Episode 177 – A Bit More Panama

January 26, 2022. 27°F/81°C


It’s the first of 6 seas days in a row, so I had lots of time to look more closely at the pictures Ted took yesterday in Panama City.

When he’s not taking pictures of things I know I want to blog about, he’s always on the lookout for interesting flora and fauna. Here are a few of the things he captured yesterday that were neither architecture nor food.

The national tree of Panama since 1969 is the aptly named “Panama tree” (below). Walking through the ruins of Panama Viejo, our tour group was fascinated by the heart-shaped seed pods, both on the ground and in the tree. Fortunately, our guide told us just in time not to stroke the furry-looking interior, since the orange hairs can cause intense pain when touched. The black seeds are inedible raw by humans, but can be boiled or roasted and are a rich source of antioxidants. The red squirrel we saw happily munching on them must be really healthy!

We’re in the wrong season to see the vibrant orange and purple blossoms, but the tree was laden with seed pods.
A huge untrimmed sabal palmetto (below). Our guide told us that this tree’s leaves are often used for thatched roofs. Compare the size of the tree to the fully-grown adults beside it!
A massive old Banyan tree, showing its characteristic aerial roots.
A pair of Golden-Bellied Flycatchers sitting in a tree in the Casco Viejo.
One of many termite nests built on a tree branch. I don’t really want to know if the nest is sticky (ewww), but HOW does it balance there?
Ant hills for leaf-cutter ants, the largest of which was about 15 inches/38 cm across and 10 inches/25 cm tall. These ants get mixed reactions from Panamanian gardeners since they can gradually strip a lot of leaves from a tree. On the other hand, they don’t bite humans, and the “leftovers” and excrement brought back to the surface to form these hills are great fertilizer.

Fun fact: Leaf-cutter ants don’t actually eat the leaf portions that they cut. The leaves are food for a fungus that the ants “farm”, and that fungus is the ants’ only food.
A green parakeet that Ted didn’t notice he’d caught until he zoomed in on his photo after we got back to the ship!

I spent the rest of today devouring the first book in a new detective series set in LA, Deep into the Dark, by P J Tracy, while Ted (more motivated than I) did laps of Deck 2. There were, as usual, lots of lectures available, and even a beginners tango class, but we opted just to do our own thing – after all, we’re “at home” here until the middle of May.

We capped off our day with dinner in Manfredi’s with Cindy & Aleem, yet another really interesting couple we’ve met on board. They’ve been in the U.S for many, many years, but are both former Canadians, so we had some reminiscing in common.

Highlights from tonight’s dinner, clockwise from top left: Ricotta and pumpkin ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan. Chicken parmigiana with wilted rapini. Fettuccine with fresh tomato sauce. Ricotta cheesecake garnished with candied citrus and sugared berries.

Replete with deliciousness, we headed for the theatre to take in a tango revue featuring Argentinian dance duo Victor Mongelos and Denysa Ferreira. Not only was the dancing terrific, but also the NINE costume changes in the 45 minute show.

I have another book queued up for tomorrow, so it’s likely there won’t be a new post. We’re also moving ahead another hour overnight, putting us on “Nova Scotia time”. Rest assured, even if there’s no daily blog, we’re still safe and happy aboard the Viking Star!


  1. I loved P J Tracy’s Monkeewrench series so I am excited you mentioned her new series. I’ve added it to my list of books to read.
    Are there chocolate desserts available every night and y’all aren’t choosing them or are there not that many chocolate options? Chocohollics want to know, please!


    • There’s always chocolate in several forms (the gelato in particular is to die for!), but because it’s my favourite at “home”, I’m trying to branch out into other flavours. Plus, there are Toblerone bars replenished in our stateroom every day! (I’ll try to post some chocaholic items in the next few days)


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