Panamá City

08th March 2011

Panamá City [4] was a very pleasant place to spend a week.  We were surprised how cosmopolitan it is.  Locals joke Panamá City is the “Miami of the south, except we speak more English”.  With an apartment we were able to spread ourselves out, cook healthy meals for a change and drink wine in our pyjamas. 


Across the bay from the skyscrapers of the modern city, the Casco Viejo (old compound) juts out on a rocky peninsula.  Crumbling buildings stand beside beautifully restored gems along the narrow streets.  Nearby is the Mercado de Mariscos where the freshest of seafood is sold.  Fresh homemade spicy picante sauce is a perfect accompaniment.  Panamá Viejo (old Panamá), the original city which was destroyed by the pirate Henry Morgan in 1671 lies in impressive and nostalgic ruins 8 kilometres away.


Carnival was on – in the mornings, water is sprayed on the crowds from giant water tankers, whilst the nighttimes are given to serious partying.  One of the days is dedicated to the pollera, the voluminous, colourful skirt traditionally worn by Panamanian women.  Many of the Canal workers came from the West Indies and their Antillean Fair celebrates all things African in the Caribbean featuring food (we loved the Chombo chicken), handicrafts and dancing. 


We headed out to the Miraflores Locks (live WebCam) on the Panamá Canal where we saw a large container ship going through the locks – very impressive.


The view of modern Panamá City from Panamá Viejo

A church in Panamá City

Statue of Balboa, the first European to see the Pacific Ocean (1513)

The Cathedral in Casco Viejo

There are quite a few shanties in Casco Viejo

Ruins of the Jesuit Church

Beautifully restored and abandoned buildings on the waterfront

Trees growing through the windows of this old house

Another dilapidated place

A couple of musicians

Jeff buying dinner at the fish market - large prawns go for $12 a kilo

Ruins of the Cathedral tower at Panamá Viejo


Jesuit Church


One of the Carnaval floats

That´s a water pistol!

Polleras (Panamá skirts)

Devil at the Carnaval

Maypole dance at the Antillean Fair

Locks closing on a ship in the Canal