The green cufflinks connecting the Americas
Panama City: The cosmopolitan capital of Panama and home to the Panama Canal. The city links North America to South America, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Needless to say the significance of the city is great and its cultural diversity is captivating. The Central American energy is diffused with a sense of futuristic innovation unlike the other countries in Central. It’s duality prevails as both the vibrant metropolis and gateway to tropical islands and inland destinations. Pick any island or region and you won’t be disappointed.
“Many worlds coexist here. Welcoming both east and west, Panama is a regional hub of trade and immigration. The resulting cultural cocktail forges a refreshing ‘anything goes’ attitude, more dynamic and fluid than its neighbors.
Unflinchingly urban, the capital rides the rails of chaos, with traffic jams, wayward taxis and casinos stacked between chic clubs and construction sites. A center of international banking and trade, the sultry skyline of shimmering glass and steel towers is reminiscent of Miami. In contrast, the peninsula of Casco Viejo has become a thriving colonial neighborhood where cobblestones link boutique hotels with underground bars and crumbled ruins with pirate lore.
Escape is never far. Day-trip to sandy beaches (Pacific or Caribbean), admire the canal, or explore lush rainforests of howler monkeys, toucans and sloths.” – Lonely Planet
Truth Behind the Cheap
Things to consider before choosing Central America for your holiday:
Central America is one of the most affordable travel destinations in the entire world. Low costs of transportation, accommodation and most importantly drinks out at the bar makes this area very appealing for young people or those just looking for a good time without spending a fortune. Regardless of what is written here you will have a great time visiting Central America. My intention is not to deter you from this destination but to make you more aware than I was about the conditions necessary to create such an affordable environment. There is always a catch; nothing is ever free whether it costs you time, money, comfort or your health.
Being honest to my personal experience in Central America, I have never eaten worse food in my life. By the end of the trip I could feel my body being starved of the nutrients I had grown accustomed to. The more rural you are, the less access there is to fresh fruits and vegetables. Some places in Central America are relatively impoverished which greatly affects consumption of the people living there. Sacrificing healthy food needs to be something you are willing to do in order to enjoy your time in Central America.
Rice and beans were the main staple of our diet. We tried not to eat meat too often, but without other options chicken was always the best choice; especially if you have to eat somewhere questionable. Even coffee rarely came from anywhere but a jar of powder which surprised us because so many designer coffee vendors in the US advertise “Grown in Guatemala” etc… Apparently the coffee they grow skips their shelves and is exported before they get the chance to brew it themselves.
Try to be aware of where your food is coming from, nothing will ruin a trip faster than food poisoning but chances are you’ll have to take some risks. We quickly became dependent on processed foods from gas stations or stands off to the side of roads.
On average it must take nearly twice as long to travel by bus than it does by your own vehicle or flying. If time is of no concern to you (have all the time in the world) or you are happy staying in one place then taking buses is the way to go. If you don’t want to spend the majority of your trip on a bus you either need to limit the number of destinations you visit or pay more for more efficient transportation. If you are on a tight budget it is still worth traveling by bus but if possible it is worth while to avoid.
Personally, I want to make the most of the time I have when I’m traveling. I don’t go to new countries to simply lay on the beach or hang out in a city for the whole trip. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I simply prefer to have diverse experiences and see everything I possibly can in the time I have. It is more affordable to stay in one place rather than move around. Its cheaper to take a bus than renting a car or taking a flight. If you don’t have the budget to see everything you want to, prioritize and make something happen. Only seeing a small part of a country is much better than not going at all.
The exception to most of this information is Costa Rica due to its long history of developing tourism making the country much wealthier and able to accommodate to the wants and needs of tourists. This section does not apply to Panama City.