When the public schools had a week vacation between their trimesters, we decided to take advantage and explore. We considered quite a few destinations: an all inclusive in Santa Clara, a quick trip to Medellin, the Pearl Islands. Ultimately, because of time constraints, we decided to venture three hours into the highlands of Panama to a small town named Santa Fe in the Veraguas province. Since we are at the beach multiple times a week, we though it would be a good opportunity to get a change of scenery. We were on the lookout for waterfalls, rivers, and lush landscapes. We found all those things, but true to the name of Veraguas, not without getting a little wet ourselves.
Santa Fe is barely a town. It includes a few little grocery stores, a town square, and a smattering of inns spread out along the hills. We stayed at a charming place called Casa Mariposa where we had our own little cabin. The views were amazing, there was plenty of space for the kids to run and explore, and our dog Koji quickly assimilated into the owner’s pack of dogs.
Our first day, we toured the organic farm of Maria y Chon. The prepared a delicious lunch for us with all ingredients from their farm. We were able to tour their vegetable gardens, visit their pigs and chickens, and see their award winning flowers and orchids. The highlight was when Chon taught us the process of growing and making coffee from the bean all the way to the cup in the old tradition. The kids loved smashing the hulls off the beans and rotating the grinder. It poured rain on us while we are there, but Parker was as happy in the mud as one of their pigs.
The next day we went in search of a waterfall. Our host had told us of one that we could hike to. We’re not sure we found that exact one, but we found one nonetheless. The hike would have been challenging without kids due the mud and the steepness, but with kids it was almost ridiculous. Somehow we made it and were able to enjoy swimming in the pool and throwing rocks before it started to rain on us again. We cut our visit short because we were concerned that if it started raining too hard, it would be too difficult to climb up the steep, slippery grade. Again, somehow we made it, even with Brian carrying Parker on his hip.
We were able to cap off our trip with a visit to an authentic Cambodian restaurant. Random- yes, but also delicious. Like all trips with kids, this one presented it challenges. The whole time AJC had the attitude of a sullen teenager that thought everything was “stupid.” He also had an anxiety attack when their were locals in the waterfall pool and he felt like they were looking at him. Oh and one night, PJC spent the entire night expelling some wicked stomach bug that kept us up all night and used up the entire package of diapers I had packed. After that, I think we were happy to start our journey home. After seeing all that Veraguas had to offer, the boys reported to their teacher that their favorite part was doing family movie night in the cabin every night. We still have a lot of Panama to explore, but it is also tempting to stay home and enjoy the comforts of our own little ideal vacation spot.