Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Days in Panama City, Panama - 8-13-2012

El Cangrejo, Panama City, Panama

I've been back in Panama City, Panama for four days now. I came back to see about arranging a sailing charter to the San Blas Islands, an unspoiled archipelago inhabitated by the Kuna People. The Kuna eschew electricity and running water, but do put tourists up in simple cabins...that lack electricity and running water. I wanted to cruise around the islands on a sailboat for a few days because I'd prefer to island hop and find secret snorkel spots over posting up on a single island for a few days and use a bucket for toilet. Call me pretentious.

I've contacted five sailing companies and it looks like I'm out of luck. Who knew that returning nearly two weeks before I leave the country wouldn't be enough notice to get a shared charter going? Oh well...there's always next trip.

El Cangrejo, Panama City, Panama
Since it looks like I won't be able to line up a shared charter, I've instead been exploring Panama City with people I've met at the hostel. A couple days ago, I took a woman from Michigan through Casco Viejo. Yesterday, I explored Calle Uruguay and the Bella Vista district alone and found a set of stairs going up several hundred feet to a quiet and beautiful neighborhood tucked away in the hills just inland from the Cinta Costera. Today, I took an Australian woman on my walk from the previous day, and then we explored the El Congrejo district together for several hours. I had a great time both days playing tour guide for my new friends and finding a new district today. She and I even had lunch at an upscale lunch place on Calle Uruguay called The Market, was decorated with such California sophistication that we could have been in the Ferry Building in San Francisco or in Newport Beach.

I'm coming to really like Panama City. It's much more energetic, vibrant and wealthy (in parts) than San Jose, Costa Rica...the only other Latin American capital city I've explored to this point. Calle Uruguay's lounges and upscale bars, Bella Vista's tree lined avenues and cute restaurnts and shops, and El Congrejo's relentless energy and hectic activity offer living proof that Panama City has a true city life. I could totally live here, and I think spending my last seven days in-country exploring Panama City would be an excellent use of my time.

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