We’ve been in Panama for 4 months and haven’t gone anywhere. We have always traveled frequently. In fact, we had to renew our last passports six years early because we ran out of pages. Now we have the expanded model with lots of pages. For the last year or so we’ve only gone back and forth between Florida and Panama. Except for our border hop to Paso Canoas we’ve only been in Panama. It was time for a real trip.
In all of our travels, we have barely touched Latin America and none of South America. We chose a quick trip to Guatemala after reading another blogger’s report about Antigua.
Antigua is OLD by New World standards. It was built in the 16th and 17th centuries and then destroyed by an earthquake. The town is beautiful. I was really surprised when we arrived to cobblestone roads and Moroccan type architecture. There are beautiful hotels and great restaurants. They also have a large marketplace. This is a tourist destination and it shows. There are people selling stuff everywhere.
We took some day trips. About an hour away is the Santa Teresita Spa. The facility is beautiful. It has pools of hot water (from the nearby volcano) and really cold water. Then we got massages. I opted to also get a coffee and chocolate scrub which was fantastic. By the time we had lunch and drove home, it took almost all day.
We also took a tourist bus, instead of the chicken bus, to Panajachel, a town on a large lake. The drive was not for the faint of heart. Two and a half hours of sheer terror knowing we faced exactly the same on the return trip. But we made it safely. We tried to get a boat to one of the smaller towns on the lake but we were unsuccessful. Because it is slow season, it seems that boat owners increase prices for a short ride from $3-4 to $40. That would be per person, one way. We declined and stayed in town to shop. But we found the same business philosophy in the markets too. Prices for tourist blankets, purses, shirts etc. were much higher than in Antigua. We saved our shopping for Antigua.
While we were gone, our attorney informed us that our Pensionado, permanent residency papers, were ready. Since we had to fly through Panama City to return home, we stayed an extra day in Panama City and got that done too.