Today is January 30th, 2019 and it is my first full day at Playa Venao, my third (and final) destination in Panama. Playa Venao is a small beach town on the Pacific side of Panama. While not as well traveled as its Atlantic-side counterpart (Las Bocas del Toro), it is just as beautiful and doesn’t have as many tourists
I FINALLY made it to my last destination; Playa Venao. You would understand why I overexaggerated the word “finally” if you knew the work if you knew the work that I put myself through to get here. Before I get to my chicken bus nightmare, I will tell you about my remaining time in Boquete. It turns out that hiking Volcan Baru on the first day was not a great idea. I had planned on seeing The Lost Waterfalls in Los Naranjos but unfortunately did not regain feeling in my lower extremities until yesterday. I literally spent my last day in Boquete on the patio of my hotel staring at the beautiful landscape. I did utilize the free shuttle to go down to town to restock on water but that was pretty much the highlight of the day.
I originally was going to go to Las Bocas Del Toro, a well-known destination here in Panama but I changed my mind after talking to a friend who used to live here. She told me that Las Bocas was pretty tourist heavy and “trashy”. The tourist aspect was confirmed because everyone I met in my hotel was in fact going to Las Bocas. Another consideration was that Playa Venao was closer to Panama City which meant I wasn’t going to be stuck on a bus for 10 hours trying to come back for my flight. Despite my decision to go to Playa Venao, I didn’t really know how to get there other than what I had read on the internet forums (which wasn’t much).
Yesterday, I woke up at 600 AM to begin my journey to Playa Venao. I paid the same driver who took me to Volcan Baru $5 USD to take me a mile to the bus stop where I got on a bus to David ($1.65 USD). An hour and half later, I was on my way to Santiago ($9 USD) which took about 4 hours. Once I got to Santiago, things began to get pretty stupid. I had to take a taxi ($1 USD) to another bus terminal to take a bus to Chitre, which was literally 35 kms away ($3 USD). From Chitre, I had to take a bus to Las Tablas which was about 25 km away ($1.50 USD). Once I got to Las Tablas, I had to walk about 2 km uphill with my backpack to get to the next bus station where I caught the bus to Pedasi ($2.40 USD). Once I got to Pedasi, I had to wait 40 minutes to take the last shuttle to Playa Venao ($5 USD). I arrived at my hotel at 5 PM last night after SIX chicken buses and two taxis which cost me $29 USD and 9 hours of my life. Outside of the first bus, none of them went more than 40 kms. After a long day of traveling, I had my favorite meal (pollo asado, papas fritas y arroz) at a local spot called La Bicicleta for about $11 USD (including tip) before settling into bed.
This morning the weather was perfect. While the northeast United States was getting hammered by snowstorms and sub-artic conditions, it was 82 degrees with a slight breeze. That alone made coming here worth it. I was also able to get a 3.5-mile nice run in on the beach, which also means that I have functional legs again. I was also able to find a $5 Yoga class that runs every night. The only downside is public transportation is few and far between and there was no ATM in the town meaning I have to reserve the last little bit of cash that I have. However, the best part of this place is there are virtually no tourists (probably because its such a pain to get to), which will make this week a truly relaxing experience.
This will be my last post until I leave Panama next Monday (barring some drastic change in my circumstances), not because I don’t want to write but I don’t really plan on doing anything worth writing about the next 3 days. My days will mostly consist of doing a morning run, spending the next 5 hours rotating between laying on the beach and swimming, and finishing with an evening Yoga session. While I won’t blog, I will post pictures and videos as the opportunity arises. With that being said, the computer is going off so that I can start my real vacation. See you again on the 4th.