Top Ten things you should know about Panama

  • Ships entering the Canal must pay in cash (wire transfer) for passage in advance.  The only exception to this rule was when the canal was swum by American adventurer Richard Halliburton, who was charged only 36 cents at the end of his traverse (in 1928), the lowest amount ever paid for passage.
  • Pedestrians are for target practice.  You can walk in Panama City, but only the few and the foolhardy actually do it.  Be amazed as the sidewalk next to a concrete wall slowly tapers until you must sidle sideways on a 6-inch curb while tractor trailers speed by at warp speed, making you wonder about the safety of your rapidly shrinking testicles!  Immerse yourself in the exotic aroma of open sewage lines as they merrily gush forth their frothy spew directly across your path, forcing you to jump onto a ramp thoughtfully strewn with broken PBR bottles and used condoms!  Astound your friends with your ape-like agility as you bound across the highway with the cut-back skills of an NFL running back, dodging cars like bullets and hurtling over hoods like a Hollywood stunt man on crack!  Laugh in the face of the pussies who invented such useless safety features as crosswalks and traffic lights!
  • Panama hats aren’t Panamanian.  Nope, they were imported for the Canal workers…from Ecuador.
  • They don’t have hurricanes here.  There’s even better news: you don’t have to watch the moronic TV weatherman standing in a typhoon trying to tell you that everyone is going to get wet.
  • Your skin doesn’t boil here as much as I thought.  Yes, it’s hot, no doubt about it, but it doesn’t achieve the core reactor meltdown levels on a par with central Florida, for example.
  • Panama has no standing army.  Wow!  Who knew you could have a growing, vibrant country without spending trillions of dollars killing people on the other side of the world?
  • It’s the only place in the world where you don’t travel east or west to get to both oceans.   Nope.  Here, because of Panama’s unique reclining “s” shape, you travel south to get to the Pacific, north to get to the Atlantic.
  • Would you pay $100 a pound for coffee?  Panama’s Geisha coffee, a varietal of the Arabica bean, is so rich, full, and chocolaty that it’s won the world championship 3 years in a row.  My palate isn’t sensitive enough to know a great coffee from just a very good one, but this stuff beats the hell out of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand I drink at home.
  • Panamanian police are always ready and eager to lend a helping hand.  For example, when I was stopped for speeding outside of Aquadulce, there was the local motorbike cop, reaching out to me when he could see how confused I was by the process.  I tried to play stupid (“no habla espanol”), but he assisted me in learning Panamanian customs by using his pen to write the international language on his palm: “$20”.  So I slipped him a sawbuck and I was on my way in under three minutes.
  • Roast Gringo, anyone?  The indigenous Kuna of the San Blas Islands are the second shortest humans in the world (after African pygmies) and once practiced cannibalism.
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One Response to Top Ten things you should know about Panama

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