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midtown

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So with SE Asia looking less and less likely this year due to their cases starting to climb I expect I'll need to look at another destination.   After Cambodia and Laos my next targeted country was going to be Panama.    They look to be about as open as can be.   Anyone have any recs? insights? itinerary?  I also might want to look at expat areas for retirement to contrast with Costa Rica.  Odds are Ill go solo but might be able to add a friend or two.  

Edited by midtown
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goto that bar that had many hot Columbian / Venezuelan women dancing on a 3 tier stage in white g strings and Santa hats. about 2 blocks from the casino. 

they were all 10's and 9's. easily 

Edited by tx 3 putt
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1 hour ago, midtown said:

So with SE Asia looking less and less likely this year due to their cases starting to climb I expect I'll need to look at another destination.   After Cambodia and Laos my next targeted country was going to be Panama.    They look to be about as open as can be.   Anyone have any recs? insights? itinerary?  I also might want to look at expat areas for retirement to contrast with Costa Rica.  Odds are Ill go solo but might be able to add a friend or two.  

I presume the hookers are as open as can be?

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Colon is the shitiest shithole I’ve come across in Central America. Don’t go there. The canal tour is interesting and there is a ton to do in Panama City. Haven’t been in about 6 years so really can’t recall restaurant names. I have friends that built a house and moved to the Boquete/David area. They’ve got a full time maid, chef and gardener/handyman that they pay a total of like 1200 a month. It’s definitely cheaper than CR.

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I went to Panama City for a few days at the end of a trip to Costa Rica in 2016, just to take a cruise through the Panama Canal and go to the Canal museum.  It took the entire day to go through the Canal, but I found it worth it. If you are into modern marvels. :)

And yes, going through Colon on the bus ride back to Panama City was a little terrifying.  That town looked trashy to say the least. 

 

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Flights look pretty good.  $500. 

 I'm going to spend the wknd watching travel videos and read up on an itinerary.   Boca del Toro looks good.   Looks like a good place to fish @justhookit

I hear a half day canal tour is plenty.    Some type of coffee tour would be cool.   Looks like a great place to eat too.

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To get to Bocas, either bus (not for me I like to be in control), rent a car (we have done this), or catch the the flight from the other airport.  Outbound to Bocas schedule isn't always convenient (unless they've changed the schedules).   Fishing is good, our team shirt hangs in Loco Toro.  Good spot for gringo sports and beer.  American dollar and Balboa is the standard currency, either are used.  English is secondary, but you can usually find someone easily to get your point across. You can water taxi just about anywhere. Almirante is the closest mainland town to Bocas. 420 is easy to score if you are into it.  Pacific side is cooler and less bugs than the Caribbean side.  There are some familiar things on the mainland, Home Depot, KFC, etc. but not on Bocas.  Quality of hardware items aren't always the best for home repair.  Last time I was there plans had been made to expand the airport and build a new hospital.  There is some crime on the islands and from my point of view it seems local law doesn't seem to interested in applying the law.  Panama offers the "pensioniado" card, which entitles you the gringo to some discounts on travel, entertainment, and food.  If you get a car and drive and wonder what is happening behind the motels with the high walls around 'em.  I can tell ya'  that's where one would go to pound town with someone else other than your spouse.  Yes, there is a back gate out so no one will see ya' leaving.   Yes, you can own a gun there and you can own the land.  No 99 year leases anymore.  Lula's is a good B&B on the island, but right now you can get apartments, condos and private homes for super duper cheap.  My wife follows some facebook group and is always trying to twist my arm to go back.  If I think of anything else I'll post later.

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17 hours ago, midtown said:

Flights look pretty good.  $500. 

 I'm going to spend the wknd watching travel videos and read up on an itinerary.   Boca del Toro looks good.   Looks like a good place to fish @justhookit

I hear a half day canal tour is plenty.    Some type of coffee tour would be cool.   Looks like a great place to eat too.

I know nothing about the fishing there. Just have heard it’s a fun place to go kick back and party with tourists from all over the world. If you go to Panama be sure and read this https://www.amazon.com/Path-Between-Seas-Creation-1870-1914/dp/0671244094/ref=asc_df_0671244094_nodl/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312039872799&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12652064038015610173&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028131&hvtargid=pla-625528053792&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=62149175916&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312039872799&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12652064038015610173&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9028131&hvtargid=pla-625528053792 before you go.

if that didn’t work the book is The Path Between The Seas.

