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NEW Habla Ya Spanish School in Bocas del Toro!

Posted by | September 26th, 2011

When we opened our first Spanish School in Panama we never imagined how many lives would be touched by our small venture in the quaint mountain town of Boquete. Six years ago, our Spanish School in Boquete only had 3 classrooms and a team of 3 Spanish teachers. Nowadays, more than 30 Panamanians are members of the Habla Ya Family and literally thousands of visitors from all over the world have chosen Boquete as their destination within Central America to learn or improve their Spanish.

Thinking about those 30+ staff members, and their families is definitively the most rewarding aspect about being an entrepreneur. But it's also amazing to think about all those people from the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, China and Australia, that because of Habla Ya Spanish Schools, have chosen Panama as their destination to learn Spanish instead of going to Mexico, Costa Rica or Argentina to learn Spanish. Not only has this allowed Habla Ya to keep growing year after year but we're also very proud about how many of our customers fill Boquete's hotels, eat at Boquete's restaurants, experience Boquete's eco-adventure tours, and some even decide to make Boquete their new home.

Habla Ya students come from all over the world

I am deeply convinced that everything has been possible because of the people that are part of Habla Ya. Each and everyone of our Spanish teachers and staff members is truly inspired about providing their students with the most amazing Spanish learning experience, and I know that they truly believe that one day Habla Ya will be considered and widely recognized as the most prestigious Spanish school in Latin America.

Year after year the Habla Ya family keeps growing and growing

Today that I have the fortune and the honor to officially share the news about our new Spanish School in Bocas del Toro, I can't help myself but to wildly dream about where we'll be in 6 years from now. We truly hope that our Spanish school in Bocas del Toro will have at least the same effect that our Spanish school in Boquete has had.

Today I would also like to formally invite every resident and business owner of Bocas del Toro to Habla Ya's grand inauguration on Saturday October 15th at 3 p.m. It will take place at Habla Ya Spanish School Campus Bocas del Toro which is located on the corner of 9th Street with G Avenue, across from the "Vive y Deja Vivir Restaurant", just a block before the public hospital. Hopefully we'll be able to get all the invites out in time, but if you don't receive it, consider yourself invited. And if you have what it takes to join our team, feel free to send your CV to

We are currently working very hard to get our Spanish School in Bocas del Toro ready for October 15th

Originally I came to Bocas del Toro to just get away from it all and be able to more effectively promote our Spanish School in Boquete. The plan was to just be here for 6 months, but more than a year later I have fallen in love with Bocas del Toro and I am very happy to call Bocas del Toro my new home. Coming to Bocas del Toro has proven to be one of the most wonderful adventures of my life. I now surf everyday I can, I have a wonderful new group of friends and my wife Rachel and my kids Rafael, William and Isabella have never been happier! Being here it's so easy to see how Bocas del Toro is the "natural choice" for Habla Ya's second campus. For several years we have been thinking about a beach destination to complement our Spanish school in Panama's western mountains and Bocas del Toro is simply the perfect match.

With my son Rafael at Bluff Beach on Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro

If you would like to know more about Bocas del Toro and about why its the perfect beach town to learn Spanish, or just for a Panama vacation, you can find more information here.

And finally I would really like to take advantage of the occasion and thank all of those who have made Habla Ya possible:

