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in Central America, Destinations, Home, Lifestyle, Panama

Panamá Travel Diary – A personal update

  • August 21, 2017
  • By Christina
Panamá Travel Diary – A personal update

Panama Travel Diary – A personal update

I’m currently sitting in seat F10 on my Copa Airlines red eye flight to Panama City. I’m embarking on a two month trip through Panama in which I’ll be attending Habla Ya Spanish School’s full immersion program in two locations, the bustling metropolis of Panama City and the floating island town of Bocas del Toro.

What qualifies as full immersion? Well, my courses are five days a week for 4 hours a day. I tested into the beginning level, and am hoping to become much more confident and capable in my Spanish speaking and comprehension.

Ever since I started traveling more I realized that it’s somewhat selfish to only speak one language and expect the rest of the world to accommodate me. When this opportunity arose I was elated, I’ve always wanted to delete my auto retracted response that I speak “poquito Español” when asked if I speak Spanish.

I haven’t taken Spanish lessons since I attended Central Oregon Community College nearly a decade ago, but growing up I was often surrounded by the language, and to speak it fluently has always been a huge goal of mine.

LAX to Panama City, landing at Tocumen International Airport

A new direction

I’m thrilled to be working with Habla Ya and writing about the program and my experience with the school! In addition to my lessons, there are weekly activities that will help me to get out and explore the city!

As some of you may or may not know, this experience was quite a segway from the course I was scheduled to embark on. I had originally planned to transfer to Cal State University, Long Beach to get my bachelor’s degree in journalism. Perhaps I was burnt out from school, but I felt myself being pulled away from school and toward my writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly value education, but I also believe that it comes in many forms. Following an academic career in Journalism was my way of trying to fit the square peg that I am into the round hole of conventional expectations. I may very likely return to school to get my bachelor’s when the time is right. Essentially though, traveling and writing are the most important thing to me outside of my family.

Panama Travel Diary - Before my red eye flight to Panama City I grabbed a glass of wine

Organizing my writing schedule at LAX before my flight.

So here I am, mid-flight, enjoying the luxury of for once in my life having an entire row to myself, sipping on a celebratory rum and coke, (listening to Despacito, don’t judge you know you love that song) and pondering what’s ahead.

Here’s a short list of what I’m most excited for:

  • Advancing my Spanish
  • Exploring Panama City, the nexus for international business and trade
  • Island hopping in Bocas del Toro
  • Country hopping across the border from Panama to Costa Rica
  • Seeing sloth’s
  • Learning how to salsa
  • Celebrating my 30th (OMG) birthday in Central America!

Ok I’m going to stop the list right there because, holy smokes, I’m going to be 30! I know that in the grand scheme of life that I’m still young, but this is just a crazy thing. The unrealistic life I had predetermined myself to be living by 30 is definitely a stark contrast from my reality, but I’m ok with that. In contrast to my plan A, I’m following a path that might not check off the boxes on the outline I made at 23, but then again, I don’t think I knew my ass from my elbow at 23.

But, now I’m rambling. Bottom line is that I’m going to be 30 in a month, celebrating in a beautiful and diverse country while chasing my dreams. I never would have put that on my list at 23, and in that regard I couldn’t be more proud of the life I live.

Wet season in Panama City!

Arriving in Panama City was a stormy introduction! I was hit with a thick wave of humidity and rain… but I couldn’t be more excited!

Panama Travel Diary - My first meal in Panama was homemade refried black bean and veggie tacos!

Homemade tacos which I doused in way too much jalapeño juice resulting in my sweating off 10 pounds on the patio.

“Every great adventure begins with a first step.”

This trip symbolizes much more than just a working holiday for me. This trip is:

  • My first solo trip!
  • My longest trip abroad
  • My first time attending a Spanish immersion program
  • My first time leaving the country twice in one year (I went to Cuba in April).

These may be meager accomplishments to some, but to me they’re a big deal. I love writing, so the fact that my writing is in turn the tool that fosters more traveling makes me very proud.

I’ll be in Panama City for two weeks and then I’ll take the overnight bus to Bocas del Toro, where I’ll stay for a month. Steve will join me toward the end and we’re not sure where we’ll be so stay tuned! Be sure to check back every Monday as that’s when I’ll be posting updates. Here’s a quick peek at my digs for the next two weeks.

The Panama House hostel in Panama City

The Panama House Bed and Breakfast in Panama City

The house parrot at the Panama House

The owner of the bed and breakfast keeps a watchful eye on his guests.

The backyard of the Panama House Hostel in Panama City

The common area where guests gather for breakfast every morning.

The boss of the house, a beautiful parrot.

Safe to say I’m making friends quickly!

Have you been to Panama City? Recommendations are welcomed in the comments below!

If you love Latin America, check out an explicit look at daily life in Havana, Cuba!



Share me!
By Christina, August 21, 2017
  • Greg Hill
    August 21, 2017

    So awesome! Love you sis! So happy for you!!! Excellent writing!

  • Ytzi
    August 23, 2017

    Omg, im super happy for you Chris!!! If you want I can start commenting in spanish, so you will get used to.

    Aprovecha mucho tus clases, y explora aún más!

    Nunca estuve en Panamá pero me encantaría visitar!!!!



  • Yasmine
    August 28, 2017

    Exciting! Have a wonderful time! Looking forward to reading about the adventure.

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About Me
Hi there!
I'm Christina, a So Cal native who's always on the move! I like to chase sunsets preferably accompanied by tacos or Thai food. Follow along if you enjoy cultural immersion, meaningful travel and a dose of awkward moments. ;)


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