Everyone has been talking about Hostal La Morenita, the newest lodging option in Paso Canoas, so I decided to explore for myself this weekend. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Prices are in keeping with other options in town, yet you get so much more for those same prices.
The facility is clean, has comfortable, common outside space and social areas, modern, efficient air conditioning, comfortable beds, wi-fi, and even a small internet cafe with late model hardware and monitors. Meals are prepared by the owners, Ricardo and Nilka, and I thoroughly enjoyed my favorite typical Panamanian plate---Corvina al ajillo, patacones, mixed green salad, and an ice cold cerveza Atlas. Although it's being called a hostal, La Morenita is much nicer than hostals I've visited in Panama City. The rooms are in line with those of Cabinas Romy, in the center of Paso Canoas, however La Morenita's fixtures are much nicer and there is no comparison regarding atmosphere and service. La Morenita is heads above in that aspect as well.
Located about 3 km outside the downtown area, in a town called Canoas Arriba, La Morenita is located on the Panama side of a road that divides it from Costa Rica. This proved a great advantage for me, because I was able to drive my car all the way to the hostal. When staying previously in Costa Rican facilities, I couldn't take my car across. I had to park somewhere on the Panama side and either hail a taxi or shoulder my heavy bags back and forth. In addition to less than pleasant downtown accommodations, I always worried about how safe my car was. This time it wasn't a concern.
Others have remarked on how pleasant and service-oriented the owner Ricardo and his wife are. I can only agree with everything that has been said about them. Last night Ricardo introduced me to some locals who had stopped in. We all enjoyed good conversation and a pleasant visit outside on the terrace. Jokingly, I told Ricardo I wanted Corvina al ajillo and patacones for breakfast. After having two cups of delicious cafe con leche, this morning. I was served the following breakfast, which I inhaled almost as quickly as last night's dish.
The only less than pleasant aspect of the entire visit was discovering I had a flat front tire in the morning. I had noticed a slight vibration when I was driving into David, but after stopping at a gas station and putting air in all tires, the guy there assured me all was well. Apparently I had ran over something, though. Even this was easily handled by Ricardo, who possessed an air compressor and inflated the tire so I could drive to a tire store.
I am thrilled to have "found" this place, recommended by expats who've been here before me. I selfishly hesitated a bit regarding publishing this post, because I know that the quality of the accommodations coupled with the pleasant atmosphere and excellent cooking will make La Morenita highly sought by those who frequent Paso Canoas for shopping or visa runs. I discussed with Ricardo my fears that his creation, open for business for only six months, will become so popular that demand will raise prices and bring about other changes. He responded that he is hoping to be able to keep prices fair and maintain the service quality with full occupancy. One can certainly hope that remains the case.
If you are planning a trip to Paso Canoas in the near future, this would be my first recommendation, bar none. Where in the past I absolutely dreaded going to Paso Canoas, this time I sort of wished I had more time to spend there.