There is a place in the forest in Panama that everyone who has visited has fallen in love with, and everyone who didn't go wishes they had, and it is called The Lost and Found Lodge. The Lost and Found hostel is tucked away in the La Fortuna cloud forest somewhere between David and Bocas Del Toro and requires around a 20-minute hike into the forest to find it. It is quite the adventure getting to the hostel for the first time. You have to take a bus heading in the direction of the hostel and tell them you are going to Lost and Found. Leaving from Boquete, I took the bus heading to David and was dropped off a couple hours later on the side of the road next to the sign for the hostel. After you are dropped off you look for the marked trail and begin your hike. It’s an uphill hike, but there are hand painted motivational signs along the way to let you know how close you are and keep you on the right track.
My first morning waking up at Lost and Found I stumbled out of my dorm room to the most spectacular view I have ever seen, above the trees, overlooking lush, green mountains, with the pure blue sky backdrop. I stopped dead in my tracks, jaw dropped, the first moment I saw it in the daylight. There was a day when it stormed and even though it was dark and cloudy it was still the perfect place to read a book in a hammock, or do some writing at the table while sipping warm lemongrass tea.
I spent four days at the Lost and Found Lodge, the longest time I spent consecutively in one place on my trip in Central America, and honestly could have spent more. For one thing, they have a ton of things to do, some are free, self-guided day trips that they provide maps to, and some paid, but still cheap, guided tours. Everything from organic coffee tours to waterfalls, river canyons, and scavenger hunts. While I was there I did the organic coffee tour for $25, and I went to the river canyons which was a free self-guided tour, but if I could go back I also would go to at least one of the two waterfalls and would take the hot springs tour. I had friends who did the scavenger hunt that took them almost all day to finish and said it was challenging, but worth it, and a good way to explore the forest around the hostel.
Every night they cook dinner for everyone that signs up, which in my experience was most of the people staying, but you have free range to use the kitchen if you like. Dinner was usually chicken, rice with lentils, with salad, and served around 6 pm. Everyone would gather in the open common area and sit at the picnic tables and eat dinner together. That’s where I made my first group of friends at the hostel. Nothing like sharing a meal at a table with a group of strangers to break the ice! At 8 pm was happy hour in the hostel bar, AKA a room with a refrigerator, someone on staff to buy drinks from, music, and a bunch of fun games you have probably never heard of that will be the best games you play in your life.
The Lost and Found Lodge is the perfect place for rest or adventure, for new friends, and for peace and quiet; whatever you are looking for on your trip to Panama you will find here. At Lost and Found we spent our days exploring until dinner, and our nights playing games and drinking $1 Balboa beer in what my friend John called a “twinkling shack of revelry thrown in the middle of the woods,” and it was so much fun. I found myself in a group of people from America, England, Scotland, Germany, and Australia with an edge over the American biased card games, and an experience that can’t quite be explained and will never be replicated. Before some of my friends left we were eating breakfast together when one of them said, "I feel like there are so many secrets at this table and at the same time none at all." and if you spend a weekend at Lost and Found I would expect nothing less.