Housesitting in Torio, Panama – 11.11. – 06.12.2019

With four dogs and two (three) cats in paradise

We have already told you about our bus trip from Costa Rica to Panama. Here you can find out what happened after the trip. 🙂 Have fun reading.

As already mentioned, our hostess Patricia picked us up in Santiago De Veraguas. From there it is still about 75 km to Torio. But the “ride” takes almost two hours. The road is so bad that you can only ride very slowly if you don’t want to wreck your car in one of the canyon-sized potholes. There are some rice fields along the road and there is a lot of building going on in the area. The road is not up to the trucks there.

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On arrival we were greeted barking and waving. In the following we’ll introduce you to our new friends. 🙂

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Seamus
is very wild.
always dirty.

likes to go for walks with strangers.

is the most active and always needs occupation.

grew up with tomcat Rambo and they like to fight. 😀

takes every opportunity to get dirty.

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Lulu
is the smallest.
barks the longest. 😀

is jealous sometimes.

takes some time to warm up, but then she’ s so sweet. 🙂

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Maggie
is quiet and sweet.

likes to chew on people. Cuddles 😀

is always in the closet during thunderstorms and rain, a little scared.

is the first to wait outside in the morning for the workers to pass the house, barking immediately and waking everyone at 6:30 a.m. 😀

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Skyler
is the brother of Bandit (not from the same litter).

is incredibly sweet and quiet, and also very fluffy!

loves to have his belly rubbed and therefore always lies on his back immediately. 😀

follows you everywhere.

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Bandit
is the oldest.

a little too heavy and always hungry. (just like Mucki :D)

will eat his brother’s bowl clean if he’s not stopped.

is otherwise also quite quiet and likes to sleep. But as soon as the fridge opens, he is wide awake. ^^

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Callie
is tiny and incredibly cute.

prefers to sleep in a box.

But also very cheeky, she likes to eat “people food” and licks our plates. 😀

fights from time to time with Rambo and also slaps the dogs from time to time. 😀

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Rambo
is a little devil.

likes to fight with Seamus and sometimes quite hard, but also slaps the others again and again.

is nevertheless also sweet and cuddly.

is very adventurous.

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Barney
is very shy.

hasn’t gotten used to us in all this time and we’ve hardly seen him. Mostly just once a day.

likes to lie behind the TV in the bedroom, that’s where the only picture of him was taken. 😀

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The first days

The next day we went with Patricia and Bob to Santiago. From there they took the bus to Panama City to fly home (USA). They are very nice and were very generous, we were even allowed to use their car. We are still in contact today. 🙂

After the two of them were gone, we went shopping in Santiago and then drove back to Torio. The weather was quite similar to Costa Rica. But because of the proximity to the ocean it was much more pleasant than e.g. in Nicoya. The humidity was high and it was hot, besides it rained almost every day, but mostly only for a short time and in the afternoon. Fortunately we didn’t experience a bigger thunderstorm, but we could often see lightning in the distance because of the great view. But all in all the weather was good and we had many nice days.

Our home and the surroundings

Our new place was fantastic. Every room has air conditioning, everything is on the ground floor. The guest room has its own bathroom with shower and also access to the huge terrace with pool. The house has a high ceiling and so it looks even bigger than it actually is. For the dogs and cats there is a flap so they can get out whenever they want.The garden behind the house is fenced in, so you don’t have to worry that somebody might escape.

There is a huge fridge (it makes ice cubes!) and we felt very comfortable from the beginning. The property is quite big and so there is a big garden with papayas, pineapple, avocado and guava, and some ornamental plants. A nice gardener takes care of it. Unfortunately it was not the time of pineapple and avocado, but guava and papaya were abundant. More than we could eat. The birds were happy, as you can see on some photos below the text here. They also built a small house (cabana) which they rent over Airbnb. The view there is really great, too. If somebody should ever come to this part of the world, he should spend the night there. 🙂

In Panama we ate the most delicious pineapples we have ever tasted. In Costa Rica they were already great, but the ones in Panama were actually even better.

There are more and more monocultures, bigger and bigger areas are used for it and after the harvest the fields are simply sprayed with chemicals. The plants die and are ploughed under. As a result, the soil becomes worse and worse and the toxins also contaminate the ground water. Not to mention the fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides used during cultivation. In Costa Rica, this also contributes to the decline of otter populations and riverine animals in general. At the Toucan Rescue Ranch, our guide has also explicitly mentioned this, because an otter lady lives there as well.

On the bus ride from Puerto Viejo to Santiago we saw the endless pineapple fields. Sometimes bananas come in between, you can recognize them by the blue bags that protect the fruit. But most of the areas which one could see from the bus were planted with pineapples.

Crazy enough the fruits in Costa Rica and Panama are sometimes more expensive than here. So there is probably something wrong. If we can get the fruits cheaper in our supermarket than where they are grown, one can unfortunately assume that people are exploited.

That should be enough about pineapples for now.

Flora and Fauna

There was an incredible amount to discover. Various trees, bushes, plants in general. And of course lots of animals. Colorful birds, butterflies, insects (the huge “grasshopper”), spiders… One morning, we were in the pool, when the dogs suddenly started barking. Get out of the pool and have a look: There was a family of horses on the “yard”. 😀 We contacted a friend of the hosts and shortly after, the horses were collected. But they visited us again the next day. 🙂

Often we would lie in wait with our camera in the morning to catch birds. It often worked and was a lot of fun. We even saw a Woody Woodpecker, really cool. The comic figure is based on the Pileated Woodpecker.

