Arrival in Panama (by Audrey)

The first thing we saw against the skyline was an array of skyscrapers, the buildings seemed artistic and modern. Some twisted and curved, the windows reflecting the city a million times. There were tall stylish apartment complexes with colorful balconies, each at a different angle. A huge Jumbo-Tron played commercials in the main city square. This was Panama City.

For the next week we stayed in the “old city,” Casco Viejo. We took Spanish lessons, found “the most amazing caramel ice cream in the world” and ate great food. Casco was fantastic. Everyone was friendly and the city was very beautiful. Most days were leisurely (and sweltering hot). Our Spanish improved vastly. We went from not knowing one word to being able to ask questions, order food or ask where something was.

One exciting thing was finding an aerial dance studio right next to our Spanish lessons. We went to one fabric lesson and learned two new poses and a climb. We were also able to teach the other students a few moves that we knew.

For our second week in Panama we went on a road trip to a beach town called Santa Catalina and then up into the mountains.

Our first morning in Santa Catalina we got up, and before breakfast headed to the beach. My brother and I body surfed and splashed around for a while. The water was warm and we had no problem jumping in. That afternoon my brother and I went horseback riding for an hour. We rode along the beach for about 15 minutes and then went up into the jungle. Ollie got clothes-lined and had and incredibly slow horse. The guide was not willing to wait for Oliver at all so Ollie was pretty much left behind.

The next day we went on an awesome snorkeling adventure where we saw a ton of wildlife. There were dolphins jumping by the boat for a while and then one humpback whale surfaced before we landed on the small island where we snorkeled for about an hour. We saw multiple sea turtles, sea stars, parrot fish (and a lot of other tropical fish), and a lobster. On the way to the next island (Coiba, of Coiba Marine Reserve) we saw two more humpbacks, a mom and her baby! When we got to Coiba Island we took a break for lunch and then hiked around a little. We saw the cutest little monkey (whom I dubbed “Jonathan”) on our way up to a look out point. He apparently was pretty used to people giving him food because that is just what he expected us to do.

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