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Panama Adventure: Will Rice 2011
We loved Panama, and the places you picked out were great....
With a couple of minor exceptions (mentioned below), everything went very smoothly. I have a few stories and some comments that might help future clients.
(re: driving from Tocumen to Gamboa)
... We were hopelessly lost the entire time we were driving through Panama City. There is no relationship between the maps and the street signs. Change number 1. I would take a taxi to Albrook and rent the car there. Well worth the extra cab fare.
We did manage to get in the wrong lane in the toll booth--twice. Fortunately, it was Sunday and we were able to back up and get in the right lane. We finally figured out which sign meant cash and which one meant you needed a prepaid card. You should warn future clients about this one. I can't imagine what a mess it would have been during rush hour.
You mentioned that you haven't used Mateo's B&B. We loved it. Lots of birds and animals. We had five new birds and two new animals on the life list from the first hour in his back yard. Mateo and his wife were friendly and gracious. However, he has two classes of rooms. One is a pair of tiny little rooms with an outdoor bathroom. The other is the top floor of one of the old Canal Company buildings. He moved us from the tiny room to the spacious apartment after the first night. You should have no hesitation about sending anyone to the larger rooms (mention the cold water showers), but warn them about the small ones. We didn't have a problem with it, but some people would. ....</p>
Los Quetzales was great. We had a female quetzal land outside the deck fifteen minutes after we checked in. We should have followed your advice about the sweaters, instead of relying on my usual tropical alternative, a light weight poly shirt I use for skiing. We were 500 feet higher than the lodge and at that altitude the temps were a damp 50 degrees. Happily, the wood stove made evenings very comfortable. We used a meal option that didn't appear on the website. For $10, they will deliver meals from the restaraunt. We brought our own wine, they supplied the food, and we had the evenings to ourselves, watching the hummingbirds and bats...
We loved Al Naturale, and wished we had spent another day there. It was far better than we expected from the descriptions of Boca. The food was the best I have ever had in Latin America.
Our flight to Panama City was moved up, but we really enjoyed the Balboa Inn and the neighborhood around it. Good birding in the garden and around the streets. It put us up over 90 species for the trip, and we are not serious birders (unlike most of the other Panama tourists we met).
Thanks for putting together a great trip.....