First Impressions on Panama - Bus 142
DESTINATIONS Panama

First Impressions on Panama

A cool hat, the Panama Canal and a Van Halen song. That was pretty much everything I knew about Panama. And then I moved here. And sure thing I’ve found that Panama has much more to offer!

Bus142_Panama_discovering

Panama is a pretty small country when compared to Brazil. Only 3.8 million inhabitants and a 28.640 mi² area. Panama City, the capital and also the city in which I’m living today, has 813.000 inhabitants against 11 million only in the city of São Paulo for instance.

The official currency is Balboa, but the bills are no longer available, only coins. So what do they use? American dollar, which has the same value as Balboa. It is in fact pretty normal to get your change with both coins.

The traffic here is insane! People keep cutting each other off and if you don’t just throw your car in the middle of the street you might never be able to get into it.

People also park anywhere. Literally.

Todos esses carros estão "estacionados"

These cars are “parked”

With traffic being this crazy around here, it’s not a big deal to learn that drivers honk a lot!

Who also keeps honking are the taxi drivers. When they see you walking on the street, they honk because, you know… maybe you were considering taking a taxi ride?

By the way, the taxis here are pretty unique. They’re yellow like in New York and the taxi drivers are…peculiar, to say the least. They can deny your trip because they’re going elsewhere, they don’t use a taximeter and charge you the amount they see fit. Or how much they think you can pay, just because you are a tourist. The rides should be really inexpensive, something around U$ 3 to cross the town, but that can easily get up to U$ 20. So make sure to bargain before boarding.

The taxi drivers also stop by on the streets to pick up other passengers during a ride. Ain’t that super weird?

One of the options in public transportation is the famous Diablo Rojo. They look like old American school buses (which they might be, not sure), usually with graffitis and black light inside. Almost a walking party – well, in fact, there is actually one of the buses which is an actual walking party.
The Diablo Rojo don’t have a fixed route: so just hop on, tell the driver where you’re going and hope he will get you there!

Diablo Rojo | Foto @ Azteca Noticias

Diablo Rojo | Photo @ Azteca Noticias

Good thing Uber works pretty well around here! <3 I am such an Uber fan and my love for it has only grown since I arrived in Panama. There is plenty of drivers around town and the rides are super cheap: from Multiplaza Mall to Casco Viajo neighborhood, a 3.7 mile ride, you pay around U$ 3 or 4. Bus142PanamaUber

But be ready to use your best Spanish to explain to the driver where you wanna go, once there are no addresses in Panama. The streets do have names, but none of the building have numbers on it. So, have lots of place references and relax, the drivers ALWAYS get lost.

Moço, to perto dessa pracinha amor. Será você me encontra?

Sir, I’m close to this cute little square. Can you find me here?

Online services are pretty lame. Forget about paying stuff on your iPhone and you better not count on Internet Banking from banks in Panama.

The Colombian culture is very present in Panama. When we talk about food for example, this is pretty clear in the typical plate patacones, and please make sure you will give it a try before leaving the country!

Patacones delicinha! Foto @ El Planeta

Tasty patacones! Photo @ El Planeta

You can easily find American brands and fast food chains here. So you could have dinner in places like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell’s, IHOP, KFC… but really: patacones! Try the local food, it’s delicious and a great part of the experience in every travelling destination!

Dica: prove seus patacones no restaurante Tinajas e de quebra veja um show de dança típica muito legal!

Quick tip: try your patacones at Tinajas restaurant and enjoy their typical dance show!

Also be ready to hear a lot of reggaeton, which is played virtually everywhere.