Edited by justhookit
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On 6/4/2021 at 5:23 PM, Bevo&Pevo said:

If you get a car and drive and wonder what is happening behind the motels with the high walls around 'em.  I can tell ya'  that's where one would go to pound town with someone else other than your spouse.  Yes, there is a back gate out so no one will see ya' leaving.   Yes, you can own a gun there and you can own the land.  No 99 year leases anymore.  Lula's is a good B&B on the island, but right now you can get apartments, condos and private homes for super duper cheap.  My wife follows some facebook group and is always trying to twist my arm to go back. 

You may want to look into who else is in that fb group. Or not.

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On 6/5/2021 at 9:55 AM, justhookit said:

Great book. 

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On 6/4/2021 at 4:34 PM, midtown said:

Flights look pretty good.  $500. 

 I'm going to spend the wknd watching travel videos and read up on an itinerary.   Boca del Toro looks good.   Looks like a good place to fish @justhookit

I hear a half day canal tour is plenty.    Some type of coffee tour would be cool.   Looks like a great place to eat too.

Let us know what you find out. I’m working in Costa Rica coming up in a few weeks and have been to CR multiple times but wife is wanting to do an early August trip. Panama seems cool but I know little about it other than reading the book JustHookIt rec’ed. I’m heading somewhere. Looking at stuff on Jamaica now but Panama may be a better time. 

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...

Bump.  I'm working on making this happen in Feb.   8 days.  Fly into Panama City.  2-3 nights in and around. Check out a few of those bars mentioned above for some wholesome entertainment.   Hopefully spend a day looking at condos for retirement.  Then fly down to Boca Chica for fishing and relaxation.  I get enough Caribbean fishing in Belize a few times a year so I am planning on going Pacific for this one.
anyone have any new updates? advice? 

@Bevo&Pevo
 

Edited by midtown
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2 hours ago, midtown said:

Bump.  I'm working on making this happen in Feb.   8 days.  Fly into Panama City.  2-3 nights in and around. Check out a few of those bars mentioned above for some wholesome entertainment.   Hopefully spend a day looking at condos for retirement.  Then fly down to Boca Chica for fishing and relaxation.  I get enough Caribbean fishing in Belize a few times a year so I am planning on going Pacific for this one.

anyone have any new updates? advice? 

I haven't looked at Int'l Living in a few years but they had a ton of free Panama content.

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On 1/3/2023 at 12:31 PM, midtown said:

Bump.  I'm working on making this happen in Feb.   8 days.  Fly into Panama City.  2-3 nights in and around. Check out a few of those bars mentioned above for some wholesome entertainment.   Hopefully spend a day looking at condos for retirement.  Then fly down to Boca Chica for fishing and relaxation.  I get enough Caribbean fishing in Belize a few times a year so I am planning on going Pacific for this one.
anyone have any new updates? advice? 

@Bevo&Pevo
 

From what I understand, real estate ownership in Panama isn't the same as in the US. So, I might lean towards Costa Rica. If you go down to Puerto Jimenez, you can see Panama from the beach. So, you may not be in Panama but you are pretty darn close. Fishing was amazing off of Drake Bay. We caught 8 dorado and a couple blue marlin in about half a day on a small, 24ft. center console.

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On 1/3/2023 at 12:31 PM, midtown said:

Bump.  I'm working on making this happen in Feb.   8 days.  Fly into Panama City.  2-3 nights in and around. Check out a few of those bars mentioned above for some wholesome entertainment.   Hopefully spend a day looking at condos for retirement.  Then fly down to Boca Chica for fishing and relaxation.  I get enough Caribbean fishing in Belize a few times a year so I am planning on going Pacific for this one.
anyone have any new updates? advice? 

@Bevo&Pevo
 

You might want to go spend some time with these guys.

SeaPods - Waterfront Lifestyle - Experience A Totally New Way Of Living | Ocean Builders

He just might be on to something.  One of the reasons Panama is on our short list is the fact that the country has never had a hurricane due its proximity to the equator.  So, these pods may work.  I have communicated with the owner by email several times, so he is accessible.  They seem to have a plan for most everything like how to get your meds, deal with the wastewater, deliver groceries etc...  

Here's a couple of things to maybe keep in mind.  Make sure your phone is ready for GPS travel, especially for P-City.  Beware they drive mostly like organized chaos, especially at rush hour.   Most roads are good to very good.  There are checkpoints (occasionally) around, we have never had an issue at any.  Your driver's license is recognized for up to 90 days.  Don't forget there is a Panamanian consulate in Houston for when that day arrives.  Here's some links you can dig into.  I do have some links to several real estate folks, if you are interested let me know and I'll get over to you.  

