It was a long drive out to Santa Catalina on the Pacific coast of Panama. A fair chunk of the journey was along the modern, yet still under construction, Pan-American Highway. As with most afternoons this time of the year, it rained. When in rains here it’s usually of the heavy variety. I was slightly concerned about my bag being on the roof rack but Efrain the driver had tied the cover over well and everything turned out to be dry.

Upon arrival the torrential rain had subsided and the parity of heat and humidity had returned. There’s a fair few dogs in Santa Catalina and it’s hard not to feel sorry for them. They either seem to be sheltering from the storms, lying in the shade or walking around puffing and panting from the humidity.

To say Santa Catalina is a bit of an outpost is somewhat of an understatement. The nearest cash machine is about a two-hour drive away. WiFi is virtually non-existent. There is one shop in the village and to be fair their prices are reasonable. A can of beer is 80 cents, only 12c more than the supermarket that we stopped off at this morning. Santa Catalina has traditionally been a fishing village but has developed into a surfing destination, albeit on a much smaller scale that somewhere like Puerto Viejo. It was actually quite nice to visit an underdeveloped place. After being highly impressed by the amazing beaches on the islands off Boca del Toro, the beach here was a bit underwhelming. There were no golden sands, crystal clear water and after sticking my foot in, the water wasn’t especially warm!

Santa Catalina has about a dozen restaurants although some of these seemed to be shut with it currently being out of high season. We found a Mexican restaurant serving decent tacos and margaritas. Probably the highlight of the time in Santa Catalina was tonight’s walk home along an unlit road. Towns with populations of 300 don’t tend to generate much light pollution. This ensured that the stars on display tonight were extraordinary, truly magical.

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Driving along the Pan-American Highway
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One of the Santa Catalina beaches
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