We caught the ferry from Bocas to meet up with our travel buddies Chris and Kristin in a little town called Santa Catalina on the Pacific coast—which is also home to a really good surfing break (named after the town) and it’s touted as having the most consistent surf in Central America. A long walk out over volcanic rock and then it’s a fair paddle to a beautiful but shallow reef break offering fast lefts and rights, when we arrived the waves were about shoulder high. We camped in a nice spot called Oasis right on the beach with plenty of shade and fresh coconuts falling scarily close to our tents, like manna from the sky. Try boiling a cup and a half of rice in the juice drained from two freshly fallen coconuts in a thin camp pot … best eaten under undiluted galaxies.
A few tranquilo days later we headed inland to camp with a rasta yogi, known locally as ‘Swami‘ and his rainbow gathering crew, the cheapest accommodation we could find in a town that’s centered in the crater of an extinct volcano, called El Valle, about two hours outside of Panama city. When the Panama Canal was owned and operated by the States a few Panamanian officials were getting fairly good kickbacks and we were told that this is where their kids bought up large chunks of fertile land, building grandiose houses with rambling manicured lawns set amongst awesome tropical landscaping. We had read that the town hosts an interesting arts and crafts market and were a little disappointed to find it much of the same and our only real discovery worth reporting was the Maracuya (passionfruit) juice served in a small out-of-the-way cafe.