Questions for Richard in Panama

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7,070 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
What can you or anyone tell me about the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institue and what is the best way to visit there from Puerto Amador. We are thinking this would be a good place to go after our morning tour on May 1. Also does "May Day" present any problems in Panama?

Thanks, again, for all your good information.
1,068 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Bucky, I'm not Richard, but did this recently and would like to reply. We had a great and inexpensive day at Fuerte Amador. We walked to Punta Culebra Marine Exhibition Center run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and a restaurant nearby. The restaurant was called Mi Ranchito. It was about a 30 minute nice level stroll with great views and a nice breeze along the way. You could also take a cab from the tender dock as they were plentiful. Below is a link to our journal entry for the day.

Also, check the Center's website. You might contact them and ask about May Day.

Enjoy, Debbie
7,070 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
Thanks for that information, Debbie. Hope the cab drivers know where to go! I'm not sure we'd like to run into a bunch of black iguanas in the street as you did!!
7,070 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
Debbie - One more question - Did you find it "buggy" at this place, or for that matter anywhere during your cruise - mosquitoes, etc.?
1,068 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Bucky, I am sure that the cab drivers can find it. They have probably driven by it a hundred times. They have to drive by it to get to the Cruise Terminal! There is now an excellent map by the way on the Center's website that was not there before we went. Print it out! But, you can't miss it if you turn off at Mi Ranchito and just keep veering right to the end of the road and it is out on that point of land. As far as bugs, I know that we wore sunscreen that day and probably bug repellant. But, I don't recall have any problems with bugs there that day. I am sure it varies with the season and time of day and whether the wind is blowing, etc. Not sure where else you are going, but yes in our 60 days circling South America, we were in lots of very buggy places!
7,070 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
Thanks, Debbie. I'll look for the map. Our cruise is RT from LA - 19 days - Mexican ports - Cabo, PV, Huatulco, Pacific coastal ports - Costa Rica, Guatamala, Nicaragua, and the canal to Gatun Lake and back for our day near Panama City. Neither of us has ever had an allergic reaction to any insect bite until our last trip to Hawaii. DH was bitten by something - we never knew what - but ended up in the hospital for an afternoon in Hilo (our last port of call!). He had excellent care there and fortunately we were able to get back on the ship in time, and he had no further problems, but now we are much more bug conscious!! Long explanation for the reason for my question!
1,068 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Bucky, I completely understand. I tend to have bad reactions to bites as well, though haven't been to a hospital for one since a bee sting as a child. Still... I am sensitive to the bugs issue. I just don't remember seeing any in Panama that day, but I wear bug repellant and Buzz Off clothes anytime I am in a warm place and outdoors. Also, there is the issue of insect-borne diseases almost everywhere anymore, so you cannot be too careful in avoiding insect bites/stings in my opinion. Sounds like a good cruise. Here is a link to a journal we kept in Jan. 2006 that covered some of that same area, in case it helps you any. Enjoy, Debbie
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,194 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Hi Bucky! The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute [STRI] is an institution in Panama having been here since 1923. Debbie is right they have a small, rather meager, display at Punto Cuelebra (the name should not scare you off!) which is on one of the little islands that were joined together with earth from digging the Canal to form Amador Peninsula. There's a map on the STRI site and it is a nice and doable walk from the Amador pier for most folks. Debbie is also correct about the Mi Ranchito restaurant which has a beautiful view of the city.

The bigger STRI facility is at Barro Colorado which you pass on full Canal transits. It is possible to visit, but is an all day process requiring advance reservations, and means leaving the STRI dock at 7AM and returning at 4PM, so it just isn't possible for most cruise passengers. Scientists come from all over the world to do research on Barro Colorado. Check out the STRI Web site - it's very interesting! [Thanks Bucky! Good idea . . . I'll have to write something about our visit to STRI on my blog.]

May Day . . . as in most of the world outside the US, it is our "Labor Day." I'm sure there will be some token demonstrations, but for most people its a family holiday . . . and the last until November. [Yes! Some uninterrupted work time!]

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
7,070 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
I printed out the map, and I think this is what we'll plan to do on our afternoon. Now, I'm wondering if they will be open on May 1 if that's a holiday there? Always more questions it seems !!