QuickPeek: R&R. Tourism. Logistics.

Panama City! It feels like the most modern city on all of Central America, it’s got grand skyscrapers, a skyline, lots of filth, shit loads of traffic, roads where one cannot walk, a shiny new metro, Metro buses, a historical center, a promenade etc.. Everything one comes to expect of a reasonable sized metropolis. I can see that a lot of wealth accumulated due this being a Maritime center. Along with logistics, it brings along, technology, services, banks and insurance companies along. Places where people make loads of money while enduring stress and actually contributing nothing in terms of real work, heh.

Anyway, here I am, for a few days of R&R, before heading into Colombia. I’ve had an absolutely awesome host in Oliv here. A french bridge Engineer who is working on a project at the atlantic side to support the construction of the Canal Extension project. He is well travelled and fun to chat with and an extremely busy host. He works super long hours and at the same time, hosts people constantly. When I hot here, I met another guest of his, Katya, a young girl from Moscow who had been travelling a while. Krista was coming by in a day or two and he was happy to host her too and we synced up in PC. In the next few days, we’d have a couple of Chilean girls joining us and 3 more guests who eventually didn’t show up. But that’s Oliv, open heart, open doors and an all round solid chap!

Krista was in town and she had this idea of going across to the Atlantic Side to see a pilgrimage, which allegedly had some Congolese drumming. Myself and Katya decided to join her to go have a look-see and probably spend the night dancing. But as it would turn out this was a more sombre religious procession with people making their pilgrimage on foot and knees with hot wax being poured on them to increase the suffering. Reminded me of the thai poosam shenanigans that happen in my part of the world.

The town of Portobelo turned “interesting” with the arriving crowds and since there was no evidence of drumming anywhere, we decided to head out a bit further to Puerto Lindo and stay the night. It was easy getting in and out of Portobelo and the aftermath of the procession had made the town into an absolute rubbish dump.

We got back into PC and I took some time to join Katya to watch her street performance. She does fire dancing to earn some money and balance her budget. A pretty cool girl to hang out with. Myself and Krista took a walk along the Promenade one of these days and took in the urban end of PC too. Somehow, a lot of PC reminded me of Singapore. I suspect a lot of the metro and urban design had been learned from Singapore, including the idea of crowding the entrance of buses and trains and prevent people from getting off, ja ja.

On the travel side, I managed to find reasonable priced tickets to Medellin on Air Panama (lowest is 125, but I got 150$ tickets), found a bike box close to home and heading into Colombia as I write this. There was an additional 3$/KG luggage fee and with a 30 + 8 Kg luggage allowance, I think I’d have a reasonably priced trip into Medellin.

I had a partial opportunity to join a sail boat and sail thro the Panama Canal and the locks, but it didn’t materialise. May be some other time. Otherwise, it had been a few good days of R&R with some nice people up here in Panama.

Track Notes

Expenses: SG$ 444.68
Comments: Panama City seems modelled after Singapore. Except for the stinky inner city of course.