  • all of Habla Ya's staff, but specially Lorena Pitti, our School Director, and Ericka Tapia, our Academic Coordinator who have been with us from the beginning. Also a special thank you to Janeth Martinez, our Academic Director who continually leads our teachers to aspire for excellence and is the main responsible for Habla Ya Campus Boquete recently becoming an Official DELE Examination Center and obtaining accreditation from the Instituto Cervantes, the worldwide authority for Spanish teaching as a foreign language. I would also like to thank the "second generation" of Habla Ya's teachers who have continued to raise the quality of our school: Swan, Arelis, Ismenia, Mónica, Minerva, Aráliz and Malkidia. And even though it's too early to mention names, there are several "rising stars" within the Habla Ya family and we are looking forward to enable and witness their development and just see where they take Habla Ya to
  • all of Habla Ya's more than 70 host families, that provide our students with an amazing Spanish immersion experience: without all of you, it really wouldn't be the same for our students
  • all of the local hostels and hotels who have hosted our students throughout the years: specially Miguel from Mamallena, Axel from Pension Topas, Eva and Sabine from Isla Verde, Jason and Susan from the Boquete Garden Inn, Analia, Thalia and Sam (who may RIP and taught me just by being himself so many things) from Valle Escondido, and David, Charlie and Sandra from the Panamonte Inn & Spa, and Sonia and Howard from the Haven Spa & Hotel
  • all of the crew from Explora Ya Eco-Tours & Adventure Travel, Habla Ya's official tour providers: without you our students wouldn't be able to have a blast after class! Also would like to thank Manolo from Rain Forest Tours for taking really good care of our students upon arrival and when leaving Panama City. To Jorge Tovar from Boquete Tree Trek for always being a consistent ally and always working hard to promote Boquete
  • to our landlords from Los Establos Boutique Hotel, Rob and Irina, for always having the time to listen to our needs, to provide us with simply the best location in Boquete, to encourage us and making us a bit wiser by sharing their experience in life
  • to Manolo Ruiz, the Mayor of Boquete for his continual support and enthusiasm, and for being the ONLY politician to not only listen to our needs, but to actually REALLY help us and not be an obstacle in this bureaucratic non-entrepreneurship friendly country called Panama
  • to all of our Spanish students worldwide who have chosen to study Spanish at our school, and to all of Boquete's new residents who have decided to learn Spanish and really become part of our community: thanks to you, we can survive our low season and keep all of our teachers hired full time. And a special mention to Marc Ngui from Bumblenut and Magda Wojtyra from RNA Studio, who during their trip to Boquete when Habla Ya was only several months old, unselfishly shared their knowledge and enlightened us with how to actually get the word out to the world about Habla Ya Spanish School. And another special mention to Lee Zeltzer from for providing our community with very effective platforms to communicate and for always sending a word out when we have special promo going on
  • to both sets of my grandparents, Abuelo Julio and Abuela Tuty for providing me with a roof and warm meals during my first year in Boquete when I was totally broke, and to Abuela Betty for lending me some cash when I was totally broke and to Abuelo Moyo for taking me to work at his farm when I was a little boy
  • to my Mom and Dad, Julio and Eva for guiding me to become who I am , providing me with unconditional love and with all the tools I needed to deal with life (and for investing in our idea although we were only 23 years old and had no idea at all about what we were getting into)
  • to Carlos Raúl, the best business partner and my best friend since we were teenagers, for working with me side by side, day and night, to make this happen, and to his wife and my wonderful friend, Evelyne, for taking over our Language Travel Consultants' department and opening the doors to new markets (and for finally getting Carlos to settle down!)
  • and last but not least, to my very best friend, life partner and the love of my life, Rachel, for always challenging and inspiring me, to be the best man I can be for you and our family, for giving me the most amazing family, making me the happiest man on Earth, and for choosing to share this adventure and pursuit of happiness with me that we call life

I'm sorry for not being able to mention everybody I should: I AM AND WILL ETERNALLY BE GRATEFUL!

And hopefully in 3 years time when the Metro System is finished in Panama City, and living over there is not as painful as it is right now because of the traffic, we can be celebrating the opening of our Spanish School in Panama City... but for now, lets enjoy learning Spanish in Bocas del Toro!

Bocas del Toro is the ideal place for a Spanish learning vacation!



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Posted in Beaches, Bocas del Toro, Habla Ya, Panama Destinations, Panama News, Vacations

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Chiriqui Gulf Marine National Park Camping Trip

Posted by | June 15th, 2011

Our Spanish school is full with students so this weekend we're heading out on a camping trip to the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park!

Weather wise, Boquete has been really nice during the last couple of weeks (nice fresh temperatures with lots of sunshine) and we're hoping that the "veranito de San Juan" that we've been enjoying keeps doing its thing so that we can continue to enjoy all of the wonderful weekend activities that we've planned for our students' Spanish learning summer holiday...

The Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park has become one of the most popular destinations for our Spanish students during the weekends and it's easy to see why: pristine beaches, uninhabited islands (with very few or no tourists at all), abundant wildlife (coral, fishes, dolphins, turtles, whales, crocodiles, birds...) and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors (sport fishing, sea kayaking, snorkeling, surfing or just lying in the sun...)

Every visitor falls in love with the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park
Every visitor falls in love with the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park


The plan is to camp either at Bolaños Island or Gámez. Both islands are simply stunning. Wherever we camp you'll get to visit both because if we camp at Isla Bolaños on the next day we'll spend the morning at Gámez Island and hopefully on our way there, we'll get to see some dolphins! Isla Gámez is smaller but the water surrounding it tends to be clearer and the white sand beach is longer. Bolaños is a larger island with more opportunities to hike and explore. Both have decent snorkeling spots with plenty of coral and fish to enjoy. When visibility is good you can easily spend hours under the water... just be careful with the currents!

Spanish student with our Customer Experience Director, Swan Bozzi, in front of Isla Gámez
Spanish student with our Customer Experience Director, Swan Bozzi, in front of Isla Gámez


So, as promised, here is the itinerary for this weekend's Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park Island Trip:

Saturday June 18th

Howler Monkey with baby at Isla Palenque in the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park in Panama

  • 6 a.m. - Depart from Boquete to Boca Chica
  • 8:30 a.m. - Arrive to Boca Chica and breakfast at local restaurant
  • 9:30 a.m. - Take the boat to Isla Palenque for a short jungle hike
  • 11:00 a.m. - After hiking and taking photos of some howler monkeys head towards Gámez or Bolaños Island (keep your fingers crossed for some dolphin action)
  • 11:30 a.m. - Arrival to island. Beach time: cold beers or snorkeling!
  • 1:00 p.m. - Lunch
  • 2:00 p.m. - More beach time!
  • 4:00 p.m. - Afternoon snack
  • 5:00 p.m. - Setup camp
  • 6:00 p.m. - Dinner time
  • 7:00 p.m. - Camp-fire, wine, stories and wild island party!

Dolphins spotted during one of our trips to the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park

Sunday June 19th

Volleyball session in the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park

  • 7:00 a.m. - Breakfast
  • 8:00 a.m. - Volleyball tournament
  • 9:30 a.m. - Depart to next island for more snorkeling, beach time and another chance to spot dolphins
  • 10:30 a.m. - Snacks, fruit and cold drinks
  • 1:00 p.m. - Depart back to main land
  • 1:30 p.m. - Lunch at Boca Chica (fresh fish or upgrade to lobster for $5 more!)
  • 3:00 p.m. - Head back to Boquete
  • 5:00 p.m. - Arrival to Boquete

For Habla Ya Spanish students this trip will cost only $135 per person (and $150 per person for non students). Price includes:

  • Roundtrip transportation Boquete to Boca Chica and all of the boat trips (to Isla Palenque, Bolaños and Gámez)
  • Meals (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner), snacks, cold beer, soft drinks and fruit
  • Comfortable Camping gear: tent, sleeping bag, mat, flashlight, first aid kit, tarp


What to bring? A towel, a couple of changes of cloth, swim-wear, sun-block, mosquito repellent, passport or copy of it, camera, extra water and a back-pack.

If you're in Panama at the moment, join us and don't miss it! The Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park is the highlight of many visitors' Panama vacation.

Couple at Bolaños Island in the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park
Couple at Bolaños Island in the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park



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Posted in Adventure Travel, Beaches, Chiriqui, Chiriqui Gulf, Ecotourism, Experience, Habla Ya, Panama Destinations, Panama Road Trips, Panama Travel, Vacations

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2011 Summer Spanish Learning Vacation | Calendar of Events

Posted by | May 2nd, 2011

When choosing a Spanish School in Central America you want to make sure to not only select a Spanish school with great reviews, but you also want a Spanish school with a vast curriculum of extra activities. After all, if you're making such a long journey, why just learn Spanish? Go to a place where you can learn the Spanish language and also LIVE an amazing vacation!

