Impressions of Panama: Land of Contrast

1-Miraflores Locks                   2- Chickens as baggage

Panama is a land of contrasts: Home of an engineering & operational marvel, the Panama Canal; Home of simple farmers who fly prized chickens on COPA, the national airline.

1-Public transport in Panama City      2-Ancient transport still in use

 Panama City is a vibrant, dynamic and emerging first-world city with all the modern conveniences, and many of the growing pains of any metropolis; Panamanians cling to their heritage with tributes to the old, venerable ways.

1-Panamonte, Boquete, 2-Farmer’s Market Boquete, 3-Local festival, new friends

Modern facilities can be found anywhere in Panama; right next to traditional methods of doing things. Panamanians cherish their social ties; while welcoming new friends.

1-Learning survival skills                       2-Learning language skills

Contrasts also include the bad and/or threatening and the good & serendipitous. Yes, there are dangerous creatures lurking about in Panama, and it’s good to heed the signs. At the same time, there are opportunities to read hopeful signs, as residents do all they can to welcome us into their midst. (Here at Boquete’s wonderful new Biblioteca, six-year old Erick teaches Mariah a Spanish phrase, with due emphasis to make sure she ‘gets it.’ These two are on track to be life-long friends.)

Boquete’s Biblioteca

1-Optical scope at SETI observatory   2-Dreamcatcher, an ancient counterpart

The mountains of Western Panama hide artifacts of many things ancient and modern. They contain the dreams, aspirations, triumphs and tragedies of extant and lost civilizations; they hold the evidence of humankind’s yearning to discover what lies across the next mountain…and the next; they house the old and the new, the bones of explorers, the hardware to explore the far reaches of the universe. Ben Schuetz is ensconced in the hills above Boquete involved in a tireless search for extra-terrestrial signals. Panama is a land of contrasts indeed. Like the ancient Nazca with their so called landing strips, and their enigmatic lines across the Peruvian terrain, the tradition continues of reaching for the cosmos, of transcending the primordial bounds to imagine a world beyond. Does simplicity engender and encourage quiet contemplation? If so, these ancient hills and the serene, simple environment of Panama may be the best place in all the world to indulge a life of the mind.

1-Alleged UFO landing strip                2-Nazca figure in Peru

We encountered many contrasts, many confounding and serendipitous discoveries during our nine weeks in Panama. It’s a land that cherishes its ancient past, while emerging headlong into and discovering the modern world. Meanwhile, people from all over the world all discovering Panama. Expats from North America, Canada, Western Europe, South America, Asia and several other places are coming to Panama for its stability in turbulent times, for its laid-back easy life, its temperate climate, safe and wholesome atmosphere, cultural richness, social and travel opportunities and its access to the rest of the world. Here are a few more pictures of our own exploration of Panama, a place of contrasts that we intend to call home very soon. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Panamanian friends

1-Life at Finca Luz; 2-Street fair, Boquete; 3-Lazy at Limones; 4-Boquete & Rio Caldera; 5-Panama City; 6-By & the late Mort Rabkin; 7-‘Downtown’ Boquete; 8-An appropriate sign in Boquete from Panama Pathfinders–and they mean it!

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6 thoughts on “Impressions of Panama: Land of Contrast

    1. ME BE in Panama

      Thanks John. We’re tackling the cleaning out process while counting down the days till we return. Hasta pronto, Mariah

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