Panama City, Old and New, Love and Hate


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Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City
December 19th 2007
Published: December 19th 2007
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Panama City. I have been here for 3 days and 3 nights, and depending on the hour you ask me I will go from telling you I love it to I hate it. Yes, within this short period of time I have developed a love-hate relationship with this place. And to be honest I am really in no mood to be writing right now…that’s one of the reasons I hate it. It does not inspire me to write about my experiences. That being said, I am in limbo right now waiting for Matty to get here, so I’ll do my best to sum up my experience. I apologize ahead of time if this is the most mundane blog I’ve ever written.
In reality I shouldn’t even be here. I should be at home right now watching a DVD and eating Andy’s Chinese delivery. All last week I was a stress case, trying to get work all wrapped up, get packed, get everything in place to leave…so when I finally finished on Friday night I was thirsty like I haven’t been in a long time. Jamie, Nik, and I went to dinner…but as soon as I got the call from Ken I was out the door. Just for a few, mind you. Should’ve known it was going to be a bad morning when we closed down Zam Zams and headed back to my house. 2:00am was followed by 3:00am was followed by 4:00am and all of a sudden Joe was there to take me to the airport and the last thing I wanted to do was get off the couch. I think my last coherent words to Jamie were “I’m not f’in going!” But somehow she shoved me out the door and I was off on my 20-hour day from hell. I will spare you the details, but I slept most of the way to Panama with the courtesy bag close by.
When I got here customs was a mess. American Airlines did a crappy job explaining what forms needed to be filled out…everyone was being turned away from customs to get the right forms…it took forever. But finally I ended up at the Hotel Grenada and in bed around 1:00am. The only thing I really noticed driving into the city from the airport was that it was so dark for such a huge city. It dwarfs San Francisco in size but
Panama City from Casco Viejo (Me)Panama City from Casco Viejo (Me)Panama City from Casco Viejo (Me)

Me blocking perfectly good view of city from old city
probably has a third the lights.
I won’t even talk about Sunday because I pretty much did nothing.
Monday I met Pedro. A taxi driver who speaks English about as well as I speak Spanish. We communicated by pointing to things in the guidebook. I paid him $60 for the day and we were off. We toured the old city (Casco Viejo), and the even older city that was burned to the ground by pirates (Panama Viejo). We had lunch on the Causeway (where a lot of American families still live from the building of the Canal days). The Causeway reminds me of a La Hiena (sp?) in Maui. All modern shops and restaurants, huge yachts everywhere…really upscale. That’s the reason I can’t decide how I feel about this city. It’s nice to see such a prosperous, modern city in a developing country…but it also kind of defeats the purpose of coming to a developing country. Granted, the barrios we drove through look worse than most developing cities I have been to, but I also wouldn’t last long in those neighborhoods! This city reminds me more of Miami than any other city I’ve been to, with the exception that the
Plaza in Casco ViejoPlaza in Casco ViejoPlaza in Casco Viejo

Casco Viego, the old colonial Panama City
Pacific is in the South and the Atlantic is in the North. Kinda messes with your head.
Anyway, I booked a scuba trip, a flight up to Bocas, etc and felt pretty good about my progress. That is until this morning.
While waiting for Pedro to go tour the Canal I had my backpack stolen from the restaurant in the hotel. I think this place seems so modern I am not watching my back enough. Which is stupid, because I would still watch my back in New York, or San Francisco for that matter. Anyway, all they got was my guidebook (my Moon guidebook, which kicks ass over my Lonely Planet!), a pair of sunglasses, my Dive log, and a rain slicker…but still, it pissed me off! And the hotel people were dicks about it. Then on the way to the Canal I got a text from AT&T saying that my data plan was not covered here (after 106 texts back and forth with my girl and friends back home….thanks assholes! but then again, I really needed to cut that crap out anyway!), then an email from the scuba shop that they weren’t doing that dive on Wednesday which I
Old Panama City (Casco Viejo)Old Panama City (Casco Viejo)Old Panama City (Casco Viejo)

Casco Viego, the old colonial Panama City
had booked flights, etc around. I was so irritated…but then we got to the Miraflores Locks of the Canal and my mood changed. You really have to see the Canal and museum and film to appreciate it, but it’s pretty amazing, I’m no engineer, despite what my business card says, but I think it’s pretty genius what they have done here. I also bought a pad of paper and pen there, which is how Pedro and I are communicating now because my guidebook is gone. My stick figures are proving to be pretty effective.
I feel like this is getting long and boring, or at least I am bored writing it…so I’ll leave it at that. I’m in a better mood now, just had some good sushi (imported from Miami) and am looking forward to getting out of the city tomorrow to go on a Canopy Tour and some zip lining in El Valle…then coming back to go shopping (they have a mall here that makes our malls looks like a Kmart) to go out tomorrow night. Everyone here dresses really nice and I am feeling like a scumbug!

Feliz Navidad and all that stuff!

Kevin




Additional photos below
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Old Panama City (Casco Viejo)Old Panama City (Casco Viejo)
Old Panama City (Casco Viejo)

Casco Viego, the old colonial Panama City
Older Panama City (Panama Viejo)Older Panama City (Panama Viejo)
Older Panama City (Panama Viejo)

Panama Viejo, the ruins of first Panama City
Older Panama City (Panama Viejo)Older Panama City (Panama Viejo)
Older Panama City (Panama Viejo)

Panama Viejo, the ruins of first Panama City
Retirement in Panama (Causeway)Retirement in Panama (Causeway)
Retirement in Panama (Causeway)

Amador Causeway...this is a common site
Panama City View from CausewayPanama City View from Causeway
Panama City View from Causeway

During one of the flash storms
Panama City View from CausewayPanama City View from Causeway
Panama City View from Causeway

During one of the flash storms
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)

First set of locks coming from Pacific side...looking toward Atlantic
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)

Looking toward Pacific
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)

The Locks. Ships come into the locks, they fill up and raise the ship so it can pass through...they go through a series of locks to raise, and then a series to lower
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)
Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks)

Shipping passing through to Atlantic
Old Panama (Casco Viejo)Old Panama (Casco Viejo)
Old Panama (Casco Viejo)

View from highest point in Panama City
Panama CityPanama City
Panama City

View from highest point in Panama City


19th December 2007

Good Trip Bad Trip
Sounds like you haven't made up your mind yet, bummer about you bag etc, at least you didnt loose card p'port etc :) I bet you'll love the Zip wires, AAHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh :)
20th December 2007

HI HI HI
Have fun tonight when you go out...be careful and be happy you are seeing a part of the world I'll probably never see!
6th January 2008

same question
Where would you suggest for a night or two in Panama City? I am wanting to experience that get dressed up PC nightlife!! ( with my boyfriend) and maybe a great dinner. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
7th January 2008

Love the old.. hate the new!
Hi Kevin, I´ve been living in Casco Antiguo for the last 5 years and have become specialized in everything Casco. Check out my website: www.arcoproperties.com Thanks for calling the world´s attention on this beautiful part of Panama! Patrizia
8th January 2008

answer
We stayed at Hotel Bocas del Toro, really nice clean place. The best resturant on the island is La Casba. As for Panama City, we went out on Calle Uraguay (sp?)...that's the place to be. Hope that helps and you enjoy your trip!

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