM fee $20.99
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $815.14
Spanish class $115
Belize (San Iganacio, Hopkins & Caye Caulker) USD 277
ATM fee $5
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $272
Mexico (Mexico City, Tulum, Merida, Oaxaca, Palenque & San Cristobal de las Casas) USD 902.54
ATM fee $10
Tour – (Chichen Itza) $35
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $857.54
Cuba (Havana, Santa Clara & Trinidad) USD 910
ATM fee $10
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $900

Carnival in Honduras

After Cuba, I’ve had a blast revisiting Panama & Honduras. I went to Panama after Cuba to see places I missed the first time. I met up with a Swedish guy I met in Guatemala in March and we traveled together to David (Panama 2nd largest city), Playa Las Lajas and Santa Catalina. There is nothing in David but the hostel we stayed at was awesome -Hostal Bambú, very laid back staff and it had a swimming pool. In Playa Las Lajas, really there is nothing much to do here expect chill & surf and same goes for Santa Catalina expect it has better wave for surfing -both places are beautiful. Actually we only went to Santa Catalina because we wanted to visit the Isla de Coiba (It used to house the most dangerous prisoners & political prisoners in Panama and it’s rich in nature), but we couldn’t go because of bad weather.

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Then I went to San Blas island where I met really amazing people. I stayed at Isla Robinson for a night and moved to Isla Franklin which I liked better. It was cleaner, nicer and much lively. It was sad to leave but am glad I made the trip. As usual, Panama City was great, did a little shopping. Its impossible to go to Panama City and not shop because they really have cheap stuffs. Oh, by the way if anyone of you is interested in a Panama girlfriend, I can hook you up.

Then off to Guatemala City to pick up my backpack that I left at Dos Lunas guesthouse and took a 22 hours bus ride with Hedman Alas for $54 to La Ceiba, Honduras. I moved into the ‘Central America Spanish School’ volunteer house and it felt great to finally have my own room to myself. I shared the house with 3 wonderful girls from New York. We partied together and ate each others food. My second week in Honduras was very crazy, it was the start of the much talked about carnival and am pleased I was here to experience it. The carnival was a week long affair with Saturday being the biggest day of all. So for a whole week, we attended the carnival in different neighborhood, the earliest time we arrived home was 3am but I think it was worth it.

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On the first day of carnival, we met Ricardo (a local from La Ceiba), he took us to the carnival venue because we were lost and introduced us to more local people -it turned out fun.

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The Friday of the carnival, we partied extra hard (me, the 3 girls from NY -Chemique, Christine & Alex, Tessa -from Holland, she works at my school, Joshue -a Spanish teacher at the school, Matt -another American living in La Ceiba, Tiara -also from New York, Josephine -my German friend who came from Guatemala to attend the carnival and some other people. I really can not explain that night, it was so much fun and we met another America from Tennessee -he is a peace corp volunteer here in Honduras. The Saturday’s Carnival was much grand – they had a parade from 12 noon to around 5.30pm, then the party began until Sunday morning. The parade was really cool – for me the most impressive show was that from Tigo (a cellular phone company) and the US military. Tigo had a Bike show -with girls & guys doing stunts -really cool and the US military had planes flying, doing stunts in the air and flying really really really low, I mean you should almost touch it.
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My house mates left the Monday after the carnival, which means Tessa and Joshue are all I have left in La Ceiba. By the way, partying is not all I do here in La Ceiba, I volunteer at a government day care for low income family. The kids love me, every morning when I arrive at the school, they run and give me a hug – isn’t that just sweet. I love La Ceiba mainly because I can fit in and I can pass for being from here and I don’t have to worry about people staring at me like they haven’t seen a black person before or yelling out negra or other stuff like that.

Oh this past weekend I went to San Pedro de la Sula. I took a taxi from the terminal to the hotel and the taxi driver insisted on charging me 100 limpiras, normally the price is 50 limpiras. I told him no & that he’s charging me twice the rate, I got down to ask the hotel receptionist how much its suppose to be because I hate to cheat anyone out of their money -she told me it shouldn’t be more than 50 limpiras then the taxi driver went all crazy and started calling me a ugly black trash and other racial sluts. Funny thing is that it didn’t upset me, I think after 9 months of traveling in Latin America, am numb to racial sluts and the likes. By the way I gave him the 100 limpiras – my thinking was $5 doesn’t make a different in my life & it must really mean something to him for causing all that unnecessary drama.

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DSC05323I was happy to return to La Ceiba. On Sunday, we went to Sambo Creek -a Garifuna town 30 minutes outside of La Ceiba to eat dinner. The food was good and surprising the town was buzzing with music & a lot of people, the club was even open & filled with people dancing. It was fun, I liked it. My trip is almost over, I have only about 3 more weeks and I don’t know what to feel – to be happy or sad. It will feel good making money again, having my own apartment, eating the Nigerian food I like, starting graduate school and seeing my family again. However I wish I still have money and time so I could continue traveling and experience new things……

until next time…………..

 

 

 

Panama: the 51st & cheapest state of USA

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I was sad about leaving Colombia, in my heart I considered myself a ‘paisa’ (a paisa is someone from the Antioquia state of Colombia) but at the same time, I was excited about exploring Central America especially Nicaragua and Mexico……….

I had the worst experience ever at the Colombian airport, my bags were searched – I mean they took out everything from the bag and even broke open one of my tampons, I do not know what they were looking for ……I was almost crying, anyways that is the past.

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Finally I was in Panama, I stayed in a hostel that is extremely hyped -Lunas Castle, for me it was just a big hostel with too many people and unclean. I met a girl from Texas on my very first day and together with other peeps from Israel , we explored Panama City. The most impressive sight is the canal – I have never seen such innovation before, we got to see a cruise ship going through the canal – I can not describe it so I’ll upload a video. After 6 days in the Panama City, I was ready to see Bocas del Toro (the Caribbean side). One thing I liked about Panama City was the food – the city has great food (better than in Colombia) for cheap and a lot of shopping mall selling cheap stuffs – so I got a 2 purses, a scandal, 2 flip-flops, a short and 10 pairs of underwear for only $10 USD – imagine, you can not get that deal anywhere else……….

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Bocas is cool & better than Cartagena (Colombia) in my opinion and have a lot of beautiful beaches……..my favorite so far is the wizard beach, then the playa estrella which has a lot of star fish, red frog beach is great also but you have to pay $3 to get in. The party here is great because every night there is ladies night somewhere so I do not have to pay for drinks -Que Bacano! The hostel I’m staying in – Hostel Heike- is cool, you meet wonderful people and the roof-top area is amazing, however the hostel is not very clean and you cannot get much sleep here either…..Christmas was very interesting, we spent the day at the beach, then went to dinner and party later on. So far there are a lot of people from Israel, Germany and Switzerland traveling this part of the world and you just have to love the SWISS.
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I crossed my first land border on the 28th, it was hassle-free – I was sort of disappointed when we got into Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (Costa Rica), and more frustrated when we couldn’t find a hostel or hotel because they are all fully booked to January 3. Well, we finally found a room in hotel puerto viejo, its not the best but we don’t have a choice. Now I understand why people say Costa Rica is very expensive. I wish I was still in Bocas del Toro……..

Well Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for reading my travel blog since I started writing it in August…………….