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Facts about Panama
Stuff to See and Do
What to Eat
If you visit Chiriqui, you will see lots of signs for fresa con crema. Do not pass up this delicious treat served with locally grown strawberries and homemade cream, which comes in various flavors (i.e., Kahlua, Bailey's, Amaretto, chocolate, etc.). A good fresa cafe will serve you strawberries anyway you like it--ice-cream, shakes, juices, yogurt....
Where to Shop
Arts & Handicrafts
Chakras are a style of bag that Ngobe men and women make and use for just about everything, including carrying pet lizards to 80 pounds of bananas! The thread comes from the Pita plant and is all natural. The bags are woven by hand and can take up to 2 months, depending on the size and intricacy of design. Each bag is completely unique and original, and costs roughly $5-20. If you are in the Boquete or Bocas area, look for them. Purchasing one of these bags helps the women support themselves independently, as well as feed and cloth their children. These bags are also available online here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/78464951/handmade-all-natural-indigenous.
Although some may point you to the Instituto Nacional de Cultura in Villa de los Santos, they don't actually sell masks but may have good information on where to get them. We visited two mask makers' homes: Carlos Ivan de Leon (tel. 647-43228; Calle Tomas Herrera & Jose Vallarino) in Villa de los Santos, and Jose Gonzalez Santa (tel. 996-2314; Calle Felipe Gonzalez) in Chitre. When we visited Carlos's home, he didn't have much of a selection to choose from although he was working on several pieces. Jose in Chitre, who quite comically makes devil masks behind a church, had several elaborate pieces in different sizes ranging from $30-120. Great way to shop and see artisans at work!
Pick up your insurance card at the tourist information desk before exiting Tocumen International Airport. Panama is one of the few, if not only, countries to offer tourist insurance packages for free. The insurance applies to medical emergencies occurring within the first 30 days after entry into Panama. For more information, call 204 9300 or 800 2312.
General Availability: High
Quality of Bandwidth: Medium
Frequency of Internet in Campgrounds: Average. Camping in a hostel or hotel, there will be internet. Camping at a national park, there won’t be any access.
Frequency of Internet in Hotels: High In general, internet is available everywhere. There are small internet cafes in every town, and several in tourist areas. The problem is that the quality of the connections are all over the place.