Bailandoooo

Bailandoooo

To sum up: Panama is such an amazing country, with nice and helping people, rich in culture and filled with beautiful places to visit.
I’ve been living here only for a month and I can say I already feel in love with this chiquito country, which amazed me with all its differences.
Ain’t that what travelling is all about? 🙂

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Jadson
    Thursday March 31st, 2016 at 06:42 PM

    Adorei o relato Mari e ri principalmente com os taxistas, what??? Interessante, li várias coisas sobre o Panamá, mas deve ser uma experiência muito boa morar e se adaptar ai 🙂

    • Reply
      Mari Guedes
      Thursday March 31st, 2016 at 06:49 PM

      É uma delícia, mas tem vários desses momentos WTF! hahaha
      Mas acho que é essa a graça de sair da zona de conforto, né? 😉

  • Reply
    Celia Vasques
    Thursday March 31st, 2016 at 07:07 PM

    Pretty cool!! Wanna take a ride on Diablo Rojo…so charming!!

    • Reply
      Mari Guedes
      Saturday April 2nd, 2016 at 11:14 PM

      Charming starting by its name, right? hahaha

  • Reply
    Teté Bueno
    Thursday March 31st, 2016 at 07:08 PM

    Muito nice seu texto, Mari! Confesso que o Panamá não estava na minha lista de “Países a visitar um dia desses”, mas agora fiquei com uma pontinha de curiosidade. Fale das praias e do preço da cerveja na próxima 😉

    Sucesso, Marilinda!

    • Reply
      Mari Guedes
      Saturday April 2nd, 2016 at 11:16 PM

      Panamá merece muito estar nessa lista! Vem sim e me avisa pra gente tomar uma. E pode deixar que vou fazer um post especial de cervezas 😉

  • Reply
    Karina
    Thursday March 31st, 2016 at 07:51 PM

    Colocando o Panamá na minha lista! O trânsito sem regras e cheio de buzina me lembrou do Peru, onde os motoristas fazem exatamente isso.

    E a ausência de endereço existe também na Guatemala e na Costa Rica, onde as ruas nem tem nome! Você se localiza por distância em metros e referências (ande 400 m e vire à esquerda na casa azul). Até os endereços comerciais são assim, e eles também usam referências que nem existem mais, como “ao lado do antigo correio por exemplo.

    E por fim, o Uber vai lançar um esquema de táxi parecido com o que vc está experienciando aí, em que vc fecha um preço antes da corrida (com 25% de desconto), mas aceita que o motorista possa pegar outros passageiros no caminho.

    Tô adorando o blog!

    • Reply
      Mari Guedes
      Saturday April 2nd, 2016 at 11:12 PM

      Coloca, siiim! Vem me visitar 🙂
      Ka, já estive no Peru e a loucura no trânsito de lá ganha!
      E sobre a falta de endereços, eu nunca achei que minha mania de referências fosse ser valorizada hahaha mas é claro que eu me perco mesmo assim!

      Obrigada pelo carinho <3 continua acompanhando!

  • Reply
    Yuri
    Friday April 1st, 2016 at 06:45 AM

    Kkkkkk mto bom a parte de estacionar onde quiser e sem zona azul entao….mto bom…parabéns

    • Reply
      Mari Guedes
      Saturday April 2nd, 2016 at 11:10 PM

      Mais ou menos, né? Ta mais pra abandono de veículo! hahahaha

  • Reply
    Ohtsuki
    Wednesday July 13th, 2016 at 12:30 AM

    Muito legal o post, muito boas as suas dicas, e com certeza já ajuda a preparar o espírito para o que estou prestes a viver aí!
    Pelo menos, o pessoal buzina, te fecha no trânsito na cara dura, mas não briga…se você faz isso em SP…corre o risco de levar um tiro!!
    Sabe me dizer algo sobre atividade física aí? Imagino que lugar para correr…deve ter um monte, pelas belas praias, mas academia…não vejo quase nada sobre elas.

    • Reply
      Mari Guedes
      Wednesday July 13th, 2016 at 08:50 PM

      Oi, Edson! Fico feliz que tenha ajudado 🙂
      Vc tem razão, eu nunca vi briga de trânsito por aqui. Batidas eu sei que acontecem bastante, mas nunca vi também…

      Dá uma pesquisada sobre a Cinta Costeira. São calçadões aqui na cidade, e são ótimos para corrida/bike, além de ter algumas academias ao ar livre também.

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