Our mission statement here at Habla Ya Spanish School is quite simple: provide the most amazing Spanish learning experience! And to be up to that, we have to make sure that each and every Spanish student not only really learns Spanish and enjoys the learning process inside of the classroom, but we also have to make sure that each student literally has a blast after class!

Upon arrival to our Spanish school, one of the first things that you will encounter is a white board with the weekly schedule of activities:

Activities for the Week of May 2nd 2011. Artwork by our Customer Experience Director, Swan Bozzi
Activities for the Week of May 9th 2011. Artwork by Swan Bozzi, our Customer Experience Director

To sign up for any of these really great activities you just have to write your name down on the lists that you will find all around the school or in front of Swan's (our Customer Experience Director) desk.

Besides all the extra activities from Monday to Friday, we put special care into organizing really amazing school trips during the weekends.

The summer months of June and July are very popular times of the year for us and many students are looking to take advantage of our Panama road trips during the weekends of their Spanish learning vacation. With this in mind, we have organized a calendar of events for all the weekends during June and July so that our students can make the most of their precious time during the weekends, experience many different places in Panama and do it at the lowest cost possible. When you organize a road trip with a lot of people, certain costs, such as transportation are shared amongst everybody and you can have access to better deals for many tours. On the other hand, traveling and doing stuff with a nice group of beautiful people is always better than doing it by yourself!

Now, if you've already signed up to study Spanish at our school, and there is something that you would really like to do, just let us know and we'll try to include it in our calendar. Feel free to leave a comment on this post...

In the following weeks, we will start publishing specific itineraries for each weekend, but as of now, this is how the summer calendar looks at Habla Ya Spanish School!

  • Sunday June 5th: Whitewater River Rafting on the Chiriqui Viejo, $75 per person
  • Saturday June 11th to Sunday June 12th: Camping Trip at the Chorcha Monkey Reserve, $155 per person and $175 per person non students
  • Saturday June 18th to Sunday June 19th: Island Weekend Trip to the Chiriqui Gulf Marine National Park, $135 for students and $150 per person for non students
  • Saturday June 25th to Sunday June 26th: Camping Excursion to the Top of Volcan Baru, $135 per person and $150 per person non students
  • Saturday July 2nd to Sunday July 3rd: Las Lajas Beach Trip, $95 per person and $125 per person non students
  • Saturday July 9th to Sunday July 10th: Bocas del Toro Weekend Trip
  • Friday July 15th to Sunday July 17th: Cerro Punta Overnight Trip
  • Saturday July 23rd to Sunday July 24th: Soloy Overnight
  • Saturday July 30th to Sunday July 31st: La Barqueta Beach Trip, $125 per person and $150 per person non students

We've made sure to include mountains, rivers, beach, culture and ecotourism... something for everybody to enjoy. So if you want to learn Spanish and discover Panama, what are you waiting for to Sign Up & Register? You can find more information about our lodging options, Spanish courses and Spanish programs by exploring our website.

So what do you think? Are you ready for an intense summer full of Spanish learning and Panama exploration? Feel free to leave a comment!

Habla Ya Spanish students at Isla Parida, Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park
Habla Ya Spanish students at Isla Parida, Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park


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Tags: learn spanish summer, panama summer vacation, spanish courses summer, spanish programs summer
Posted in Boquete, Chiriqui, Chiriqui Gulf, Experience, Habla Ya, Panama Destinations, Panama Road Trips, Vacations

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Spring Break 2011 Vacation Special: Free Eco-Adventure Tours in Panama

Posted by | February 15th, 2011

If you can't join us this spring, checkout our low season discounts for Spanish classes during April and May 2011.

Have you been spring breaking for years but can't always remember what you did? A bit of crazy partying and wild nights is fine but how about investing some of that well earned and saved cash in a Spanish learning vacation in Panama?

Spring Break 2011 Deals at Habla Ya


You'll not only be able to meet people from all over the world, explore a new country and discover our culture, but on top of that you'll also get a chance to experience a unique set of eco-adventure tours in Boquete and learn or improve your Spanish skills, which will on the other hand, push your career opportunities.

