The Kalu Yala Blog
June 27, 2011by Yana Shneyderman
Posted In: Our Global Community, Voices of Kalu Yala, Wandering Thoughts
Panama City is not a walking city. It doesn’t have a metro system, the sidewalks are often in very bad condition, and there is no real center to the city. Many of the sites are spread out, with roads without names (except a few main ones) connecting them. Thus, the main way to get around is by car. We have mainly been using taxis to get from one place to another. To be honest, I often prefer taxis to metro, because you at least are above ground and can see what you are passing. It also helps that taxis, if you know how to negotiate the price down with the taxi drivers, do not cost a lot at all.
The ideal mode of transportation in the city is a car; this way, you don’t have to deal with negotiating the price of the ride, and you can come and go whenever you wish. One time when we were talking with some friends who are natives of the city, this matter turned into somewhat of a joke, them joking around that even to get to someone’s house who lives a few blocks away, you would take the car.
I am the type of person that loves to walk around, so not being able to do so as much as I would in other cities has been slightly frustrating. I try to walk whenever I can, and luckily I have found several places where you can take a nice stroll and not worry about the traffic congestion, tree roots taking up half of the sidewalk, or puddles that inevitably leave your legs covered in mud if you try to walk to the supermarket in the morning.
My favorite places are the Cinta Costera and Amador, as well as Casco Viejo. They are also some of the best kept areas of Panama City. One of the best discoveries has been a small plaza, paved with red bricks that juts out into the bay. Another pleasant surprise was finding the Parque Benito Juárez on my way home from New York Bagel Cafe this week. Parks are a scarce commodity in Panama City, so finding another one, albeit a small one, was a welcome find.
Most of all, this has been a reminder that every city, no matter how old, is in transition. That includes the infrastructure. You see workers laying down cement to reconstruct some of the battered sidewalks, and President Martinelli has promised to put into place a metro system into the capital.