Monkeys, crocodiles, and jaguars — oh my!

Monkeys, crocodiles, and jaguars — oh my!

When last I left you, I was walking out of an elevator with seven other Sabbath-observant humans.

Enough of that, on to the food. As you all know, you ask five people a question about almost anything and you can get five different opinions. Same goes with restaurants. This is the best one, no, that is the best one. Don’t go here, definitely go there, and so on and so on and what have you.

Well, let me tell you something about the restaurants in Panama. They are all fine, but if you don’t speak Spanish and you are a picky eater, you might end up with avocado on your omelet, and if you are Husband #1, that is a fate worse than, well, something bad.

For some reason, the waiters in Panama do not speak English. Now, I totally understand that I am in your country and I should speak your language, but, come on! This is food! Isn’t food the universal language? Apparently not.

Here is what I learned. If you ask for “dressing on the side,” the waiter thinks you are going to take off your dress and put it on the side. True story — the look of horror I received from my poor waiter when I apparently told him in Spanish that I want my dress to be put on the side was one I will not soon forget. You have to say that you want the “salad dressing” on the side. It’s a totally different phrase. Live and learn.

Every single restaurant we went to was clean, spacious, and beautifully decorated. Since we were there in the off season they were relatively quiet, but every website says you should make reservations.

People told us that Panama was a great place to go because the Ubers are cheap and there are a million kosher restaurants and almost as many synagogues. Needless to say, Husband #1 was in heaven. He could take a $2 Uber to synagogue and have a kosher hamburger delivered there, if he so desired.  Truthfully, I am surprised he got on the plane to come home.

In any event, Husband #1 knew that he had to do a good job with this vacation. As you all might have figured out by this point, he is scared of me. I am not really sure why, but he is. He did a lot of research for this trip, and the boy did good. His first step was going to Go Kosher Panama (.com) They were able to do security clearances for all the synagogues, which for Husband #1 is the most important part of the trip.

The next thing Go Kosher Panama does is bring us to Monkey Adventures.

Monkey Adventures is a tour company led by Alejandro Lafont, who is the nicest and most patient man. More importantly, his knowledge of the history of Panama is incredible. My dad would have really enjoyed talking to him about how the Panama Canal started canalling (not a word, but, whatever) in 1914, and how in 2007 they had to make it bigger to accommodate all the huge ships that go back and forth. How, in the morning, the ships sail from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and in the afternoon they go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. (Or the other way around. I am not my father or Alejandro, I am just proud of myself for remembering which oceans we saw.)

You can choose from many different tours, and Alejandro or one of his other guides transports you there and gives you an incredible adventure. We chose to go to Monkey Island and then to the rainforest with him. Yes, Husband #1 went to a rainforest. Fun fact — it does not always rain in the rainforest and Holler Monkeys are called Holler Monkeys because they holler to scare off predators. They also scared Husband #1, because they sound more like lions than they do monkeys. Another fun fact.

Basically, the point of this column was to share with you that if you have the privilege of going to Panama, all the restaurants are lovely and you must use Monkey Adventures because if Alejandro had the ability to get Husband #1 and me safely through the forest, imagine what he can do for you! He can be reached at or

Hope you are all having a wonderful healthy summer!

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck was not compensated for this column, she just enjoys spreading the love. She also might get one more column out of this trip, because she has yet to share what happened to Husband #1’s watch. Now there is something to look forward to!

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