Panama City, Panama
A year and a half ago I moved to Panama in Central America. At first, I was culture shocked, but in a good way. The culture is very different form the American culture and it took me a little bit to get used to it. Panama is a melting pot for various cultures. Colombians, Chileans, Argentineans, Americans, and Dominicans are just some of the different, colorful people found in Panama. I would get overwhelmed sometimes because there are so many different origins inhabiting Panama City. Walking down Via España, a main road in the city, Spanish can be heard from all sides. The difference though, is the accents of the speakers. There are still certain accents I am unable to quite understand but the majority I do, thanks to traveling so much throughout the country.
Panama is an amazing place to take a vacation, especially if you love nature, flora and fauna. Panama is situated in between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. This gives the visitor the opportunity to drive roughly two hours to the Caribbean side that is full of white beaches, or a little under an hour to a beach on the Pacific side. Regardless of what ocean one chooses, you are sure to be impressed by its beauty.
Another great thing about Panama is it offers amazing trails to hike since the country is laced with mountains. Cerro Campana is a mountain located 1 hour and 15 minutes from the city. A small clearing is located three-fourths of the way to the top of the mountain. It is free to camp there and there is a small faucet that offers running water. From the campsite there are three different trails that are marked with flags and rubber hoses. A favorite hike of mine is to “La Cruz” (the cross). It takes about 2.5 hours to hike up to the cross but it is worth it. A huge white cross was placed on a rock over looking the valley. It is a breathtaking view and to be honest, a little scary since you are so high up.
There are thousands of things to do in Panama and I would recommend to anyone with an open mind to check it out. Keep in mind that Panama is still a third world country so some things are quite different. A lot of places are dirty and dusty. Many public bathrooms don’t have proper doors or toilet paper. Outside the city, it is extremely rustic and sometimes missing proper health care, running water, or proper garbage disposable. Don’t get me wrong though. – what is lacking in Panama is made up by the generous people who are always smiling, always willing to help, and are just plain happy to be alive.
Panama is an amazing country that is still slightly undiscovered. It is not built up like Costa Rica and not as dangerous as other countries in Central and South America. Families with children can feel safe bringing the entire family here. It is the same as anywhere you would travel to, stay in populated places, don’t wear expensive jewelry, and keep your eyes open.