Dubai was open for business, to all intents and purposes. Malls, restaurants, bars and museums were all operating fully, though with reduced capacity, and the metro was uncomfortably crowded at all times. São Paulo felt like a city that knew harsher restrictions were coming (they just have) and decided to double down in a last ditch roll of the hedonist dice. The consequences were there for all to understand, but I was fortunate to have both seen many facets of this incredible city and managed to move on at the right moment.

Panama, however, has been my first true taste of a more subdued and limited travel experience. There have been no late night bar hopping adventures or gourmet dining experiences, and not a single museum has been available to me. The time I had allocated to the country meant that visiting either beach or rainforest would be difficult at the best of times, but nigh on impossible with the limited transport options on offer. But a combination of full daytime mobility, a fantastic hostel, and even better Couchsurfing hosts over the lockdown weekend mean that I have fully exploited the resources Panama has made available to me.

Street art aplenty, a beautiful old colonial district visited and revisited, cooking evenings in, and the comfort of the most hipster of backpacker dwellings have made this a very enjoyable week, certainly much better than anticipated. With this experience under my belt, I am now a lot more confident that with very careful research and planning, I will be able to get the most out of the next few destinations whilst staying safe at the same time. As an unashamedly glass-half-full person, I can honestly say that I like how this is going. But that may be because it’s a glass of Abuelo rum and ginger ale…

For the full album of Panama, with not a single hat to be seen, please see here.

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