I have just returned from Cuba and will be posting extensively on that trip soon, but for now here is a bit I learned about Panama:
- If they don’t know your name, Panamanian’s refer to anyone under 40 as joven, meaning “young.” Having just turned 30, I was more than happy to be called this.
- Taxi drivers invent prices. I feel as though I spent the whole week negotiating with them. If you’re a tourist, they will try to con you, so it is important to ask the locals how much it should cost before you get a cab. If you speak Spanish, you will be able to haggle for the correct price.
- The local rum is called Abuelo, which I did not enjoy that much.
- They have decent roads. When I went to Costa Rica, the bus rides were a nightmare of bumpy, unpaved roads. Perhaps because of all the years America was running the canal, the roads in Panama are better quality than many places in Central America.
- Their coins mirror America’s. Panama uses the U.S. Dollar as their currency, in addition to what they call Balboa, which is basically the same thing. The bills are standard American banknotes, but Panama has their own coins. With the exception of the dollar coin which is two colors, their coins are roughly the same size and color as the U.S. ones, making them quite easy to use (if you’re American).
- The indigenous Kuna women walk around in their traditional, bright-colored dresses, which resemble muumuus. They sell them in some souvenir shops, but they are quite expensive: upwards of $40.
- The temperatures and climate vary greatly throughout the country. Panama City is a hot and humid hellhole, where as Boquete is more arid and breezy. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts and beaches also have very different vibes.
- The locals just refer to Panama City as Panama. They understand by the context when you mean the city and when you mean the country. Also, I didn’t know until I got there that Boquete is pronounced as if there is an accent on the end: bo-ke-te.
- Frosted Flakes in Panama are called Zucaritas.