This is a guest blog by 11-year-old Angus Gillcash, who visited Isla Palenque earlier this month accompanied by a certain Jacki who should by now be very familiar to regular readers of The Ambler. Our team had a blast hosting Angus and his parents and we are very happy to publish this post by the budding young journalist and island explorer!
Since my family moved to Panama from Canada we’ve done lots of cool, fun things. We explored the Gamboa Rainforest, visited the Panama Canal and climbed mountains in Boquete. I’ve even learned how to surf and ride a boogie board.
I thought Isla Palenque would be a cool place to go see because there’s a brand-new hotel and I saw the pictures on their website, which looked awesome. I knew as soon as we got there that I was right – it was very cool.
My mom writes for The Ambler, so we had a chance to go visit the island that their hotel is on. It’s near a town called Boca Chica, which meant we had to drive about four hours to get there and then take a boat ride to the island, which only took about 15 minutes. Even though it was a long drive it was worth it.
We got to stay for three nights and I even got to miss a day of school. Another family from Canada came to the hotel on our second day and they had three boys who were about my age. That made the trip even more fun.
There was a lot to do at the hotel and on the island. Ben and Emily, the people in charge at the hotel, were really nice – especially Emily – and set up lots of tours for us. All of the people who worked at the hotel were really friendly and helped us out a lot.
My favorite things that we did were a tie between the snorkeling and swimming in the infinity pool. While I was snorkeling I saw a blowfish and a neon blue-and-yellow fish – it was cool. There is a neat infinity pool that spills over a waterfall into another wading pool below and from the pool you can see right out onto the ocean. I had lots of fun in the pool. One day some monkeys came down to a tree that was right beside the pool, so while we were swimming we could see the monkeys.
Early in the trip we went in a boat for a few hours to check out some of the islands. We went snorkeling and stopped at a nice beach where Rodolfo and Manuel had drinks ready for us. At the beach Manuel put on some snorkeling gear and went into the water to find me some sea shells. He found me three cool shells and two clams that I took home for souvenirs.
Another afternoon, me, my dad and mom hiked around the trails that are set up around the island. It was really hot but the hike wasn’t too hard. We saw lots of howler monkeys, birds and even a snake. The guide told us the snake wasn’t poisonous but would still hurt if you got bit.
On one tour we hiked to Playa Palenque and watched the sun set. The water was warm and calm with a sandy bottom – no rocks. We got to swim for about an hour. Manuel and Rodolfo were also there with drinks, chairs and a ride back to the room. There were lots of cool birds flying around and we even saw some green parrots and hummingbirds.
My mom also went on a bird-watching tour really early in the morning (it was still dark when she left). Even though she said it was really hot and a little rainy, she said it was still worth it. She saw egrets.
Our room was very nice and had two balconies. On one of the balconies we had a great view of the jungle and ocean. There was really good wifi throughout the hotel so I got to check my Facebook and emails, and I even got to watch a hockey game one night. I almost forgot, the hotel provides an iPad for each room! I was allowed to take the iPad out of the room to take pictures, which was very fun.
We had great food at the hotel. They had a fantastic Panamanian chef. For our first night, he cooked a seven-course appetizer meal for us, which even I thought was amazing. Everything he made was fancy, even sandwiches and hamburgers. My favourite was a tie between the hamburger sliders and the cheesecake. I’ve never had a seven course fancy dinner like that — it was awesome.
At night, a whole bunch of crabs would come out and start marching through the restaurant and the decks. I thought it was kind of neat.
Hopefully, someday we will be able to go back for another visit, but this time stay longer.