I knew the day would come when the travel gods would call my number. I don’t know how I managed to enjoy so many meals without ever getting sick, but my day was coming. While I was in Panama, I stopped for lunch at this dingy spot outside of Casco Viejo called Cafe Coca Cola. I’d walked by it a time or two in the four times that I had visited Panama, but never cared to go inside. Everything about it screamed insanitary, but I’ve learned from experience that looks can be deceiving. I took a seat and read the history of the restaurant from the menu, learning that it was the oldest running cafe in the city, with the likes of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Teddy Roosevelt as previous visitors. With my mind now at ease, I ordered a plate of shrimp fried rice and a soda. Continue reading
Panama was my first passport stamp, and a great learning experience. I still remember being nervous and anxious as I boarded my flight to the Central American country. I arrived just as the sun began to set, and took a taxi to Sortis Hotel in the Obarrio neighborhood. Sortis was located in a nice area for me, as it was very close to El Cangrejo and the Via Argentina metro station. It was also directly across from Farmacia Arrocha, which was like a CVS and came in handy for bottled water and snacks. The hotel also had a casino, spa, nice pool, and several dining options. I had Sunday brunch inside the hotel at Manabi, and although it was not my most memorable meal in Panama, it was very good.
When I think back to my time in Panama, the food definitely comes to mind. I enjoyed the empanadas at Los Venezolanos, churros at Churreria Manolo, Panamanian coffee, and dinner at El Caribe. El Caribe and Los Venezolanos are gems that I still think about on a regular basis. Panamanian coffee is strong, and I wish I had brought some back with me.
One of the main reasons I ventured to Panama was to see Black Jesus, or Cristo Negro. I rented a car in Panama City and headed to Portobelo for a day trip. The Waze app is what guided me in the right direction during the two-hour trek. I drove down the winding roads, and admired the natural beauty of the countryside until I arrived at my location. There, I parked on a one way street and followed some other people who looked like tourists in order to find my way to Iglesia de San Felipe. When I’m trying to find a tourist attraction, I’ve learned that following someone with a camera around his neck and New Balance sneakers can lead me right where I need to be.