Our Research Trip
We booked our research trip with a travel agent. Usually we make our travel arrangements ourselves on-line but in this case the trip was going more complicated and it would have been more time-consuming to do it ourselves.
We left in mid-October…the height of rainy season. We spent three weeks exploring Panama first. We had researched the various regions of Panama but the beach was calling us. We’ve lived landlocked all our lives and loving the sea and the sun that was at the top of our priority list.
We spent part of the first week exploring Panama City and getting a feel for the people and the culture…and the driving habits. We decided that we definitely did not want to live there! Too busy, too congested, too crazy! I described it to my friends back home as Toronto without traffic signals. The Panama Canal is a wonder that everyone should see and the city is full of culture and other sites. It is a wonderful place for people who like the hustle and bustle and the modern conveniences but we decided it wasn’t for us.
The second week we drove down the Pan American Highway. The first day of driving we met the first big rainstorm since we had been in Panama. It was like a monsoon and had me clutching the door of the vehicle as we maneuvered our way out of the city onto the highway. We only went as far as Coronado that first day as we wanted to explore a beach area closer to the city. We quickly decided that it wouldn’t be the place for us. Although there were conveniences such as supermarkets and such and it was close to the city, it was difficult to find public access to the beaches because of all the condo and housing developments in the area.
The following day as we drove through the little towns in the countryside and down the Azuero Peninsula, it was obvious to us that this was the real Panama. Rolling fields of sugar cane and maize, green hills and grazing cattle. Pedasi, Los Santos became our exploration base. We spent most days driving the back roads of the area on our own and discovering the beautiful beaches that seemed mostly deserted. We also spent a half a day with a real estate agent that came highly recommended by several people that we met. We saw a few resale houses on the market that were within our budget.
We originally intended on spending five days in the Azuero region but the Gran Desfile de Carretas la Cultura y el Folclore was taking place on Saturday. The people that we’d met insisted that we had to stay at least until the fiesta was over to get a feel for the town when there was a party going on. We stayed two extra days. Of course the festivities were nothing like what Carnaval is like but we enjoyed soaking up some of the culture and traditions all the same.