Coast to coast, Panama

One is wild, the other is sulfurous. Follow Baptiste Picard-Deyme, your guide for this expedition along the Panamanian coasts.

The Caribbean sea on one side, the Pacific ocean on the other. Two coasts, two oceans, different dialects and different atmospheres. Each one of them has its own singularity. Get on board for a Panamanian coast-to-coast trip.

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After a few hours bus drive travelling from the capital, we take a first stop at Anton station, a small village crossed by the Pan-American, the country’s main artery. Here the young people of the village fix backpacks on top of buses after school for a few balboas. Our first step is located at the tip of Veraguas peninsula. The change of scene and atmosphere is radical : the pace is peaceful, far from the urban tumult of the city. Once outside of the jungle and while reaching coast, we are entering a small village called Santa Catalina. Back in the days, the narcos from the sea wind used to meet at Santa’s beaches. Today, though the climate has “calmed down”, the region still offers that atypical atmosphere.

A few hundred yards away from Coiba National Park and its 38 heavenly coral islands where turtles, sharks and rays exist side by side, this small fisherman hamlet was discovered later in life by a few occidental surfers, most of whom never left it. This being the case of Julien, our host, a gifted Basque longboarder who doesn’t miss his hometown Bilbao and the Bay of Biscay at all. In the morning, we are awaken by the muffled sound of mangos striking the ground of our shack’s terrace. Later, the sound of the waves will sooth our nights.

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For its parts, Bocas del Toro archipelago is the most Caribbean of the regions of Panama. Upon arriving at Isla Colon, capital of the province,  you fall in love with the long enfilades of colorful houses. Yellow, green, blue, red, there’s one for everyone’s taste. Explorations by pirogues in the heart of the mangrove, hostels on stilts, delicious sea food and local rums degustation, we couldn’t have dreamed better of this Venice from Antilles.

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