By David Dell
There is a unique Bed and breakfast in the Panamanian port city of Puerto Armuelles. Located in the Las Palmas district of Puerto – that offers a night (or more) in a museum.
Built by the United Fruit Company in the 1920’s, these homes were accommodation for their executives and higher-end workers.
Earthquakes and termites have ravaged these homes at various times but happily this part of Panama’s history is mainly intact.
The owner is the affable and animated Anibal Eugenio Ortiz. Anibal runs this B&B with his wife Aracelly. Amazingly, the cost per night in these neat and well appointed rooms from $60 a night. Making it more affordable than any good hotel in the area. To book a room at this Museum or Specialist boutique B&B is by appointment, the details are at the end of this article.
Anibal greeted my wife and I in the front garden. Which is best described as being, well how can I phrase this . . . Latino quirky. Strewn across the lawn are a dozen or so old Singer sewing machines.
Nearby is a huge- and I mean HUGE cooking pot. This looks something cannibals might have used. It was in fact employed by the original canal builders (The French) to feed their army of workers.
To the far side of the garden is a manually driven rail cart. This narrow gauge vehicle sits on some of the last remnants of rail track that once crossed most of this province.
We enter the house by a wooden stair case and the first thing you notice is the beautifully polished hardwood floors. Then the various aspects of this museum-come-B&B start to show themselves.
It’s truly fascinating as on each side table or cabinet is something from Panama’s past. From an ancient stone tool that built a family to a surveyor's level that built the early roads and railways. Anibal, who thankfully speaks excellent English, guides you through each and every fascinating historical artefact.
This is of course is a B&B and with the help of his charming wife, Aricelly, we are shown the various bedrooms. They are neat, spacious and with en-suite bathrooms. I would happily spend many nights in this museum if I was exploring this part of Panama.
On the wall I spot a familiar photograph of the Avenida Central in Panama City. I will not give away the secret, but if you visit the museum see if you can spot the mystery in this photograph.
Anibal, proudly displays what appears to be an original share certificate from the time of the French canal. This is most probably the most valuable item on display.
Across the room is an old RCA radio. You can imagine days when people huddled close to these old radios and listened intently to the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, or the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945. These old valve driven radios gave people an ear to the happenings of the world.
Wait! there's more . . . much much more.
On the ground floor there are many other artifacts including this fairly innocuous looking coffee grinder.
Except, this is no ordinary machine this was President Arnulfo Arias's Coffee Grinder.
Also there is a rather rusty cannonball, again, nothing ordinary.
This is in fact one of Pirate, Sir Henry Morgans' balls.
A picture tells a thousand words, well this picture of a violin is worth a thousand chickens . . .
Just ask Anibal to tell you the story.
To book an appointment at the Museum or to book a night at the B&B please email Anibal at:
or call Anibal at:(507) 6204-2598