Landing in Panama, I was already tired from a long day of traveling, and this week was so full that I’m leaving feeling like I could sleep for 50 hours straight! I’ve had such an amazing time here and I know that we only experienced a fraction of what Panama has to offer and I can’t wait to come back someday and experience even more of it. Our itinerary this week consisted of eight business visits, service learning, snorkeling, cultural and historical tours, the Smithsonian, a canal visit, and salsa dancing. If that sounds like a lot, it is. But I have had so much fun this week and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Panama is such a culturally and historically rich country and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see.

Of the places that we saw, my favorite was probably Portobello. Portobello is this beautiful place on the Caribbean seaside of Panama. It took us about an hour and a half to get there from where we were staying, and even the trip over there was gorgeous. Driving through the rainforest, passing the canal and small towns was nice. While there we took a small boat ride to a secluded beach that can only be accessed by boat, and we snorkeled and saw vibrant corals and schools of fish. I love the ocean and being able to snorkel was an experience I’ll never forget. Casco Viejo was also super fun, it really reminded me of Viejo San Juan because of the architecture and general vibe. The food scene in Casco Viejo is so diverse and all the food I had there was really good! My favorite place that I ate at there was called “la parrilla de la estancia”, they served all sorts of fried and grilled food there and it was super delicious, I ate there at least 4 times this week. Also, there is so much biodiversity in Panama. I’ve seen some very vibrant birds and plants, and I’m also pretty sure I saw a capybara or a capybara adjacent animal! The Smithsonian research visit was really interesting, and we even got to see a live bat (It was so cute) at the bat lab and also went to the “Death lab” where they study different types of tropical fungus and bacteria. I was able to get a pretty cool sticker that says “death lab” on it!  Our days have been so wonderfully full, and many times this week I got back to the rooms rather late after dinner and exploring Casco Viejo, thus the sleepless nights. However, it was definitely worth it and I’ve had such an amazing time!

When I first arrived here in Panama, it was dark but I could see the bright lights of Panama City from the plane, and it was so pretty. It’s also very hot here, but I think I’ve gotten used to it (I am not excited for the cold back in Alabama). Overall, I can recommend Panama to anyone who likes history, adventure and warm tropical weather. Here are some more of my pictures from this week!