Should You Form A Panama Corporation? - Pros & Cons (livinginpanama.com)

Lugares que deber√≠as conocer en la Rep√ļblica de Panam√° (lugaresabundantenaturalezapty.blogspot.com)

Los Buzos: Fishing Resort Panama - Kayak and Boats

Continuing with this line of random ass thought, we have felt earth tremors.   I guess they'd be called aftershocks.  I'm not sure, but they were teeny.  Saw ripples in my glass like a T-Rex was running after me. The "Man" passed a recent law with regards to how beaches are treated.  All beaches were considered to be public for 24 hours a day.  Now if you own your own island, during daylight until 5pm they are public.  After which they are now your property you could ask people to leave.  This is according to the wife; she keeps up this more so than me.  Ecuador also uses the dollar and may have some opportunities to consider.  Uruguay might be another target. Within the last year, there were a lot of protests in regard to high prices on fuel, food, and medicine.  Locals were somewhat organized and made travel along the PanAmerican Highway difficult by blocking and stalling traffic.  However, they would relinquish the road at evening and traffic would move again.  All of this is supposedly over, but make sure to check.  I use twitter to follow current events there.  Bocastown in the upper east, recently has been out of potable water.  

Our trips there have always been focused on looking for a place to buy.  We've never really spent much time in Panama City for goofing off or the nightlife. That will come later when we are there permanently.  We prefer to live in a rural environment.  Very rural.  Our next trip, we'll be digging into Pedasi, Puerto Armuelles, and some smaller towns on the upper west coast.  We want to be close to David because it does have an airport to get out of.   We'd be there now if our youngest daughter hadn't moved back home.  Once our brood is firmly established on their own, we'll be out.  If I think of anything else, I'll post it up.  Good luck and takes lots of pictures.

 

 

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If fishing is your thing, it really doesn’t get any better than Tropic Star. Some of the best deep water fishing in the world. You have to puddle jump from Panama City or take a boat down there. It’s about 15 miles from the Colombian border. My wife and I went in September 2021 and we had a blast. I caught a blue marlin. Pretty friggin’ cool.

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On 1/3/2023 at 12:31 PM, midtown said:

Bump.  I'm working on making this happen in Feb.   8 days.  Fly into Panama City.  2-3 nights in and around. Check out a few of those bars mentioned above for some wholesome entertainment.   Hopefully spend a day looking at condos for retirement.  Then fly down to Boca Chica for fishing and relaxation.  I get enough Caribbean fishing in Belize a few times a year so I am planning on going Pacific for this one.
anyone have any new updates? advice? 

@Bevo&Pevo
 


get a nice place so I’ll have a free place to crash. Try not to marry a hot Colombian 

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I've got a most of my trip planned out.   Two nights at the Waldorf on points.  Then off to David.  Haven't booked the fights yet but based on seats its wide open.  Renting a car in David and if time permits will drive up to Boquete for the day then drive to Boca Chica.  Staying at the Seagull Cove for 3 nights.  Will fish inshore because offshore it $1400 and that's pretty steep for a solo angler.   But it's marlin season and I want to get one so I might just suck it up.  Then back to PTY for two nights.  Might cut this to one night.  Looking for a hotel in Casco Viejo.   

I'm not spending anytime looking at RE.  If I have a free day I might try to look at a few condos/apartments in Panama City. Going more just to get a sense of the vibe. I think I've decided I'd rather have a second place somewhere more cosmopolitan than rural. Restaurants, nightlife and a close international airport for returning home or to fly somewhere else.  So a small high rise condo in Panama City might fit the bill.  I will be adding Medellin to my possible second home spots. My daughter is in 8th grade and hell bent on going to Princeton.  If she ends up there it's possible that I move back to NYC.

Edited by midtown
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  • 1 month later...

Back from  Panama.
I made the mistake of staying in the business/banking district.  Was pretty dead.  Not much to do.   I did find a pretty legit local restaurant. 

Did a half day tour of Panama City.  Very enjoyable.  Actually seeing the canal and locks is pretty fucking cool.  
Flew Copa out of PTY to David.  Drove up to Boquete.  Easy 1 hourish drive straight up.  The temp drops probably 15 degrees.   I wandered around and found some lunch.  Feels like a mountain ski town for some reason.  Drove up to the entrance of the volcano park.  Those roads are narrow af and you definitely don't want to end up in those huge ditches that line the road.


