Nia’s Travel Diaries: Panama, Central America

Wondering what international travel looks like following the COVID-19 pandemic? Follow along with Notiq Agency founder and CEO Nia Hines as she explores some of the world’s most stunning destinations and shares first-hand insights in this new blog post series called “Nia’s Travel Diaries.” 

BEFORE THE FLIGHT

When we arrived at the airport to board our flight to Panama, on the international terminal side (Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal) at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, they did not, at the time, have a separate TSA line—so everyone had to get in the same line, which we were not expecting. Once they checked our passport, they gave us a TSA Pre-Check sticker so that we didn’t have to take off our shoes, remove laptops from our bags, etcetera, to go through security screening. From this experience, my advice to any international travelers is to carve a little extra time in your schedule at the airport to allow for a lengthier security screening process. Also a prerequisite to boarding our flight was showing our negative COVID-19 test results before boarding the flight.

UPON ARRIVAL

After our plane landed, we opted for private transportation to our resort—something I’d suggest to anyone looking to be extra cautious while traveling! At the time of check-in at our resort, we also scheduled our COVID-19 test that’s required in order to return back to the United States. Notiq Agency encourages all of our clients to go ahead and schedule that test to ensure there aren’t any major delays or issues when you’re trying to make it back home! 

DAY 1 

Since we didn’t get a chance to have breakfast (yay for long security lines!), we went out that night for dinner to LAZOTEA, a rooftop restaurant and lounge with live music. It was so nice! They had a magician come over to do entertainment while we were waiting on our food and getting drinks—how cool? 

After dining on some delicious food, we restaurant-hopped over to Red Lion, another local spot within walking distance that had more of a nighttime lounge vibe. We sat out on the balcony that offered gorgeous city views—not a bad ending to our first night there!

DAY 2

To kick off our second day in Panama, we went to Emberá Querá, a Panamanian village. But we didn’t walk or drive there. We were actually picked up from our hotel and taken to a location to ride a boat into the village, where we spent the day. We were welcomed by a lively dance session (which we joined in on, of course!) before a personal tour guide took us around the village, pointing out the different plants that natives use within the village to live off of. He showed us species of plants that help with epilepsy and different plants to help naturally treat cancer, just to name a couple. We had lunch there too (they had fresh fish that they’d just caught and cooked!). We supported the village by purchasing some of the natives’ local artwork and handcrafted goods. 

Also on night two, we had to squeeze in our second COVID-19 test in order to return home, since the test has to be taken within 72 hours or less before your departing flight.

DAY 3

We spent our entire third day in the city of Panama just out and about, site-seeing in Casco Viejo and getting to know the locals. During our time exploring, we actually met a woman who had just moved to Panama from the United States! A brief rainshower came through, so we ducked into a cafe, Nomada Eatery, where we ordered pizza and drinks, and played a few rounds of Jenga to wait out the rain. 

Afterward, we jumped in an Uber and headed to Alta Vita Spa for a little pampering! I had a full-body massage and a body scrub, it was heaven!. Once we came out of our post-spa-day daze, we went to El Trapiche San Francisco, a restaurant that specializes in Panamanian food before making our way to the MultiPlaza Mall. (We just wanted to see what Panama’s malls were like and what kind of stores they had!) 

Then we went back to the city to Santa Rita for dinner and a nightcap. The food was amazing, as was the live music! Fun fact: Live music and rooftops is absolutely a thing in Panama. Most restaurants have live music, especially at night. Following dinner, we walked the square (the Casco Antiguo and numerous walkable squares) and just enjoyed ourselves! When we finally decided to head back to the resort around midnight, we’d been out exploring Panama and soaking up the city for about 12 hours. 

DAY 4

After a full day of activities, we planned a relaxing beach day to cap off our trip to Panama! 

DAY 5

We headed back to the United States, following the same COVID-19 procedures as we did to enter into Panama. What an unforgettable trip it was! 

Wishing you safe travels, 

Nia

P.S. To check out some photos from the trip, check out our Panama story highlight on Instagram!

Have questions about traveling to Panama or traveling in general? Want to book a group trip with Notiq Agency? Visit us at www.notiqagency.com/services to set up a consultation!