In Panamá: Panamá City

Panamá City has many attractions.  Of course, you know about the Panamá Canal.  But there is more:

Although you will see many modern business people in suits and high heels, you will also see indigenous peoples in Panamá City.

When the Spanish arrived in 1501, several dozen native tribes inhabited Panamá.  Now only seven groups remain. But the indigenous culture is much more vibrant and present in Panamá than in neighboring countries such as Costa Rica although an inordinately high percentage of that population lives in poverty.   According to Lonely Planet Panama, “In the comarcas (autonomous regions), illiteracy runs between 10 and 30 percent.  Access to health care and education are serious issues” (p. 260-261).

However, the Guna (until 2011 spelled “Kuna”) have probably the most sovereignty of any indigenous group in Latin America.  The Guna woman above has a mola blouse, which is made of brightly colored squares of cotton fabric laid atop one another; cuts made through the layers form basic designs that  are held together with tiny, evenly spaced stitches  (LP 269). Her colorful fabric skirt, legs wrapped from ankle to knee in long strands of tiny beads – forming colorful geometric patterns – a printed headscarf, and many bracelets too all note that she is a Guna.

You’ll also see many beautiful churches in Panamá City.  The Iglesia de San José holds the famous Altar de Oro, the sole relic salvaged after the pirate Captain Henry Morgan sacked Panamá City  in 1671.

The Iglesia de la Merced – a small Casco Viejo church has a circa 1680 baroque facade –  one of the oldest Panamá City structures:

PC church cat

La Iglesia de la Merced church cat

For better photos, see:

You’ll see that Panamá City streets are great to walk.

PC cv cafe

What was a crumbling section of Panamá City is now an area of trendy cafés and renovated buildings

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Casco Viejo (Old Compound). When construction began on the Panamá Canal, all of Panamá City existed where Casco Viejo stands today.


Restored Casco Viejo streets

Beautiful architecture - old and new

Beautiful Panamá City architecture – old and new

Modern buildings and new construction in Panamá City

Modern buildings and new construction in Panamá City

PC art on street

Art forms on the street


Good museums – in Panamá City

Along the Panamá City Causeway

Along the Panamá City Causeway

View of Panamá City from the causeway

View of Panamá City from the Causeway

A pelican

A pelican near the Panamá City fish market

Memorable Panamá City sign - but I hope the stylist doesn't really look like this

Memorable Panamá City shop sign. The stylist doesn’t really look like this – nor the clients 🙂

People walking, riding bicycles, swinging or sitting on benches are shaded by an overpass along the waterfront in Panamá City

People walking, riding bicycles, swinging or sitting on benches are shaded by an overpass along the waterfront in Panamá City – the Cinta Costera


Colorful paintings on the walls of Panamá City

Colorful paintings on the walls of Panamá City

Panamá City - wall art

Panamá City – wall art everywhere

You’ll find happening places in Panamá City.  Here at the Veneto Hotel – a pool and nightlife.

Meeting people is always interesting wherever you are.

PC Eufracio & B

Barry with our Servas host Eufracio on the Causeway

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Gift from our Servas host

Nightlife at Casco Viejo:

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Beautiful walking streets – Casco Viejo


PC CV night3

Hanging out in Casco Viejo – music, ice cream, and lots of people to watch with Eufracio


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Iglesia de San Carmen


Visit Panamá City for the people, the museums, the history, the beautiful walking streets, and the nightlife.

Amor y Luz, Renée





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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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