Then drove to Boca Chica. They are working on the road once you turn off the Pan-American Hwy but lots of gravel dirt so get a SUV.   There isn't much around and these resorts seem pretty small. This largely a fishing town. I stayed at Seagull Cove which had 6 or 8 bungalows.  The food was damn good. There is a small store in "town" which is just like 10 buildings.  Otherwise its just stare at the water and relax.  This is not a place to go party.  That's Boca Del Toro.


And as far as speed bumps.   Google maps took me through some random neighborhood on the way to a gas station.   The roads in the hood are massively concaved.  I assume for water control.    Like a double dip with no warning.  I swear my suv had all four off the ground for a second.  Really hard on the front end.  Luckily no damage.  Well visible damage at least.


I decided I wanted to leave early so I went ahead and booked at AirPanama for $130. It was 3 hours earlier and also lands at PAC which is MUCH closer to the city. Its also a Fokker turbo prop.  Love flying on those.


Last two nights I stayed in Casco Viejo aka Old Town.  Booked a pretty big room on one of the squares.  Quite lively at night.   Lots of boutique hotels, restaurants and they seem to be renovating every other building. 

Police are EVERYWHERE.  Several road stops to and from Boquete
Overall I give it a 5.  If I ever go again Ill check out the Caribbean side but otherwise that seems like a 1 and done country. 

FYI.  PTY does a double security screen for international flights. 

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Edited by midtown
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I'll add another story.¬† After traveling back to Panama City and checking in it was time for a post travel cocktail and a bite to eat.¬† ¬†Google showed this place (Kaandela) just a block away from my hotel as open.¬† ¬†Looked in the window and it was clearly not open and the door was locked.¬† ¬†Well I guess the owner saw me.¬† Opened the door and insisted that I come in even though they didnt open for well over an hour.¬† ¬†He took me back to the bar where I ordered one of the best damn old fashioneds I've ever had.¬† ¬†We talked about development of Casco Viejo and Panama in general and where his groups other hotels/restaurants are etc.¬† They have a small hotel above the restaurant.¬† ¬†Nicest English chap.¬† ¬†He asked if I wanted to come back for dinner and after looking at the menu and including his hospitality absolutely.¬† ¬†The ma√ģtre d came over took down my name and said just to come back at 7pm and they will have a table for me.¬† As soon as I walked in.¬† "Hello Mr.¬† John"¬† All the waiters were calling me by name.¬† Even the chef was calling me by name.¬† The also gave me the chefs table.¬† The food and drinks were delicious.¬† I had the duck hash and short rib.


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34 minutes ago, Bevo&Pevo said:

It isn't for everyone, but then again nothing ever is.  Food pictures looked delicious.

Don't get me wrong.  I had a great time.  And I enjoyed all the food, culture and people.  I'd encourage anyone thinking about a trip to go for sure.  

I've been to plenty of places and had other people say Oh I hated _________

I did match on tinder with one of the hottest women I have ever seen.  She even gave me her whatsapp but then disappeared when I suggested meeting.   Per my uber driver girls from Venezuela and Colombia are $25.   I actually matched with probably 60 women.  Most ghosted when I said I was visiting.  

Edited by midtown
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12 hours ago, midtown said:

Don't get me wrong.  I had a great time.  And I enjoyed all the food, culture and people.  I'd encourage anyone thinking about a trip to go for sure. 

Were you scouting it out as a possible retirement or remote work destination?

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31 minutes ago, midtown said:

Yes

If this is off topic, let me know (might be an interesting thread if I haven’t missed it already) but what are your criteria for something like that?

When I look at that kind of thing, right off the bat, an alphabet/language dramatically different from English is a deal killer, no matter what else the country (Thailand, Viet Nam, anything Cyrillic) has going for it  Basically, English or a Romance language… or German, I guess.

Climate can’t suck. Reasonable access to the US. 

Central and South America and parts of Mexico check a lot of boxes.

 

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Panama City is about 50/50 English/Spanish but that ratio gets much worse once you leave the city.   My Spanish borders on basic to average.   I would probably become fluent within a year of living in a Spanish community.   I did find it odd that one of my uber drivers, after I said hello in English.  He said in Spanish.  I speak English but I'm not going to speak it.  lol ok. 

Panama City is hot.  The weather in Boquete is wonderful but man if you are retired and in your 70s etc and you need any kind of major medical it seems like it would take hours to get back to Panama City. I have no idea what medical is like in David or Boquete.  Now they are expanding the airport in David to handle bigger planes.  They can already land 73's but my guess is that want to get into the 78s so they can get direct traffic from all over.   That might change the medical issue but that's going to take a while. 

The biggest benefit to lving in the city is not only access to the US but PTY is such an international city that you can probably fly almost anywhere in the world direct. 

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Perhaps my main reason to GTFO Texas is that I’m sick to death of the summers. I have no interest in moving anywhere hot.

I can understand Spanish pretty well, especially with a ‚Äúm√°s despacio, por favor‚ÄĚ thrown in occasionally. No interest in French or even Portuguese, really.

I’ve looked and looked and looked and have come to the conclusion that if anywhere is going to work it’s going to be Ecuador. Spanish. Dollar. Flights to the US that aren’t too much of a beatdown. Eternal spring weather, depending on how far up in the Andes you go. Modern hospitals in Cuenca and Quito, possibly Loja for most stuff. Public transport and walkable. Very affordable. 

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  • 2 months later...

So, I'm taking my wife and 3 kids to Panama City.  Doing an immersion course in Casco Viejo for a few weeks. I'm very much a - pick a few things and wing it the rest of the trip - kind of guy.  So, thinking San Blas islands, Peacock Bass fishing, and food.  Lots of food.  Gonna take a hard pass on the whore recommendations above.  Got anything else? 

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On 5/22/2023 at 7:36 AM, Daichee Bell said:
San Blas islands

Talked to a couple on my trip and they said this is a rough trip and he wouldn't do it again.   Apparently its all freaking day.  He said the water is nice but he travels enough that he can see this type of stuff anywhere.  If you can get away and out of PTY for two days I would suggest spending two night in Boquette.  You can fly Panama Air fairly cheap.

@Daichee Bell You must take your family to the restaurant in the Amarla Boutique Hotel in Casco Viejo.  Kaandela  I'll paste my story from instagram.

Feel free to ask for Robin and tell him this story.

I was looking around Casco Viejo for a post travel cocktail and a bite after a day of traveling from Boca Chica. The owner saw me looking in. The door was locked as they weren't open for a while. Regardless Robin insisted I come in anyway. I had the best old fashioned I've ever had.¬† Talked about development of the area for a while. Based on that and the menu I asked for a table. Robin brought ma√ģtre d over and was told to come back in an hour when they were open.¬† As soon as I walked in the door "oh you are Mr. John¬† ¬†Our guest of honor tonight"¬† Of course they gave me the chefs table. Always the best seat. And everyone was calling me Mr John.


Duck hash and short rib.  Sorry I dug into the short rib before I took a picture. 


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Edited by midtown
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6 minutes ago, DaysOff said:

I just had a PTY layover for the first time since covid. Goddamn the humidity is relentless, and I'm a native Houstonian. Any escape for me would require cool, crisp air.

Definitely the reason I generally crossed PTY off my possible second home/retirement list.  Unless you live up in the mountains.   Another reason why the Panama Canal is so impressive.  Imagine working all day in the jungle heat and humidity.  I'd fall over and die just to get a reprieve

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1 hour ago, kevwun said:

You can also get to the San Blas Islands from Costa Rica.  It' doesn't sound like it takes a whole day from what I have read.  Sailing in that area on a Catamaran is on my list.

Are you sure we are talking about the same place?  It's a 14 hour tour to the Caribbean side of Panama from PTY. 

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Yeah, that's a 3 hour car ride and then a 30-45 boat ride.  So that's 6-7 hours of travel and the rest of the time is at the islands.  I meant it didn't take a whole day of travel to get there.  If we do it, it's going to be a multi day trip.  It won't be a huge deal as we won't be doing both legs on the same day.

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6 hours ago, kevwun said:

Yeah, that's a 3 hour car ride and then a 30-45 boat ride.  So that's 6-7 hours of travel and the rest of the time is at the islands.  I meant it didn't take a whole day of travel to get there.  If we do it, it's going to be a multi day trip.  It won't be a huge deal as we won't be doing both legs on the same day.

This is more in line with what I’ve been told that. We’ve got friends that have a place in Panama City and they recommended going to the islands but spending the night. 
@midtown we will definitely check out the Amarla.

 

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