Just outside the modern and explosive city of Panama lies several Pacific Ocean islands connected by a ferry system. If you have nostalgia for military bases and would like to see one of Noreiga’s old haunts or would just like to explore a Pacific island then Rio Hato might just fit the bill.
A former United States military training base this island has all of the marks of island life including brilliant bougainvillea growing wild throughout the area. While hiking around you can find bread shops, (locally called pan) small restaurants, and neighborhood bars where the locals hangout. With some of the best offshore fishing in the world you can make arrangements with the locals for a day trip charter.
If you were a writer or had your own home Internet business this would be a pretty good place to hang your hat while watching nearby beaches explode with activity. Still with a village feel you can find all of your local stuff at reasonable prices and also remain in the country of Panama, which has been the number one destination for the last several years for x-pats from the states. Panama offers excellent incentives for retirees, has a good health-care system and still has reasonable prices on most
While you are exploring around the area you might want to check out Santa Clara. Santa Clara has a beautiful white sand beach, with not many tourists throughout the week, (locals come here on the weekends) a few really good fish restaurants and excellent overnight accommodations. Even though there is plenty of construction in the area— this is just the beginning of year’s of Real Estate development in Panama. This might be a good time to check out the three town area and purchase your own beach front property or condo.
You should also check out Farallon which is now a hot beach destination. It was just another sleepy fishing village until the Colombian owned Decameron Hotel Chain built a mega resort in late 2000. Now with condos sprouting up the days are probably numbered for discovering this sleepy fishing village hideaway on your own. At any rate these off the beaten path communities are a short distance from Panama and can transport you instantly into the island mood. You can visit all three beach towns and come back with a nice suntan, lots of outdoor water adventures and plenty of excellent photos.
While your in Panama you should purchase an authentic Panama hat with the tight weave. Not only do these Panama hats have style, but they are very durable as well. And if you have ever been a sucker for nostalgic movies— what could look cooler than a white linen suit topped off with a Panama hat? Brad Pitt is sporting hats these days. Families used to pass these fine Panama hats down as heirlooms.
It’s funny when I travel in Merida, Mexico they tell me they make the only original Panama hats, and when I am in Nicaragua they tell me the same thing, and to top it off the real Panama hat is actually made in Ecuador. So if all of this still sounds confusing we can say that these beautiful Panama hats are made by hand by indigenous folks from Mexico, Central and South America. While in Panama you can purchase an authentic Panama hat made locally at one of the craft shops, which helps support the local artists—and that’s a good thing. And when the conversation is a bit dull you can always discuss where your Panama hat was really made. Really— I dare say ole boy!
The country of Panama is a democracy and is relatively free from political strife. You also have the balmy weather, excellent offshore fishing, and groupers the size of 12 year old boys brought up by local divers. So if you wanted to pick a place that felt like Spain, had a sense of island and bright blue waters, found the people to be friendly, and needed a new address, away from the hustle and bustle— anyone of these three islands just might be the ticket.
QUOTE: “Lu-men moonlight spills through misty trees and I come again to the old hermitage.The path leads through pines, to the brushwork door back again to solitude and silence. Where a hermit lives, there’s no need for companions.”
– Meng Hao-jan (689-740)—–dailyzen.com
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The Panama hat is made in Ecuador! “The Panama hat is one of the original traditional components of the sartorial treasures of numerous indigenous communities in the provinces of Azuay and Manabi in the south of Ecuador. The manufacture of this hat is made with the leaves of carludovica palmata (tree of the cyclanthacees family), called straws of toquilla, rests largely therefore, once again, on a traditional manual, and essentially feminine ability. The Panama hat, secular evidence of a way of life and things (handicrafts) created by these indigenous groups, became the object of the attention of the privileged among western consumers around 1881 when work was first begun on the Panama canal. Curiously the hat was and is distributed around the world under its present name which refers Panama City, its first distribution center. Coveted for the first time for its functional qualities (hardiness, suppleness and lightness) it soon became well known in the Hollywood movies of Forties as it entered the pantheon of hat wear for the stars. This is how an everyday piece of hat ware of an indigenous people became a symbol of sophistication and luxury for occidental countries.'”—— planetpanama.com
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Panama Hats: Like Levy bluejeans— they are already being sought after as collector’s items. They keep you from the hot sun, shelter you during a rain storm, and they are oh so cool. My hat’s off to the Panama Hat.
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Always wear your Panama hat—especially when you blog.
Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free.