Panama City, Panama
March 24 – Present
Welcome to our first new country on this trip! We landed in Panama City over a week ago, and are on only one mission: Find a truck, Find it now. Update on that progress later.
Flying into Panama City was a bit of a shit show, to be honest. From what we have heard Air Panama is notorious for helping themselves to items in people’s checked baggage…. they even had a warning sign at the Check-in. Also, the Air Panama airport (not the international airport) is more like a building that just happens to contain some parts of an airport. The security and the customs were low in quality but high in entertainment value. Partially because they had us just point to the bags we wanted back, and some guy carried them over.
For the first few days, as we got our bearings, we stuck to a regime of truck research for half of the day and exploration for the other half. We have discovered that its a mistake to do it in that order, exploration must come before the heat wave. Research and repose must come after.
Panama City is actually quite walk-able. Long, hot, incredibly sweaty walks, but you can do it. Between down town and old town its only about 45 minutes along a seawall but its seriously over 35c everyday (only to get progressively hotter as we reach the rainy season). Its no fun to walk very far, but we do to save money.
We have visited Casco Viejo, the old city, which was absolutely beautiful. Crumbling and reconstructed all at the same time. This is definitely the gringo zone, hostels, upscale hotels, restaurants we can’t afford, cathedrals and ruins all live here.
There is a great artisan and indigenous market along the seawall in this neighbourhood. Tons of Kuna cultural items for sale, and enough Panamanian hats to shade the heads of the world. Can’t comment on the prices though, we are on a strict Ramen noodle diet right now.
And once again Jessica is getting intimidated by the mannequins.
Another day we walked along the park by the ocean, filled with snow cones and a substantial fish market at the end. First ceviche of the trip, and it was wiggly and delicious.
Found a fountain in an extremely interesting shape. Not sure who pulled the fast one on the city planners, or if they still have a job.
Possibly the most exciting place we explored was Parque Natural Metropolitano de Panama. A large natural reserve within city limits, about a 3$ cab ride from the center. Although both of us have seen many tropical parks, it was obsurd how many animals were running around in this city park. We’ve wandered around some of the most famous reserves in Costa Rica and not seen as many creatures as we did here. And – very exciting – our friend Chris from Costeno beach met us in Panama City for a few days.
We got to witness tortugas sunbathing, Jesus lizards running across the water, strange anteater-rodent-creatures trampling through the leaves. The most exhilarating creature was the sloth, who due to the dry season was extremely visible through the foliage. He was also motoring faster then any sloth we have ever seen. Really putting on some mileage.
We’ve also found some really fantastic graffiti here, typical big city angst and art.
Panama City is a big change for us from the places we explored in Colombia. Its all skyscrapers, expats and malls. For a big city its not bad, but its beginning to wear us down as we are in essence trapped here until we find a truck. We want nature, jungle and beaches rather then pavement, pollution and expenses. We vastly under estimated the costs here (nearly %60 of our budget is accommodation and we are staying in the cheapest place in the city). We need to cook all our meals, and stick to the basics. Only free explorations allowed!