Friday, February 28, 2014

The New City of Panama

Panama City is growing faster than most others.
Once we were through the Panama Canal, we anchored near the end of the Causeway off La Playita Marina. The tides here are up to 13 feet! That is a new experience for us! The fleet anchored outside of the marina which is filled with large sport fishing vessels and doesn’t really cater to sailboats. Besides, when the tide is low in the harbor, we would be lying on our sides! In fact, many of these places are having a challenging time trying to accommodate 40 sailing yachts and their multi-national crews. The chatter on the local VHF channel is interesting – even if you don’t understand the language of either party!

Skyscrapers are everywhere now.
Of course, the World ARC Rally had a couple of activities planned for us as well as some optional ones. We chose to partake of it all! We had a full day visit to the Embero Indian village, which is one of the most popular tours in Panama, and a city tour. Then being young at heart, we joined in the fun on one of the famous Panama City Party Buses. The Embero experience is one for a blog posting of its own.

The city tour was very interesting and worthwhile. The old city was founded in 1519 and was the first settlement of Europeans on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It was through here that all of the gold from Peru passed on its way to Portobello where it wa loaded on ships headed for Spain. In 1617, 1200 men led by Henry Morgan sailed up the Chagres River to the city and reduced it to ruins.
Saving the facades of the Old Panama. It looks and
feels like you are in New Orleans.

Since the Panama Canal provides about $2.5 billion USD per year to the government, there is massive growth, new building of infrastructure and buildings. It is thought the intent is to become the financial capital of the Americas! 

In addition to the new development, they are renovating the old town area. Instead of demolishing it, they are keeping the facades of the old buildings, but gutting everything behind them. In the end, there will be modern housing with an old New Orleans look from the street. The area must have been beautiful in its day. I suspect it will become a hot real estate market once it is ready of occupation.

Some of the ruins of the churches. After a while, they
all begin to look alike so I don't recall which one this is.
We also visited some historical sites. One was one of the Catholic church ruins as there were many cathedrals before the plundering. The structures had underground tunnels connecting them to the governmental offices so officials could escape from harm by slipping off to the churches.

We had lunch at this typical Panamanian
restaurant with interesting decor.
We enjoyed a traditional Panamanian lunch with our friends on Vivo. I even ate the cerviche! As some of you know, I like my protein cooked! Surprisingly, I found it acceptable and will probably try it again. Many of their food items consist of a small amount of some meat, cheese or chicken filling wrapped in dough that is deep fried. My stomach can only handle a little of that, but it was tasty. I really enjoy their fresh lemonade.

After the tour we stopped at Allbrook Mall, which is about the size of The Mall of America in Minneapolis! We needed to get Dennis some new clothes. He has gone from a snug 36” waist to a 32-33” one! Trust me, he is being well fed on the boat and we eat out a lot on land. However, this “not sitting at the desk” lifestyle has melted pounds off both of us. I could use a size smaller, too (but I am waiting for several sizes smaller before shopping)! We are so active on the boat and on land that we are burning the fat away. Love it! Much of life underway is an extreme isometric workout just keeping oneself balanced with the boat 24/7. Even when sleeping there is constant motion requiring balance!
It's Party Time!

Now about that Party Bus! I don’t know if I will ever get my hearing back! But it was an interesting experience. Picture this: a colorfully painted school bus with flashing red, green and blue lights, bench seating along the sides, several metal poles in the center and straps on the ceiling for hanging on with one hand while drinking with the other one! Oh, I forgot, the music was so loud it made the eardrums throb!

Now you are touring the city for 3 hours, hopping on and off at other bars! Just my style, huh? It was fun watching the young crews self-destruct with the free flowing beer and rum! I wonder how they felt the next day? My eardrums were still throbbing! 

A lot of happy sailors off for the evening!
Fortunately, it was the Chinese New Year Celebration on the causeway so the traffic could hardly move. Our speed never got over 20 mph, which was good since the bus driver was texting and talking on the phone while drinking and driving! I thought about those headlines: 8 Americans, 10 Germans, and 6 Englishmen die in a bus crash … Opps! Try to put that out of your head. It was worth the experience. I would recommend the Party Bus just to say you have done it, though. Now I can say: been there; done that!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you here. You can see earlier posts at