View of farm in the Azuero.

Church in Chitre

Rush hour in the Azuero.

The taxi to Isla Caña

The hired car watchman in Laguira, the launch town for Isla Grande

The view from Isla Grande

Portobello locals


The fort and customs house of Portobello.

We spent the last week cruising around in a rental car with Stuart, an Australian we met in Nicaragua, Bridget, his Panamanian girlfriend and Bram an American friend of theirs who´s studying in Panama City. Stuart was traveling down from Mexico handing out flyers for the hostel he owns in Panama City when we met and discussed our plans. We decided to team up, rent a car and explore beach towns that may be in need of a good guest house. The driving was great thanks to the good roads in Panama and the beautiful scenery. We saw a good deal of the Azuero Peninsula which is known as the heartland of Panama with its frequent traditional celebrations and Spanish colonial architecture. We stopped in various towns on the western side of the peninsula often turning down side roads to check out the beaches. Aside from the occasional surfer they are pretty empty with nice views of nearby islands and long stretches of a black, brown or baige sand. We spent one night on Isla Caña searching for sea turtles who come annually to bury their eggs in the sand. Unfortunately, it´s a little early in the season and we weren´t lucky enough to see any. From an island in the Pacific we drove all the way to an island in the Caribbean. It was a long day, but the beach waiting for us on Isla Grande was well worth it. On our last day we wandered around Portobello and Nombre de Dios, two of the first settled areas in the Americas. Portobello has several pieces of an old fortress that sit right on the water and an old customs house that saw much of the gold collected in Panama before it was shipped to Spain. For now we are on to Mexico, but we are content to know that Panama has some great possibilities. Órale.