And during the weekends, we can all let our hair down in the Chiriqui Gulf and enjoy some serious sunshine and beach time.

Habla Ya Spanish students at the Chiriqui Gulf
Habla Ya Spanish students at the Chiriqui Gulf


So, what's the spring break deal here at Habla Ya? It's very simple in fact: start your 2 week Spanish course in March and you'll get two eco-adventure tours for free, completely on us!

You can select 2 tours from any of the following:

  • Half Day Hikes, on our Secret Hiking Trails
  • A trip to the Hot Springs & Petroglyhps in Caldera
  • Boquete Panoramic Tour
  • Boquete Coffee Tour
  • A visit to some pretty amazing Hidden Natural Swimming Pools
  • Horseback Riding Tour

Or you can select one of the following:

Besides the above, there are many other tours that you can join during the weekends at an additional cost such as white water river rafting, hikes to the top of Volcan Baru and excursions to the islands of the Chiriqui Gulf National Park.

From Monday to Friday you'll have half a day of Spanish classes, and you will be able to spend the other half of the day exploring beautiful and exciting Boquete and its surroundings.

Spanish classes at Habla Ya
Spanish classes at Habla Ya

Prices per week for 20 hours of lessons go from $150 - $295 per week, depending on the amount of weeks you book and on if you have private Spanish classes or group Spanish lessons.


The following conditions apply: a minimum of 40 hours of lessons per student is required. Your course must begin on any of the following Mondays: March 14th, 21st or 28th.

Would you like to see what a Spanish language learning vacation is like? Don't miss the following video!


And those who can, shouldn't miss the opportunity to arrive a week earlier and experience Panama's Carnival. Here at Habla Ya we'll be organizing day trips from Saturday March 5th - Tuesday March 8th, to Dolega, Gualaca and Las Lajas, and some of our Spanish students have plans to go to the Azuero peninsula (Las Tablas and Chitre), Penonome and Bocas del Toro.

Spanish Students at the Carnival in Dolega
Spanish Students at the Carnival in Dolega



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Tags: panama spring break 2011, panama tours, panama vacation, spanish course offers
Posted in Ecotourism, Habla Ya, Offers & Discounts, Panama Travel, Vacations

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Casco Viejo: A Panama Vacation Must Do…

Posted by | February 11th, 2011

"Many of our Spanish students spend a night or two in Panama City before making their way to Boquete. We always give them advice about what to do in Panama City and where to stay, but nothing can beat the insider knowledge of somebody from the heart and soul of Panama City: El Casco Viejo. The following is a guest contribution by Matt Landau, from Panama Rentals in Casco Viejo."

In a country known geographically as the heart of the Americas, Panama City is usually the first stop for travelers on a Panama vacation. Tocumen Airport, located 20 minutes from downtown, is responsible for the majority of incoming international flights and for visitors looking for a little bit of city life before heading West, to the Azuero Peninsula, Chiriqui or Bocas del Toro, Panama City offers several days worth of activities and sights.

Vacation musts while in Panama City consist of a visit to the Miraflores Locks Museum at the Panama Canal, a walk around the ruins of Panama Viejo, lunch on the scenic Amador Causeway, and a breezy walk down the streets of Casco Viejo: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the core of art and culture in the nation’s capital.

Casco Viejo in Panama City
Casco Viejo in Panama City

Aside from its modern cafes and restaurants, the pedestrian friendly neighborhood of Casco Viejo breathes authenticity. Explore its various museums and churches or simply indulge in the views from a historic cobblestone neighborhood sharply contrasted by the cosmopolitan skyline of downtown Panama City.

Panama City's Culture, Consolidated

If ever you plug into a legitimate debate about the social dynamic of Panama City (and by legitimate I mean anyone who suggests Calle Uruguay is irrelevant), the word you will most often hear is not cosmopolitan or advanced or even modern.

