Lunch at Tapa included tostones (fried green plantains), jerk chicken, rice and beans, coconut mussels, cod fritters with blackberry sauce, and a house beer called Tiny Winey. Isaac’s favorite is the popular A Colonense Jar, a rice dish that includes everything from dried shrimp and salted pigtail fish. “The One Pot is the type of meal our grandmothers would prepare for Sunday food after church service and the leftovers will be eaten for breakfast the next day. It is one of the highest expressions of love and happiness in our homes, ”he added. At Tapa, I remembered my own grandmother’s recipes and all the ways food can taste like love when created with thoughtful hands.
After lunch, I started a tour with Truly Panama, a Panamanian-led company that focuses on sustainable and authentic travel across the country. We visit a few small business owners, including an art store called Karavan that showcases the work of Indigenous artists. Other Truly Panama tours include a visit to the country’s Caribbean coast to Portobelo National Park, where you can relax on secluded beaches and snorkel amid protected coral reefs teeming with marine life.
Then it was time to trade the city for the countryside. I was on my way to an isolated island passing by David, a western town lined with orchards and slower streets. A 10-minute boat ride from Boca Chica takes you to Isla Palenque, a 400-acre private retreat where you go when you’re ready for the simple wonders of nature’s stillness. Part of Cayuga Collection’s sustainable hotels and lodges, the property sits in Chiriquí Bay, surrounded by calm waves lapping velvety black sand. The sunsets here are so spectacular and spectacular that your camera will never really capture them, try as you can.
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