There were so many wonderful moments to write about while we were in Panama — and if I had my way, I would probably write till Part 15. But seeing that our trip ended almost 4 weeks ago, it is time to start looking ahead again. So here we are, with a couple final tales from Panama—and a whole ton of pictures to document all the other moments I could have waxed poetic about for days.
This is the view from Casco Viejo, located in the southwest part of Panama City.
Waking up in Casco, you open your windows to the old streets outside; children with soccer balls are chasing each other, and getting ready to go out and play in the early morning. They live with their families just across the way from our quaint boutique hotel, Las Clementinas. True to its name, there are little clementine trees perched on every balcony that overlooks the old city.
Immediately, one notices the polarities in this place. There is a stark contrast between rich + poor, old + new that exists in this town more than anywhere we’ve been to thus far.
Like a sweet & salty combination, the polarity is part of the aesthetic that visitors crave. The rumor is going around: travelers can find beauty in unexpected places here...and it's true.
I open the blinds to the hotel room and smile as we wave at the kids with the soccer balls. They leave their ground floor home and run off to the pier to play.
Turning to my right, a clementine tree. It reminds me of at least one shining similarity that connects all parts of society here: the fruits.
Fruit perches between the social classes, shining brightness and color into each and every polarity. The fruit is something that all people here celebrate, sometimes even together.
And here we are among them—Las Clementinas in Casco Viejo—this beautiful boutique hotel that itself stands for the balance of old + new, rich + poor. Built inside the crumbling buildings of Old Casco preserved—new vines and Clementines sprout from the deteriorating walls. Beauty truly is in unexpected places.
And the magic isn't only the fruits themselves—which admittedly, are abnormally bright and juicy in Latin America—but it’s also the trees from which they grow; and they grow everywhere. Both in slums and in palace backyards—to the trees, there is no difference. They simply sprout up and pulse with life—just like people.
On the very first night in Panama, right after landing, we made a quick pit-stop at Natalia’s grandfather’s house before heading to Playa Chumico. There, waiting to greet us, was a tall…(very tall!) papaya tree that sits right near the balcony, like a friend that never leaves. We laughed over stories of Abuelo protecting his friend from birds and bats that fly by trying to eat his fruit…and there may or may not have been pellet guns involved… yikes!
But all this points to the notion that fruits + their trees have a sacred feel in Panamanian culture, and it appears to be one of the similarities that connect all the people together here. So much so, that it’s one of the strongest art motifs in Latin America:
Las Clementinas and Old Casco became our home base from Friday, January 22nd and onward through the rest of the trip. We spent the weekend exploring the town—with its new renovations peeking out of the most beautiful city ruins you’ve ever seen. We learned that it's also an artist’s paradise—packed with galleries and up and coming restaurants (food art!). The writing, and the poetry, are literally on the walls. This much of it reminded us of Paris, with a Latin American flare.
The rooms in Las Clementinas were rented for the wedding party—all the American girlfriends and their husbands and fiances and boyfriends together under one large roof. We came from New York, San Francisco, and Arizona.
The wedding took place over the weekend just down the street from the hotel. We danced and ate and drank and laughed about all the luck we had to be together for this incredible event.
Since the trip, a lot has developed for our minimalist-nomad story and I can’t wait to start sharing pieces of it.
Need a teaser? The month of March is our last month living in New York City for the foreseeable future. GASP! It's actually happening. Stay tuned for more juice as our freedom takes effect—I'll be charting our territory here. :)
As always, thanks for reading! Can’t wait to get lost out there in there world, altogether.