The word you will hear the most is Casco. And regardless of whether the context is positive (“Casco is developing a really nice restaurant scene”), negative (“Casco is too dangerous so I avoid it at all costs”), or merely expository (“Casco sells ice cream that tastes good”), people are obsessed in one way or another with the historic district of Casco Viejo: the views, the challenges, and the history that have come to mimic authenticity in the Republic of Panama.

Plaza Francia y el Paseo de las Bóveadas en el Casco Viejo
Plaza Francia y el Paseo de las Bóveadas en el Casco Viejo

Amidst a sea of change

Casco Viejo is probably the clearest illustration of Panamanian culture that exists in a city otherwise infatuated with the newest, the biggest, and the best. The backbone of Casco Viejo is its residents, both foreigner and local, who seem less swayed by the modern allures of the twenty first century. Casco Viejo doesn’t have a supermarket or a gym or really even an internet café. Casco doesn’t have a movie theater or a car wash or a place to rent a car.

Outsiders tend to view Casco Viejo as a renegade spot, good for a show at the National Theater once in a while or a dinner in the plaza (as long as they can get someone to valet their car). But this really isn’t accurate. Casco Viejo is more of a philosophy than a place. And unlike most new and populated neighborhoods in Panama City, Casco doesn’t know any chain stores or heavy traffic. It is stripped-down and connectedly authentic, with comparatively few changes since its chronicled past.

Plaza Simón Bolívar, Casco Viejo
Plaza Simón Bolívar, Casco Viejo

How accurately that description fits Casco Viejo’s residents is less clear: some residents represent raw culture simply because they are poor and have pretty much nothing else to do. Other (almost always wealthy and/or from other countries) are straightforward and uncompromising in their allegiance to the soul of the neighborhood. They are idealists and they are visionaries and they drive around in exceedingly luxurious cars.

Nonetheless, the current status of Casco Viejo development scene is thriving. As the gap between First World and Developing World closes, more and more people are starting to become drawn to what authentic, underground neighborhoods like Casco Viejo represent. Virtuosity has never been higher. Tourist groups have never been more curious or more dense.

Street characters

Just outside Super Gourmet Delicatessen floats Flacco (or at least that’s what everyone knows him by), a self-described “man of business.” While Flacco doesn’t generally have more than a few dollars to his name, he draws up scenery of Casco Viejo on cardboard slats and sells the portraits for around twenty-five cents. His portraits are similar in dexterity to those of a ten year old. He uses the profits he makes for food and, depending on the time of day, malt liquor.

Plaza Catedral, Casco Viejo, Panama City
Plaza Catedral, Casco Viejo, Panama City

Plaza Catedral, Casco Viejo’s biggest and most iconic plaza, comes alive at lunchtime with construction workers eating the $2 daily lunch special out of Styrofoam containers. Government employees in their suits and slacks buy fifty-cent hotdogs and twenty-cent chichas. And the clickety-clack of a schizophrenic man and his cane can be heard all the while as Henry scours the area for someone who speaks, as he puts it, “a new dialect of Hebrew and Spanish that is recently gaining popularity in Belize.” When asked where this new dialect is documented, he says it came to him one night in a dream.

It is and it isn’t

It’s difficult to say anything insightful about Casco Viejo, mostly because the neighborhood has already absorbed every possible criticism and accolade that she can entertain. While the main goal is convincing the Panamanian public about the merits of human patrimony, Casco’s diverse factions simultaneously couldn’t give a shit. “If you like gritty neighborhoods, you’re authentically invited to come and stay,” they seem to be saying. “If this isn’t your kind of place, you’re welcome to get the hell out.”

The Canal may be Panama City’s greatest asset (or so everyone says), but Casco Viejo is my pick. I can’t think of a neighborhood that’s harder not to fall in love with, nor one that harbors so much reality and dealings with its sense of self. In some outsiders’ eyes, this is precisely what Panama needs to avoid: streets that are uneven, menus without English translation, buildings that are old and crumbly. But to others, Casco is one of the last remaining bastions of the old-world magic amidst a capital city racing desperately and frantically into the future.


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Tags: casco viejo, panama city, panama vacation
Posted in Panama City, Panama Destinations, Panama Travel, Vacations

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