Semana Santa - Panama 2012

We saw several types of toucans during our trip. These are the Keel Billed Toucans. Sometimes when I take pictures it doesn't seem like you really get to see that they are real so I thought a little video would help!

Panama was not what we had expected from the hype but we had a good time regardless. I already sent the tourism minister a letter with my suggestions of modern bathrooms in the airport - they were like a Greyhound bus terminal in the 1960s; pick up the trash - it was everywhere we went, land and sea, city and countryside; make a decent map with the tourist attractions actually located on it; and put up some signs - there wasn't even a sign to the Panama Canal for heavens sake.

Our first stop was in Casco Viejo which is an older part of the city that is being restored. The wooden structures have all decayed, but the buildings are being rebuilt with the old foundations. It was a cool mix of styles and colors. Panama City is expensive so we stayed at a hostel which was sufficient, though more like a room in a mental hospital with a bathroom - cold water of course - that required stepping over the toilet to get into the shower. The industrial fan though did drown out the beatnik bongos and other rooming house noises. You can see some of the structures below on the streets of Casco Viejo.


The Panama Canal was a really interesting place to visit and we learned a lot while we were there. I didn't know that it was originally started by the French and then they gave up and went home after a lot of digging. The guide said they get about 30-40 ships through a day and they are almost ready to open up a new lane that will take more and bigger ships. You could see ships all day at both ends waiting to get into the locks. From one ocean to the other was about a 8-10 hour trip.

The locks at Miraflores


Of course we saw lots of new and old birds as we traveled through el Valle del Anton and out into the national parks. If you ever have the desire to see birds, I recommend hiring a guide at least once in your travels because you would be amazed at what you walk right by that they are tuned into. For all the influence I would have thought the US would have had in Panama, it was actually nice not to see a lot of American fast food and other businesses; Guatemala has about 10x as much.

Crimson-backed Tanager

Red-legged Honey Creeper

Female Crimson-backed Tanager

White necked Jacobin hummingbird

Rufus - Black-throated Trogon

The river that flows into the lake that connects the two oceans

Part of the city at Panama Viejo

We went out to the island of Taboga for the day and enjoyed the beach, but not the jellyfish. They do make a pretty picture though. It was a much better option that the beach towns where hordes of people head for the break and you can't even see the ocean through the crowds.

Town of Taboga

Part of the old fort at Portobello

These are the nests of the Oro Pedulums, a large yellow and black bird which are crazy to watch. They sound like dripping water and dive at their nests or others, I'm not sure which or why, and make quite the racket. The video clip below may give you a little idea.

Long-tailed Hermit hummingbird

Broadbilled Motmot

The jellyfish lined the beach like survivors from a shipwreck. We saw several long tailed hummingbirds but they were hard to get pictures of. The ones in the forest reminded me of what people probably thought were fairies when they first saw them because they really seemed magical. When you are out in nature and you haven't seen another person in hours you really start to get the feel of what it would have been like in early times or even in the Garden of Eden with no one but you and God around.

The old and the new

Hummingbird taking a showre


It really is amazing the variety of birds in the world and the creative coloring that God used to make them unique. The toucans are my favorites because of their colors and the unusual look and sounds that they have. The toucan below looks like something from a cartoon or scary movie!

The Aracari Toucan

The three-toed sloth with a hidden baby

Hanging out with mom

Damsel fly

The sloths were moving in the trees above us and it was so cool to watch as they went in slow motion from one branch to the other with their big hairy arms. The Damselfly, unlike the Dragonfly, rests with its wings closed.

Enjoying the rain

Webpage design and production and photographs by Cathleen L. Carpenter Photography - copyright 2012
page last updated 4/11/2012