The streets of Panama City can be confusing. For being such a small city, the one-way streets, frequent construction-caused lane closures, strange roundabouts, and other traffic woes can combine to make a maddening day out on the town.
I’ve been here in this country for going on 5 years, and I still don’t know all of the roads. And from what I’ve gathered, many Panamanians don’t either. These are the typical directions you’ll get if you ask how to get to someone’s house:
“Yeah, just drive until you see the Delta gas station. Not the first gas station with the broken down car in the parking lot, but the second one, where Francisco works. Turn right after that one. Then go until you see the big mango tree next to the white house. Turn left there. