fbpx

​I’m always intrigued how much first impressions can shift through the depth of our senses. For me, the first thing I noticed when I came to Panama (after the immigration agent told me I had to pay for my entry to Panama with a smile!!) was how different it feels than Costa Rica. After spending a month in nature and with animals, I was driving through towns of what looked like very poor housing and it felt kind of dirty and grimy and I wondered if I maybe shouldn’t have come.

This is where you stand on line to get your passport exit stamp from Costa Rica.

This is the long bridge you walk across to go from Costa Rica into Panama.

We arrived at Bocas Del Toro, Isla Colon (the main island) and it immediately seemed like a touristy town. A nice man came over and told me he’d help me get a taxi. In fact, he walked me over to his shop where he sells boat tours. He was so nice I felt obliged to listen, but didn’t buy a tour, and in an amazing coincidence, as soon as he finished telling me all about his tours, a taxi showed up to take me to my hotel. That taxi took me to my hotel for the whopping price of $1. I was so stupefied I gave the driver $2 because I could not fathom a taxi ride being that cheap – in fact that’s cheaper than the base fare cost just for getting in to a taxi in New York City!!
 
My first take is that people in Bocas are friendly mainly because they want you to buy from them. I miss the “hola” and “con mucho gusto” culture of Costa Rica. There is less nature in Bocas, and I find myself seeing more shortcomings than things that inspire me, at first glance.

Downtown Bocas del Toro.

The tour shop where Nino, the nice helpful guy who said he’d help me get a cab, brought me.

Within two days, however, I find myself extending my stay!
 
First, I’m in a budget hotel that actually has a nightstand. (Funny what you appreciate when you stay in cheap hotels!) I mean the fact that I can put my eReader and glasses on a small table by my bed, instead of on my bed, seems like I’ve hit the jackpot. I also notice there are no spiders, mosquitoes, roaches, grasshoppers, cicadas, or any other bugs that have made their presence known in my room, which is also blissfully quiet at night. (Just those darn chickens next door that like to wake me up at 5:30am.) AND, the shower has real, hot water. The kind I want to spend half an hour in (but don’t). I jump in immediately for the first real shower following a 3-night stay with only cold water…
 
Next, I wander the town and end up running in to a lovely German couple who I met while staying in the Corcovado area! We were all delightfully surprised. The possibility of us all being in the same store at the same time in the same city, well, thus why I don’t believe in coincidence!

My hotel owners are like loving parents. Having gotten accustomed to being home by dark as a solo female traveler, they told me to go grab a drink in a nearby hostel saying it was very safe. So, I went out and ended up meeting some lovely people and eating one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while, along with a margarita, for only $6! When I return to the hotel, the owners playfully pointed to their watch and scolded me for coming home late. 🙂

Beautiful waters in Panama.

Having a drink with my new friends.

Then I took an island tour and that was just lovely. I felt like I was beginning to truly appreciate my surroundings rather than comparing them to other places. I met a lovely American woman from Wisconsin who invited me to join her and a friend for dinner, as well as a lovely Italian couple on their honeymoon!)
 
The following day I went to a Starfish Beach – it’s called Playa Estrella. And there are live starfish all over it – amazing!! I’ve never seen anything like it. I returned starving (because I slept in and didn’t have time for a real breakfast) and ran to the falafel place in town, only to discover it is closed at lunchtime!? They say things happen for a reason. Well, I gave in and decided to go to the next restaurant up the street, and there were Claudio and Francesca! They invited me to lunch with them and I very happily joined. The other bonus was that Claudio, like me, appreciates a good cup of coffee, and so I was delighted to get a great cup of espresso too!
 
And so it turns out I like Panama after all! The prices, if you avoid the expensive parts of town, are reasonable. I wouldn’t buy souvenirs as they are fairly cheaply made, and there is definitely something a bit dirty about certain places, but the feel is laid back, it attracts great people from around the world and the island hopping is not to be missed!

Also – some random facts that add to the experience – “Bocas del Toro” means “mouths of the bull” – if ever I was destined to go someplace! It was named by Christopher Columbus who thought an area looked like the a bull’s mouth – not sure how that got pluralized, but hey, I’ll take it.

Real starfish on Playa Estrella in Isla Colon.

Playa Zapatilla #2 – one of the gorgeous beaches around the Bocas del Toro.

Most of what's keeping you from what you want - full-time travel, a new business idea, a radical career shift - are your excuses. After one session with Heather, you'll understand which excuses are holding you back the most, how to get them out of the way, and you'll leave with an action plan that helps you set the foundation to pivot into the life you want.

You know you don't like your job, but you can't figure out how to survive without it. Designed for frustrated professionals the program focuses on teaching you the key steps to shifting your work and money mindsets, and giving you the money and work strategies to pursue, leaving you empowered to quit with confidence and see that it really is possible to live happily without a stable job.

Whether traveling full time was your dream before the pandemic, or after, this session will help you understand how to prepare, what you need to know, and how to get your finances in order to make it happen. It's the perfect accompaniment to the "How To Afford The Travel Life" eBook. You'll also get an understanding of both what's great about full-time travel and some of the challenges. You can also discuss planning help, and how to get the most out of your experience.

It's always been essential to understand your money, but if you've lost your job due to the pandemic, now it's even more important that you create financial empowerment. In this session, Heather will work with you to first understand your gaps in managing your money, then she'll help you with the framework on how to ensure you can afford the life you dream of. You'll get tips to save and budget, and also discuss ways to earn money that will shift you out of feeling like a victim of the times, to seeing the opportunities in front of you to begin making money in a different way.

You want to quit and travel full time, but when can you go? This eBook gives you all the formulas you need to calculate when you can quit and afford the travel lifestyle you want, in under and hour.

Thanks to the pandemic, we've all had a chance to ask the question, "what now?" If you've decided it's time to quit your 9-to-5 to travel full time (or take it with you while you live nomadically), this program will help you address the core mindset, money, and planning gaps you have. This is the program that will help you acknowledge and overcome your fears about what's next, figure out how to afford and sustain your travels, and feel confident about planning your adventure. Book your free session to see if you're a fit!

You're finally serious about traveling full time, but you cannot figure out how you'll afford it. Or, you're just curious whether it's really even possible to afford the lifestyle. Bootcamp is for you! We'll go dive deep into savings strategies before you go, how to save on the road, and how to sustain your travels, as well as look at lots of work opportunities if you want to work while you travel! Includes a 3-day build your budget challenge to get you thinking about how to replace dreams with real logical steps to make it happen.

You've dreamed about traveling full time for as long as you can remember, and now you've learned that it's a little more challenging than you thought. Get help getting through the initial shock and changes when you realize you're not on vacation. Learn how to manage those experiences where you meet parts of yourself long forgotten, and create a plan to help you have the best experience with your journey.

If you want to see every post I've written, starting with the most recent, this is the place to start!


If you need some tips on getting started, traveling safe, and saving money while traveling full time, go here! 

I've been traveling the globe solo, and many of my posts share thoughts and resources specifically for other solo travelers. If you're a fellow solo traveler, or you're thinking about solo travel, this is a collection you will find of interest.

If you're looking to read blog posts about specific destinations, click the country of your interest below to go to it's blog page and get country-specific reviews and thoughts.

Africa

Argentina

Australia

Brazil

Cambodia

Chile

Costa Rica

France

New Zealand

Peru

Portugal

Scotland

Singapore

Thailand

Uruguay

Vietnam

 

Sometimes I write posts where I give insider information on certain cities I've visited, which may be more along the lines of places to go, how to save money, etc. If that's your main interest, check out this compilation of posts.

In 2020, I was traveling in New Zealand as the coronavirus pandemic brewed, and, got stuck there. If you want to read about what this time was like and traveling during this time, check out this page.

At the heart of international travel is learning about the many different cultures and ways of being around the world. The posts compiled on this page speak, specifically, about the cultural observations I've had.

Many of my blog posts are about things I've discovered about myself or about being, while I've traveled. If you'd like to focus on posts that only have self-discovery themes, click the button below.

%d bloggers like this: