Central America

Panama: More Than A Gateway

Panama has long been a safe harbor for adventurers, schemers, and those with a piratical turn of mind.–Amy Wilentz

The tiny nation of Panama is a small Central American country primarily known for its famous canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s capitol, Panama City, is often referred to as the “gateway to the world.” Although the famous canal is front and center in the minds of most people, there is much more to see than just the Canal de Panama.

Panama City is a modern metropolis that has a lot to offer visitors. The city has beautiful scenic views and a spectacular skyline, while a plethora of historical landmarks, vibrant restaurants, shops and cafes await to be explored by visitors.

However, Panama is a nation of extremes.

The capitol city has the same modern advantages of any city in the global north. Public water fountains deliver safe drinking water, and the bathroom facilities are well kept; yet, a short drive outside of the metropolitan area, and the typical sites of a developing nation are present.

The further away from Panama City a person gets and the worse the conditions become. The bathroom facilities are less stellar and basic creature comforts disappear too. Small rusted rooftop shacks pepper the landscape while outdated cars, trucks, and equipment waste away along poorly kept roads and fields.

However, once a person travels outside of the sphere of Panama City’s influence, about 60-miles. Scenic pristine tropical jungles await visitors willing to leave the comfort of the city behind.

To see Panama’s extremes for yourself, A Crow’s View suggest traveling to San Blas. This small tropical island chain is part of the Archipelago’s islands. They are about a four-hour trip from Panama City. That includes a 4×4 ride along rugged off road trails and a boat ride.

This trip will allow a person to see the awesome beauty of Panama’s mountains, jungles, and the tropical Archipelago’s islands of the Atlantic ocean. You will even meet some native San Blas residence that are a pseudo-independent nation within Panama.

In the words of Gustave Flaubert, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”


San Pedro, Belize: A Paradise In The Making

IMG_1273It is not more vacation we need – it is more vocation–Eleanor Roosevelt

A Crow’s View visited Ambergris Caye (pronounced Am-bur-griss Key), Belize last September. This island is Belize’s largest Caye and is the home of San Pedro township. IMG_1225

San Pedro rests along the coastline and is protected by a reef a few hundred feet from the shoreline. The city lacks a nightlife scene that is offered at the more touristy spots in Belize. But what it lacks in nightlife, San Pedro makes up in other areas. For example, it is home of the second largest barrier reef in the world; also, island guests can choose from snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing trips offered by local businesses. Combination packages are available that range from day trips, which includes lunch, scenic tours, and/or visiting the Great Blue Hole, to hiking tours that take you to uninhabited portions of Ambergris Caye.

If relaxation is what a person is seeking, you will find it here. San Pedro offers a laid back island-atmosphere that is complimented with beautiful vistas of the ocean. There are plenty of local shops, bars, and restaurants to pass the time at.  IMG_1236 A particularly intersting aspect of San Pedro is a tourist can buy fresh seafood from a fisherman; then take it to a local restaurant to have it cooked.

The Ambergris Brewing Company is one such business that offered this service. For a low price you will have your fish cooked to your liking and get a choice of side dishes to go with your order. If you choose to just pass the time and relax with a drink. A tropical view is always close by. IMG_1244IMG_1246

If you want a fast-paced touristy experience, then go to Caye Caulker or some other Belizian site. If you want a more relaxed experience (and less spendy), A Crow’s View suggest giving San Pedro a try. It’s still at the phase where you get a balance of great dining experiences, recreational activities, and sensible prices. IMG_1257