The Panama Relocation Tour did a good job of showing us as much of the country as we could possibly see in the time we had available, plus I now have a book full of contacts and tips for moving to Panama.
The people of Panama seem to be very grounded and happy in their traditions, yet more than willing to transition into the new economic boom and a future that will inevitably include many profound changes. Panama seems to be planning and implementing these modernizations very well.
On a more touristy note, below are some comments on the new food I tried and enjoyed.
Breakfasts were great every place we stayed, I got used to lots of fruit and the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. We were always served fresh squeezed juice and the freshest fruit imaginable. The pineapple seemed to be different than what we’re used to in the US, sweeter and more of a golden yellow.
One Panamanian breakfast staple that I quickly learned to love was called hojaldres. They are really just pieces of deep-fried dough. They remind me of flattened donuts, although not sweet at all. They are excellent but definitely not diet food. They are served hot from the fryer with eggs and sausage or an omelet.
And did I mention the coffee! Café con leche at La Hacienda was the best of the best. Words don’t do justice to describe the mellow, complex flavor.
On my first day I had a great lunch at a restaurant called Las Clementina’s, recommended by Jackie in Panama City’s Old Town.
I had a fabulous non-alcoholic drink there. (I couldn’t risk falling over crooked sidewalks again!) I got the ingredients from the bartender and I will have to figure out the proportions: a whole lime, ginger, mint, some water and sugar to taste, all blended together. It was very refreshing on a hot day.
I don’t usually remember to take pictures of food before I eat it, but at this meal the drink and salad were just so pretty:
Our group meals were a lot of fun, they gave us a chance to relax and get to know each other better. My favorite lunches and dinners featured grilled fish tacos with rice and beans. We also had an excellent meal of fish with a honey sauce, which sounds questionable but was delicious.
The Panamanian food we had was not particularly spicy, its appeal was in the very fresh and high quality ingredients. The single thing I did not like was a corn dog: I found the hot dog meat texture to be watery and unpleasant. I would never eat another hot dog in Panama, it was probably a bad idea to begin with since I don’t like hot dogs much anyway.
All of the margaritas we had across Panama were great, but the best were at Big Daddy’s in Boquete. Big Daddy mixes chili powder with the salt across the rim, which perfectly enhances the lime drink. I don’t usually drink margaritas very often, but they were too good for me and most of the group to resist. It made for a great party atmosphere!