For much of last year it was difficult to travel and explore within Panamá, as only people on official business were allowed to drive west out of Panama City toward the provinces of Panama Oeste and Coclé. So to celebrate my birthday last month, I was eager to get out of town and go back to one of my favorite haunts, the mountain village of Sorá.
This year, thousands of Panamanians will celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week) from March 28 to April 4. If you’re from the U.S., you’ve likely always worked regular hours during the workweek preceding Easter. In Panama however, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are important holidays.
Much has been written about the Pacific side of Panama, and deservedly so. Surprisingly though, this is not the case with the vibrant yet laidback Caribbean side. The historic town of Portobelo is a prime example.
Raised eyebrows…that’s what I got from people back when I said, “I live in Colón.” They weren’t exactly wrong to raise them. The province gets a bad rap because of its capital city, also named Colón. Steer clear. But outside of that one permanently down-on-its-luck city is one of the most underappreciated rainforest districts in the Caribbean.
Over the 15 years that I've been living in and writing about Panama, David and Panama City have both grown in popularity. Retirees, remote workers…expats of all ages who prefer city conveniences are looking to these destinations. Each compares favorably to good-weather cities in the U.S., at a fraction of the cost. But how to choose between the two?
I write this from the swanky apartment, where I rent a room. It is in a high-rise, overlooking the ocean and I am currently on the balcony, watching one of the powerful but brief thunderstorms roll through. One of my roommates is behind me, singing in Spanish in the kitchen, while he prepares a dinner that is making my stomach growl.
Home to colorful Spanish colonial architecture, a variety of amenities, and three top beaches a 5- to 10-minute drive away, Pedasí—at the far south-eastern tip of Panama's Azuero Peninsula—is the perfect base for beach exploration.
After more than a decade in Panama, I’m back in Europe, looking for a new base. I still love Panama. The reasons why I chose it as a base back in 2007 are still the same. It’s an amazing, internationalized destination, with a lively and fun capital city, a global perspective and a strategic location in the Americas.
On Sundays from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. a network of roads from the city's Paitilla sector to the Amador Causeway are closed to motor vehicles. That way you can bike, rollerblade, skateboard—whatever you want—all over the capital, and without worrying about traffic.
I lazily open my eyes, listen to the birds singing, and once again count my blessings. It’s nearly time to go to “the office,” but that simply means rolling out of my hammock, pulling a T-shirt over my bikini, and plugging in my headset for my online lessons.