When I was traveling around South America for a bit, I decided to take a small and slightly up north to Central America.
Panama to be specific.
Since it was pretty close to Barranquilla, I figured I might as well make the quick trip up north to “cross it off my list.”
In doing so, I didn’t get much of an experience in Panama to be fair as I was there very briefly.
And only saw Panama City to be exact
Anyway, I flew into the airport in Panama City and walked out…
And realizing pretty damn quick how hot or humid this place really was.
Sounds obvious maybe to most people who have never been to Latin America…
To think Panama must be hot or humid.
But I didn’t think it would be as much before showing up.
Especially as not every part of Latin America is crazy hot.
Like you literally have some parts down here that have snow and ice glaciers even.
And other parts of Central America like Xela are relatively not too hot or humid.
Still, I had spent some time in Barranquilla so it wasn’t that much of a difference weather wise.
Once I showed up, I got into a taxi and headed for the hotel I was going to be staying at for the brief time I was in the city.
Taxi Scam Welcome
Funny enough, I didn’t have the most welcoming introduction to Panama City when I showed up.
Once I walked outside of the airport, there were some taxis that I saw lined up and all.
A bit similar to Barranquilla airport.
Anyway, I got inside a taxi where I was told by someone else at a desk that the ride would be about 30 bucks.
It’s been a few years but I think that was the price more or less.
Anyway, once the taxi got to my hotel near Casco Viejo, I remember the taxi driver trying to charge me extra for the trip.
It was kinda funny in the moment because I had just left Barranquilla for a tiny bit and got used to the taxi scammers in that city.
For example, one Colombian driver in Quilla actually tried the same bullshit by claiming that the price given to me on the ticket by the manager outside was wrong.
Then trying to change me more with whatever number he could pull out of his ass.
Where, if I remember right, this dude was trying to throw me double the price more or less.
I don’t remember the exact number but I think it was 75 dollars more or less.
Anyway, we got into it a tiny bit and the dude even threatened to call the cops.
“Call the cops then!” I said.
He didn’t call the cops.
Probably because we could’ve just contacted his company and he probably didn’t want eyes on him with some tourist accusing him of trying to scam someone.
The usual idea – “oh, he’s just a tourist who doesn’t speak Spanish. Surely he’ll just nod his head like a dumbass and go…..
“si si Señor! Puedes tener todo mi dinerroooooooo, soy un boludoooooo.”
Anyway, the guy and I went at it for a tiny bit before he settled for the 30 bucks or whatever it was.
It didn’t ruin the trip any since I already had plenty of practice with bullshit taxi drivers in Quilla.
If you can handle those fuckers, you can handle any taxi driver.
The city of the worst taxi drivers in the world actually in my limited experience.
And so the trip went on….
Outside of dealing with the occasional street hustler trying to scam foreigners with 5 dollar chocolate bars or whatever the deal might be….
Another first impression of mine was that they used the USD!
I had never been to a Latin country where the USD was actually used locally.
That was a surprise to me.
I heard that supposedly that is also the case in Ecuador but I wouldn’t know as of this writing as I had never been there yet.
Anyway, that was kinda interesting to experience.
I found myself to be more conservative with spending money when it is in USD versus pesos of whatever country funny enough.
I guess it feels more real spending money when it is the currency that you have used for most of your life.
Next, as I said, it was quite hot and humid while I was in Panama City.
Next, the city itself was quite nicely developed.
Compared to my time in most cities I had been to in South America and Latin America as a whole by that point…
I found it to be quite nice relatively speaking.
Along with that, I found the views of the city to be really nice.
I really enjoyed the ocean view you got in the city when high up.
Arguably one of the better capital cities I have been to in Latin America when it comes to scenery in the distance.
Of course, nothing is free…
As I wrote in this article, not every gringo likes Panama as an idea for a place to live in because it tends to be relatively more expensive compared to most countries in Latin America.
Where 10 dollar steaks become 20 dollar steaks!
Well, there is no free lunch.
But I will agree that it seemed relatively more expensive compared to other nice cities of Latin America like Mexico City where I live as of right now.
Though, if your budget permits it, the city overall was quite nice looking.
And, as I wrote in this article here, would be a place I would possibly settle down in the long term with residency for whenever I decide to quit being a tourist down here.
When it comes to the food?
I found the food to be quite nice overall. Plenty of good restaurants.
I can’t speak as to what “food in Panama is” as my time was limited there and I didn’t experience it as much as other cuisines I found in the restaurants.
Well, the chicks there weren’t bad.
Plenty of cute chicks all around.
Maybe not the best city in Latin America for that purpose but I don’t think any typical single guy would be disappointed
It was fine.
Then what about nightlife?
I didn’t check every venue obviously as I didn’t have much time and didn’t feel like running around the whole city.
But I found this article here after a quick Google search online that seems to have good info.
As I have said on other articles, I’d consider Panama City to be a place to settle down in long term.
Another benefit to the city is that they don’t tax your worldwide income and it is relatively close to the US.
And with all the other benefits mentioned here…
It is definitely a place to consider.
Main negatives I found were the relative higher cost of being there and the hot weather.
Some might also say that Panama is not ideal if you want second citizenship but I disagree.
More thoughts on getting second citizenship in Panama here from what I have researched.
Anyway, like I said, my experience in Panama is relatively limited.
I plan on going back someday to really get a better perspective on the capital city and the rest of the country as well.
Until then, all I got to say is that my time in the city (outside of the minor taxi inconvenience) was overall good.
I don’t worry too much about that initial experience because I’m used to it down here and it happens in every country around the world.
On that topic, I did feel Panama City to be relatively safe despite that incident.
I chalk it up to a taxi driver thinking he had a “typical tourist” in the bag and that is it.
I’m not going to paint the whole city and country as some violent hellhole because of that.
Though I’m sure Panama has its imperfections…
Many of which I’m completely unfamiliar with due to my limited experience there having only one brief visit to the country…
And that one brief visit being to just Panama City as of this writing…
Overall, like I said, the final verdict on this city based on my time there was that it seemed like a fairly good place to set up as a base for gringos looking to live in Latin America that also happen to have a little more money in the bank to afford it.
Well, more money in the bank than trying to live in Xela, Guatemala or Pachuca, Mexico.
Anyway, like I said, it was a fine place overall and I plan on going back someday to dig a little bit deeper underneath the surface of Panama.
Until then, I’ll say that I enjoyed my experience overall.
Got your own experiences in Panama or any questions?
Drop them below.
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Thanks for reading.