Monday, October 03, 2005


Panama City Bus

I spent a couple of days in Panama City, which is basically just another big city, but I met nice people there and liked the city--especially their buses, which are souped-up US schoolbuses like you see above. Panama City is one of the most Americanized places I´ve been to down here. This shouldn´t have come as a surprise, considering that the US withdrew from the Canal Zone less than 6 years ago. The troops may be gone but they left behind a surprising taste for American food products, and the supermarkets here are full of cake mixes, Velveeta cheese, peanut butter, Otis Spunkmeyer muffins and Campbell´s soup. I went out to the canal and watched the locks in (very slow) action as giant shipping vessels moved through. I also watched a great video about the canal´s history, including men in fake moustaches dressed up as the French surveying team which first tried to build a canal in the 1800s. The man behind everybody´s favorite palindrome ("A man, a plan, a canal: Panama") was Ferdinand de Lesseps--also the man with a plan behind the Suez canal. Unfortunately thousands of his men were killed by Yellow Fever and Malaria, and the digging was stopped.
Panama Canal in Action

From Panama City I moved west to the Azueros Peninsula, which is much quieter and less touristy than the capital. I was just beginning to yawn after a couple of very quiet days when suddenly I found myself drinking rum and dancing in the streets at a fiesta in the small town of Pedasí with a rowdy and hilarious group of surfers. We had a great time at the fiesta and continued the party on into the night at somebody´s beach house, finally sleeping in tents by the beach to catch some early waves. Unfortunately they turned out to be really small the next day so I didn´t learn to surf. But I am determined to learn before this trip is over.