The Waterfall

There is a waterfall near the property. We set off, but unfortunately we didn’t find it. Nevertheless it was a nice trip, even if it was not very clever to start in slippers (there are definitely extremely poisonous snakes here). You have to go through thicket to get there. We waded through mud, climbed mountains 😀 and could already hear the water. But then we turned around. The way got lost in a river, it was incredibly hot and we saw a lot of things anyway. Various flowers and butterflies, and we also stood in the water for a while to cool down.

On the beach there were also two waterfalls, these more than compensated us. It is really beautiful there, one cannot say this often enough.

The spiders

Here are a few pictures. The pictures of the birds were all taken directly at the house, the spiders as well. One more word about the big spider. It is a golden silk spider. The females are really huge (palm-sized), but still beautiful. The bite is painful, but not dangerous and there are really many of this species. We have not met any tarantulas, but there are certainly some there. Our time in Central America has changed our view on spiders a little bit. They are still alien, but now more fascinating than repulsive/disgusting. It is difficult to find a suitable word. The little white spider is this one. I named it “Lord of the Rings Spider” because it reminds me of orcs. No idea why. 😀

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Of snakes and sunsets…

The snake

Let’s start with the snake. We’ve only seen one “live” so far, and that was in Cahuita National Park. We should “meet” the second one in Torio. On our first evening our hosts pointed out to us that there was a snake outside in the roof construction. It would probably be a tree boa and not dangerous. If you spray them with vinegar water they usually get lost and you don’t see them again.

But on the second evening we saw him/her again. And she kept us company during our whole time there. Not always at the same place, but somewhere between the porters she was always to be found as soon as it dawned.

That was hm … fascinating and took some getting used to. The snake was not very big, I would say about 1,5-2 m and it never came close to us and the animals. But it was still a strange feeling for a few days. We watched it again and again and most of the time it just hung there and looked at the wall. But on one of the last evenings we could watch her eating. She grabbed a bat out of the air, really impressive.

The sunsets

Almost every evening we could watch one of these sunsets. It was really indescribably beautiful and we would be very happy if we had this view again at the moment.

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Living in Torio

The beach

Torio is located directly on the Pacific Ocean. From the house of our hosts, it takes between 10 and 15 minutes to walk to the beach. The beach is huge and since there are hardly any people there, you will always have your peace and quiet. One can see and walk endlessly. There are waterfalls right at the beach. There are also countless bird species. We have seen pelicans, vultures and magnificent frigate birds, various herons and other coastal birds.

The water was warm and pleasant. You can splash around, the waves and the current are very mild. But you have to be a bit careful in this area, this is not the case on all beaches. Many are very popular with surfers because of the waves.

Unfortunately, there was one downer: the garbage. Some corners were full of rubbish, from bottles and shoes to diapers. Within a very short time we collected two bags full of garbage. Only a drop on the hot stone, but still. Hopefully people will stop throwing everything everywhere, or even dumping it into the landscape.

Regarding garbage, there are unfortunately still many problems in Panama and Costa Rica. Very, very many things are simply still burned in the garden at home instead of being recycled and disposed of. But it is slowly getting better.

Torio, Panama

People of different origins live in the village, many Europeans and Americans, who have built a retirement home there and now enjoy their retirement. But there are also young people who want to build something there or make a dream come true. The plots of land there are quite cheap and the area is gradually becoming better developed. But there are also still locals, a school, some hostels, restaurants and a small shop where you can get the most necessary things. If you want more choice you have to drive to Mariato, about 20 minutes away. There are several supermarkets, several times a week a vegetable and fruit stand and much more. But if you really want to do some really big shopping, you have to drive all the way to Santiago.

There are no real roads yet and the electricity was actually gone for at least a short time every day (sometimes even more than 12 hours), but work is underway on the grid, so this should get better in the future. Many people know each other and the people there are very nice and helpful and we could have some interesting conversations.

Only twenty minutes away there is an organization directly on the beach which takes care of turtles. We were there at the beginning of December, a report can be found here.

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Conclusion and even more pictures

We enjoyed our time in Panama very much. It’s really great there. The people are nice and helpful, it is much cheaper than Costa Rica and you can find and observe countless animals and plants there as well. Maybe we will make it to this part of the world again sometime, we would be very happy to discover more of Panama.

Before our flight back to Germany we spent one more night in Panama City. The bus ride took about 4 hours and the taxi ride to the hotel near the airport cost $40. Much more expensive than in Santiago, but we were already prepared for that. But for the route it was ok. Unfortunately we didn’t see much of Panama City anymore, although it is certainly a very beautiful city with a lot to discover. On the way by bus we could have a look at the entrance to the Panama Canal, at the ocean and countless skyscrapers.

Panama has something to offer for everybody, there are some tourist hotspots, e.g. the island Bocas del Toro. Those who are more into nature and quietness can definitely have a look at the area around Torio. We can definitely recommend it and were really sad when it was time to say goodbye and fly back to Germany. After a few days we went on to Vienna, but that is a story for another day.

At the end now a stack of pictures. This time just randomly, birds, Panama City, bats, nature … 🙂

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