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Published: October 12th 2006
Colorful Bus 1
Pic of bus owner's son.
"Sabio eh aquele que aprende com seus proprios erros"
The most interesting sight in Panama is without a doubt the public buses. We suspect they were all American school buses on their "young" days, but now on the streets of Panama they star as renovated moving art.
Dressed in incredibly colorful attires, they are all unique, displaying names and splashing drawings of loved ones, particularly kids, religious figures, sayings, etc, etc, etc.
I wish the joy displayed vibrantly on the outside of the old buses also reflected the mood of the passengers inside them, but that is to wish way too much. How could anyone be cheerful inside such humid, hot and invariably fully packed vehicles, which move living behind great trail of dense smog?
On a more serious/political note, let me share with you that our hotel was just a half a block away from the beautiful church where ex-president/dictator Manuel Noriega run for sanctuary when the American army invaded Panama in 1989. Yeap! It was under the other George Bush!!!!! The Texan cowboys have a thing for invasions, don't they?
Noriega stayed in the church for 5 days, until him, or probably the priests, no longer could stand listening to the blasting rock-n-roll
played by the American soldiers, continously, night and day, right in front of the catholic institution. Noriega finally surrendered to the psychological pressure of the US. The casualties resulting from the invation were: 23 Americans and ~3,500 Panamanians.
We also got to see the sight where the Panamanian army used to be before it was bombarded by the American troops. It is now a very poorly maintained low income housing area.
An update on Noriega: He is still in an American prison paying his 40yr sentence for drug trafficking (which, by the way, still goes on in Panama) but due to good behavior he will be released on October 2007. It's for certain that he won't return to Panama because he would be sentenced here too. Who knows if he won't decide to "retire" on a Florida beach after being released!!!!!
Just a little more on Panama: It uses American dollar as it currency (it's cheaper) but it makes some of it's coins, called Balboa.
There are 2 vice-presidents, not one; the food is very similar to the Cuban and Colombian; there is much less poverty on the streets than in Brazil; there are fewer smokers than in
China and Europe; the coffee is great and thank God Starbuck's (still) haven't landed here.
Have a great day.
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