After almost six months of being trapped in Boquete, Panama I was definitely ready to move on. There were pretty limited travel options from Panama at the time and the idea of house sitting in Panama City had never occurred to me. It was a toss-up between Mexico and Ecuador. Ecuador wanted a $200 Covid-19 test to enter. Mexico wanted nothing. But I had never been to Ecuador before. Ecuador it was.
When the hospital in David, Panama refused to do a Covid test until 2 days before I wanted to travel I had to re-think my plans.
Weekends gave you plenty of time to think in Panama. A complete lockdown of the whole country was in effect every weekend even six months after the pandemic had started.
Something I had never thought about was house sitting in Panama City. That weekend a listing for a sit popped up un Trustedhousesitters and I applied.
As the airport in Panama had been closed for almost 6 months now, I was the only applicant and I was soon to be on my way to Panama City.
How did I get to Panama City?
Even domestic travel was still not allowed in Panama. So how could I get to Panama City? You needed a Salvo Conducto (travel permit) to travel between provinces. You also needed a valid reason for travel to get one of these. I booked myself a humanitarian flight with United to Miami, got the confirmation e-mail on my phone, and then applied for my permit. Once I had submitted my application at MINSA (Department of Health) I went home and canceled the ticket free of charge.
Buying a bus ticket was also a challenge. In David it seems that nobody knows anything about anything. You cannot buy tickets on-line. Even though the buses leave the bus station you can’t actually buy a ticket there. There was also only one bus a day to Panama City during the Covid pandemic so I definitely wanted to buy a ticket in advance.
I persevered and finally managed to find somebody who knew where the ticket office was located. I paid $15.25 for a bus ticket for the following week, and now it was time to enjoy my last week in Boquete.
House sitting in Panama City had never really appealed to me. I took the sit in Panama City mostly out of convenience for me. The homeowners hadn’t given much information or photos in their listing. Normally that would be a red flag for me, but I needed to do something to get on the road again.
Well, I was wrong about the red flag thing. After an 8 hours bus ride from David, I finally arrived in the big city. I was going to be staying in a 39th-floor luxury apartment in the most exclusive neighborhood in Panama City for the next 3 weeks. Oh, and it had a great dog named Morris to go along with it!
The apartment was one of the smallest in the building. It was only 3000sqft/300sqmt! Some would be twice that size taking up a whole floor, one apartment even took up two whole floors.
The apartment itself was beautiful but I spent very little time in it. I spent most of my time outside on the balcony. I ate every meal outside, drank wine out there, worked on the computer out there, even napped out there. There was no need to leave home to get great photographs of the city with the amazing view I had at home.
I must admit that there were a couple of negative sides to the apartment as well. Firstly, the live-in maid/chef also took a vacation, it would have been amazing to keep her around. The second was taking Morris out to pee before bedtime. It was a 39 floor elevator journey each way for him to do his business!
What did I do in Panama City?
Panama had some of the tightest restrictions in the world for Covid-19. Only essential services and businesses were allowed to open still at this time. That makes for a pretty boring city. No restaurants, bars or even coffee shops were open. All museums and any tourist attractions were closed. Even buying a much needed new pair of shoes was quite a challenge.
So what did I do for 3 weeks? I walked Morris. That was my primary activity every day and we both enjoyed it.
Morris had definitely gained a few kilos during his quarantine period and needed some exercise. We would often walk 20+ km on most days. Most of our walks would be on the nearby coastal walkway, La Costa Cintera. In the mornings and evenings, the place was buzzing with, dog walkers, runners, cyclists, and rollerbladers. It really made for some great
senorita people watching.
Not only was it great people watching, but it was also one of the best places to see the sunrise and sunset in the city.
There were many great spots to stop and check out the view of the city skyline. This became a daily ritual for us. Some mornings we headed out at 5 am to catch the sunrise. Other days at 5 pm to catch the sunset. Sometimes both. Anytime in between that, the Cinta Costera would be quiet due to the heat of the day.
About 1 1/2 hours walking form the apartment was one of the highlights of Panama City, Casco Viejo. The UNESCO World Heritage sight is normally of of the most popular attractions in the city. There are many cool boutique hotels, great restaurants, roof top bars, and plenty of shopping.
This was not the case during my visit. The old town was deserted. I was the only tourist in town. All businesses were closed down, only a mini-market, and a hairdresser remained open. I couldn’t even get a cold beer or an ice cream. It was nice not to have lots of other tourists ruining my photos, but it was kind of sad to see such a beautiful place so empty.
There are many other attractions in this city but to be honest, I wasn’t too upset about not being able to see or do them. I was quite content exploring the city with Morris, taking photos, and relaxing on the balcony at home. It would have been nice to be able to go out to eat or for a cold beer. But when you have a nice place to stay and a great supermarket a block away, I was quite content just staying at home. In fact I only ate and drank at one restaurant during my 6 1/2 month stay in Panama!
I know Panama has much more to offer than what I saw during my stay in Boquete and Panama City, but it was just not meant to be this time. I know that I will be back again one day and hopefully things we will be back to normal by then.
Have you ever been to Panama City. Did you enjoy it? What should I see and do on my next visit?