Panama City: First Impressions
By Mateo Landau
First Impressions: Panama City--January 22, 2006
When you arrive in Panama City you get this weird feeling--it's a feeling of excitement, it's a feeling of surprise and it's almost a feeling of confusion. It's this baffling feeling and your senses immediately try to make significance of it all. Where am I?
I smell the warm, misty, flowery air and think I'm in the tropics until the aromas of bubbling European cuisine sway me otherwise. I see a coastline of high reaching buildings and inventive architecture and assume I'm in a metropolis yet I feel this relaxed and laidback breath of Caribbean life--I've lost all my bearings. Am I in Spain? South America? Miami Beach?
I soon realize that wherever I am, I don't want to leave.
It's Friday afternoon when I arrive and the streets of Panama City are dancing with energy. Men load yam-jammed duffle bags onto vegetable trucks, families gobble down afternoon snacks at open-air bistros, and taxi drivers buzz around looking for new friends. Along the coast, yachts lazily drift along the cities banking district, antsy fishermen anticipate a big day's catch, and freight ships wait anxiously to take the greatest shortcut in the world--the Panama Canal.
There's something endearing if not seductive about the way of life here. It's this perfectly balanced blend of old and new--of tradition and innovation. I've only been here for a few hours but I already love it. The fusion cuisine, the imaginative architecture, the hearty sense of culture, the hi-tech gadgets, the ocean's reflection of the city line at night. Jogging through banking districts, produce markets, and rainforest parks...I already love it all. And I haven't yet been outside city limits.
I am not a writer. Nor a wordsmith. I am an international man of mystery.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.