Leaving Puerto Jimenez in the morning on Thursday, we headed towards the boat with which we reached el Golfito in 25 minutes, from there I will split roads with the dear frenchies and go on, on my own. With the same bus I will manage to reach the border of Panama at Pasos Canoas in 2 hours.
What happened there is the same case scenario than with Costa Rica, when you enter the country you need to show a proof that you have a ticket to get out within the next 3 months, otherwise, you just cannot enter. That’s why I had to loose 20 bucks on buying an open ticket from Panama to San Jose…
Crossing the border was an easy move aside of this, I jumped on the first bus to David, the second biggest town of Panama.
Nothing special in this town, I was actually lacking sleep so aside of eating and sleeping that was my only activity. I managed to see the center of town, but there is nothing appealing, it’s just a third world country town. The interest would have been to go up the mountains to Boquete, but after the jungle adventure I think I had my share of hiking – trekking for a while. So the next day I took another bus to reach Panama City in 7 hours. And…that was way different than what I have seen before.
Panama City is a huge market place due to it’s place next to the Canal and also bank wise. Huge skyscrapers are along the pacific coast. And whereas it looks all shiny and developed, there is still lots to do to make it “enjoyable”. The river stinks as hell, and the pacific waters are full of junk and quite polluated. BUT, there is a lot of constructions going on such as a park on the bay, other new buildings, and even a new road over the water, surrounding the neighbourhood of Casco Viejo, so there is a huge investment on making the city more attractive.
So what is there to see in Panama ?
The Casco Viejo neighborhood is being “renovated” at the moment, and it gives a bit of the idea “I wanna be like Cartagena de Indias from Colombia”, but bottomline, where Cartagena is beautiful, Casco Viejo still has lots to do to reach this level. We can actually still see the new buildings right next to the old – half falling buildings where people still lives in…. .
In terms of interest, it’s worth walking around by day and have a drink, but it’s really far to be as “interesting and appealing” as the touristic book guides mention.
Panama City is expensive, and it has quite some good nightlife, might it be just a bar or clubs. I have tried two nights out, one with some local friends which was an interesting experience, going to a cultural outdoor event for the full moon and then heading to the shiny Hard Rock Cafe Hotel, which was a complete contrast. After that I will still try the bars in Casco Viejo but will be quite disappointed. The second night will lead me to the Calle Uruguay, where half a dozen clubs are, I will have a big reggaeton night and meet great people.
The last, but the most interesting part is….the Canal of Panama. There are 3 locks, were the boats have to pass, and the closest from Panama City is the Miraflores locks, it’s rougly 20 minutes taxi ride from the center. And well…pictures are worth a thousand words…
The canal of Panama is the place where thousands of ships pass throughout the year to go quicker from the Pacific to the atlantic or vice-versa.
Crossing the Canal takes 8-10 hours per ship and costs thousands of dollars, they have to go through 3 different locks such as the one below:
Here is the canal after the first huge touristic boats passed.
Then, this one here, can carry 4000 cars, that’s a monster!
Watch when the locks open (bear in mind that each locks weight 650 tons).