Travelling in Panama with a 1-Year-Old

Everyone said our travelling days were over when our baby "Spud" arrived. It’s true that we don’t travel as much. But we’re determined to find ways to continue to enjoy travelling. Our first trip with a baby was to Panama. Two weeks of rest, relaxation, exploring, learning, and first words!

Travelling in Panama with a 1-Year-Old

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by boosh on June 30, 2006

Our 2-week trip in Panama with our one-year-old. Friends and family said we were crazy. And those who didn’t say it, thought it. Maybe we are.${QuickSuggestions} It turns out it's pretty easy to travel in Panama with a little one. The grocery stores carry all your basic baby needs, including all the diaper stuff you're used to, and even the organic jarred baby food you get at your health food store at home. We avoided malarial areas because we didn't want to give our little guy pills. We decided to use a baby back pack carrier instead of a stroller and we opted out of bringing a car seat. And for baby sleeping quarters we brought a small pup tent that could be sealed with mossy net. These are all considerations parents will have to face when planning a trip here.${BestWay} We didn't cover a lot of ground but we found that renting a car was the easiest way to go to nearby towns. In Panama City, taxis are convenient and inexpensive.

La Estancia

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by boosh on July 1, 2006

This place was perfect for us travelling with the little one. The two suites downstairs have large kitchens. A/C. Cute outdoor patios where you can see the sloth, giant guinea pig type rodents, and listen to the billion birds. The hosts were extremely helpful with all of our travel needs such as renting cars etc. Our little one LOVED the staff who ogled him at breakfast or whenever we went up to the common area. Really great people. The only possible downside is that it's on Ancon Hill which isn't centrally located. A 10- or 15-minute taxi will take you to the city core or to Old Panama. The plus side is that you are in a rainforest. You can walk up the hill to the top and see the canal not to mention all the wildlife along the way.
La Estancia
Casa 35, Calle Amelia Denis de Icaza, Quarry Heights
Cerro Ancon, Panama
(507) 314-1581

Mi Ranchito Restaurante

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by boosh on August 13, 2006

The three of us ventured out in our rental car along the causeway to have dinner at Mi Ranchitos [Resort La Playita, Amador]. It was a fantastic time. We ate outdoors, under a thatched roof and enjoyed live music. We ate a massive amount of seafood in what was called a "Seafood Casserole". We also had ceviche mixto for a delicious appy.

There were loads of families dining there but it still had a sort of romantic ambience. The little guy was kept busy by flirting with the little girl at the next table and clapping along with the band until it was time to leave.

Mi Ranchito Restaurante
Resort La Playita, Amador Causeway
Panama City, Panama
(0)228 4909

Miraflores Canal

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by boosh on July 1, 2006

Had a fabulous time at the canal. The cabby charged us $8 when we got there. He asked for $10 and from what I’ve read it should cost $5. We paid it without a fuss though. Then we declined his offer to stick around and wait for us for a cool $25. He told us that there would be no cabs waiting for us when we came out. We took our chances. In fact there was a very kind and helpful driver there when we were done. And he only charged us $4! Anyway, spectacular day. A highlight of our trip so far. We had lunch at the Canal restaurant and it was delicious. We were told later that we were very lucky to see a big ship go through the lock, and we saw two! The first boat we saw had to pay $80,000 to get through the whole canal. It’s based on weight and type of vessel. We also saw a couple of sailboats and a few tugs too. The restaurant is on the second level of the Tourist Building and overlooks the canal. The weather was perfect. Warm, with a nice breeze. Of course, still muggy, but that’s a given. The restaurant had a high chair for the little guy and he did pretty well all along. Before lunch we took in the canal museum which was cool. It even had stuff to interest Spud, like fish and turtles in the aquariums. Anyway, the whole day was relaxing and charming and cute. We’re having fun.
Canalside at Miraflores Locks
25 minutes North West
Panama City, Panama

To Car Seat or Not

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by boosh on June 30, 2006

When planning this trip, there was great debate on whether or not to pack the car seat. In the end it seemed so impractical it ended up on the leave-behind-list. Instead, our little treasure is securely fastened into his child back carrier. We can’t figure out a way to fasten him to the seat. All we can manage is to wrap the strap around each one of our arms, hold on tight, and hope for the best. Once faced with this I asked myself repeatedly if we were being irresponsible. Could we have asked the driver to wait while we install it in the back? Probably. Could we walk around downtown toting it around all day? Yuck. Could we find another driver willing to pick us up to get back to our lodgings? Risky. In the end, it didn't seem to jive with our style of travel.

