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Beach Time: Panama

Beach Time: Panama


A large part of healthy eating is rooted in your mind-body connection and knowing what "feels" right in your body. I meditate daily and additionally I've been practicing yoga since I was 18. My sister dragged me to my first Bikram class and I have been hooked ever since!

A good friend of mine was putting on a yoga retreat in Panama so Andrew and I jumped at the chance of exploring a new country that we hadn't been to yet.

An overnight flight to Panama City with no sleep led us to an early morning tour of the Canal. We watched a boat with 3,000 Toyotas pass through the locks followed by a "30-minute" van ride, which took two hours to arrive in Colon. A little outboard took us across a bay filled with small sail boats and an old Spanish Colonial fort. We spent two days getting sunburned (like I have never experienced before) in a hammock getting over that first night’s flight. 

After getting acclimated we headed back to Panama City, stopping at many fish stands and ate whole fried pargo caught fresh that morning. When ordered it typically was served with patacones, coconut rice, and hot, hot sauce. We toured the Casco Viejo, had mojitos on the rooftops and ate more red snapper. 

Since this trip we've been making coconut rice at home. It's so easy, just replace half of the liquid with coconut milk. Our favorite version is 1 part jasmine rice, 1 part water, 1 part coconut milk, and a pinch of salt. Bring it all to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Wait 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Onward to Bocas Del Toro, the home of our retreat, by a tiny old plane. We arrived at night. The beach road was both a beach and a road so it took 45 minutes to go 2 miles. At last, we were far away in our tropical oasis.  We woke the next morning and did yoga with monkeys and sloths high up on a platform in the jungle. Sailing, swimming, and snorkeling in crystal clear blue waters occupied us for the next few days. On our last night the full moon rose as the sun set, extending day and twilight until the thunderstorms moved in. 

I miss the unpredictable screeching sounds of the jungle at night now. The 3am rainstorms sounded as if the entire building would collapse, and noises of animals creeping were new and exciting. The diversity of the country was something I enjoyed so greatly and love that I got to experience it now.

Merci beaucoup!
Noah Stephens


Q&A with Noah

How do you plan for a trip like this?
The best spots present themselves when you're traveling so get a good tour guide and tell them to take you off the beaten path.

Where did you stay?
El Otro Lado, American Trade Hotel, and Island Plantation Bocas.

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Behind the Scenes