What if you were sitting in the shade of a palm tree looking out at coral white sands on a tropical island? Yesterday, you were learning to paddleboard from a hidden cove, and tomorrow you’ll explore surfing spots farther up the mainland coast.
What if you were sitting in the shade of a palm tree looking out at coral white sands on a tropical island? Yesterday, you were learning to paddleboard from a hidden cove, and tomorrow you’ll explore surfing spots farther up the mainland coast. Tonight you’ll choose from French cuisine, Italian pasta, or feast on fresh-caught tuna while watching the game at Smileys bar.
Standing on a bridge over the Calderas River, watching it bubble and tumble down the valley, it's easy to see why the Swedes and Swiss who arrived in this sheltered spot in the early 20th century felt so immediately at home. Pure mountain air and forest-green hillsides are something you expect of Scandinavia or the Alpine foothills...not tropical little Panama.
My adventures in pursuit of stories have taken me to strange and wonderful places. The spice-scented bazaars of Istanbul were memorable, as were the breweries of Dusseldorf on the banks of the German Rhine. I have haggled with gypsies, queried stamp investors, "borrowed" a speed boat to check out real estate, and handled shotguns in London worth $100,000 each.
I have discovered my favorite way to view a property for sale. First, you get an hour-long massage costing just $45. Then you eat your fill of fresh-off-the-boat tuna for just $8. And finally, you take a five-minute walk through the streets of Pedasi, Panama and take a look at this house on the left. For sale for $80,000, it's a two-bedroom, 743-square-foot home currently renting for $600 a month unfurnished.
The two best things about mornings in Volcancito are the coffee and the view. I'm at the heart of Panama's coffee-growing highlands—there's even a bush of red "cherries" in my garden. (They're surprisingly sweet when you suck one.) And for $600 a month, including all utilities you get a stunning view of the town of Boquete, Panama.
What do monkeys, orchids and modern art have in common? You’ll find them all on Ancon hill. At 654 feet high Ancon is an island of natural beauty in the western part of Panama City. Formerly part of the Canal Zone, it’s now a protected area of secondary forest. Flowering Bird of paradise grows on the roadside and tawny-eared neque (think a rabbit crossed with a squirrel) hop into the undergrowth as you approach.
In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day I have a tip to share… The pub is central to Irish social life. It’s waned a bit in importance (you won’t find every funeral and wedding there these days) but it’s still the one institution that makes a visit to the Emerald Isle unique. And to truly immerse yourself like a local find yourself a “lock in.”