Casco Viejo [Old Panama]

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by boosh on June 30, 2006

We took a cab to Plaza Francia [France Square] which is in Old Panama. "Don’t go past 10th Street" they told us. "You must not walk through El Chorillo". As we drove through the neighbourhood, I could see why. It had all the signs of a depressed, desperate place. My greatest fear is that what I saw was actually our destination. My mantra went something like this: "Please don’t drop us off here. Please don’t drop us off here." and "Please don’t let this be Casco Viejo. Please don’t let this be Casco Viejo". I’m sure I would have felt similarly if we were without child but having our little 13-month-old bundle of preciousness with us made the situation that much more intense.

Thankfully the the taxi driver drives on and in moments we are at our intended destination...and it’s gorgeous. It reminded us a bit of Havana only much smaller and in better condition. The ocean is misty and almost deserted, save a few mild-mannered indigenous folk selling carvings, jewellery, tapestry, weaving etc. The Square is dedicated to the 22,000 workers who lost their lives in making the canal. The view from the very tip of the old city is stunning. Through the mist we can see the New City, the Pacifico, and Ancon Hill, where were staying.

We happened upon a 20m long bouganvaillea arch which is amazing but a little broken down. More people selling their wares here. The soft sell is so sweet and I wanted to buy something but it seems too early to start acquiring stuff. Much of the colonial architecture is really in ruins and there is a lot of poverty in the area. The kind that really makes your heart sick. Sad small doorways open onto the skinny sidewalk. Inside is dark and sparse and grimy and sad. Some of the old buildings are beautifully restored. In general, the area is smaller than I would have thought. After 45 minutes we saw most of it. Spud saw none of it as he was lulled to sleep on daddy’s back the whole way. His sweet curls wet with humidity are pressed on his head.

When he wakes up we take a cookie break in Cathedral Square. The little guy is sweating quite a bit but he knows to drink a lot so I’m not too worried and there are no signs of dehydration.

There’s a noticeable lack of harassment here and it’s hard to get used to. The ‘hello’s are quite genuine, without hidden agendas of selling or conning.

Next we went to the Canal Museum which was well done but we had to rush because by that time our little traveller was getting restless.

We found a cute restaurant for lunch. I had sancocho [Panama’s national dish, chicken and veggie stew] and Spud liked it too.

After lunch we happened upon a taxi with glorious A/C and Spud fell asleep as he usually does. Aside from the driver getting us lost and almost killing us as he aggressively crossed 3 lanes of traffic, the trip home was pretty uneventful.

Isla Taboga

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by boosh on July 10, 2006

A 45-minute boat ride on the Calypso Princess that made Spud a little clingy ($5 per person, one-way). Our first day on this island, yesterday, wasn’t so good since we were feeling a little off and everything to do with the boy seemed difficult. We have no kitchen in our room and we discovered there is no hot water which makes it difficult to bathe the boy. Today was much better. We had good naps and managed to get the boy to eat quite a variety of foods including half a plantain which we were later told by Nino, our odd but likable host, should only be eaten cooked and would be very bad for a baby raw. Well so far no problems. Hopefully Spud’s pipes hold up.

Things we’ve enjoyed here, fire works on Fisherman’s day, the regular tiny ring of the church bell, the gorgeous and ubiquitous bougainvalia, the whole fried fish with fried yucca, ketchup and hot sauce, big yummy shrimp, warm rain, passion fruit con secco (Panamanian alcoholic beverage).

Other things on the island: backward expats, mosquitoes at dusk, and serious water shortage.

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