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Panama Forever in our Hearts

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Divora M:
After hearing so many wonderful reports of friends trips to Panama we decided that we were going to go this year for the kids winter break vacation. I did many hours of research of Panama and felt fully prepared for the trip. We flew on UA nonstop from ORD to PTY for 17.5k  there and AA back for 15k with a stop in MIA.  Upon arriving in the PTY airport we were going to get an UBER but since it was like 90 degrees outside and we had all our bags and kids we opted to just take one of the cab companies right outside the airport doors for $30. We stayed at the Marriott Executive Apartments which I got for $61/day with their price match guarantee and then used my Barclay card and got reimbursed for the whole thing. I wanted a hotel that we would have a kitchen area, within the eruv and close to a shul. This hotel checked all the boxes and we were extremely happy with it. We had two queen size beds, a pull out couch that turned into a full size bed and another pull out bed that turned into a twin sized bed. Shevet Achim shul was a 7 minute walk from the hotel and there is a nice park down the block as well.

We arrived on Thursday and after checking into our hotel we took an UBER to Jeffreys Bakery. We got pizza, empanadas, pasta, Ike's salad (which was amazing!) cheesecake and gelato for dessert. We took another UBER to the Amador Causeway and were dropped off by a huge park for the kids to play in they also have a splash pad for kids to run around in. We then rented a family bike for $10/half an hour and biked down the causeway during sunset. Once we got back the kids went to the pool for a night time swim and we went out to eat at Aria, which was phenomenal!

Friday my DH went to Shevet Ahim shul for Shachris and gave our passports so we would be allowed to enter on Shabbos while I took the kids to Coffee Bean for breakfast. We met up in old city of Panama called Casco Viejo and had a private tour in english of the Presidential Palace. as we were leaving the Vice President of Panama came out of his car and gave us a nice wave After the tour we walked around the old city, bought some souvenirs and met Miss Paraguay doing a commercial in the square. We then took an UBER to DeliK and stocked up on food for the week and takeout food for Shabbos. We got back to our hotel and all went swimming until Shabbos.

Shabbos we all walked to shul together in the morning. They have security starting down the block and in front of the shuls entrances. It is a beautiful shul and the people are so friendly. My son even managed to find the candy man at shul even though he does not speak spanish. After shul my husband was approached by someone who asked if we would like to come to their home for shabbos lunch. We gladly accepted since all we were going to have for lunch was cold chicken nuggets. I was also very curious to hear more about the frum community in Panama. We had an amazing lunch and stayed for a good part of the afternoon, then they walked us back to our hotel and came up to our hotel room since our kids were the same ages and wanted to have a shabbos party. Once it was time for Mincha we walked my DH to shul and I went with my kids to the park until it was time for Shalosh Seudos which the shul hosts for the community. After hearing havdallah in shul we walked back to our hotel and my kids naturally grabbed their bathing suits and jumped in the pool. We went to Le Spezia for melva malka since we heard it was the best pizza in town and it did not disappoint. 

Sunday we went to Ancon Hill and hiked to the top. It is the tallest point in Panama City and you can see the flag from all over.
After the hike to cool off from the heat we went to the Multi Plaza mall and had Mrs. Fields' ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Our next stop was the Panama Canal at the Miraflores Locks. We got tickets for the IMAX (a must see) museum and observation deck. It was really cool to watch the ships pass through the locks and get raised and lowered just by the water pressure.
We met friends of our at Kava for dinner and it was very good.

Monday we were going to Pearl Islands so we needed to be at the Amador Causeway to get on the ferry by 7:30 am. The ferry ride is an hour and a half but it is very relaxing and even has a bathroom on the boat. Once we arrived at Cantadora we were greeted by Ilene and her husband and they got us all the snorkeling gear we needed and headed on out. They took us to three different deserted islands which we snorkeled, went fishing and relaxed on the beach. It was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. It was so nice having two tour guides since Ilene was able to stay back with my two younger kids while her husband took the rest of us out snorkeling in deeper water. Ilene showed my kids what hermit crabs are and they became a little obsessed with collecting them.
After Ilene dropped us off at Cantadora we ate lunch on the beach and explored the island. We got on the ferry leaving at 3:30 pm and were back in Panama City by 5 pm We went to Lula by Darna for dinner which was also really good.

Tuesday we had booked Monkey Island and Embrera Village with Alon Levy. He is the nicest guy I have ever worked with. He is so accommodating, patient and safety conscious. He picked us up from our hotel and we went to Monkey Island first where we saw three types of monkeys, a sloth up in a tree and two huge iguanas.
We then continued on the panama canal next to the huge ships to the village. We were greeted by the villagers and were showed around. The chief explained their history and how they live. I had brought a pot, oil and knife so they cooked us tilapia and fried plantains. It was a great lunch!
After we were dropped back at our hotel we went to Aria again for dinner.

Wednesday we went again with Alon to Anton Valley. It is a pretty long car ride to get there but it was worth it. We first went horseback riding through the beautiful mountain side. It was the first time my younger kids went horseback riding and they loved it. Water chestnut beds.
After horseback riding we went to a waterfall that you need to go over a very shaky bridge to get there. You can't go under the waterfall but there was a pool of water that is for swimming.

Once we were done swimming we went to see the Petroglyphs and then to the market. We were so exhausted from the day since we got back to our hotel at 7 pm we ordered from the kosher pty app food from Pita Plus and ate it poolside while the kids swam.

Thursday we were leaving and our flight was at 2 pm but we still had one more thing to do. We took an UBER to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort and went ziplining through the rainforest. It was just built in October 2019 and is $53/ per person for 10 lines which is cheaper and way better then the ziplining in Anton Valley. They were also having a promotion during the time we went that the videos and pictures the photographer took of us were free!
We headed back to our hotel, got our luggage and made it to the airport with time to stop at Coffee Bean for food for the plane ride home.

It was an incredible trip for our family and can't wait to go back!

Great TR, thanks! Canít wait to go back either.

really sounds awesome! tx for the informative and concise tr

Great TR!

Great TR & Pics!! You really managed to get it all in!!!

With all the amazing TR's Im scared Pamama will become the new Miami with all the midwinter crowds!!!!


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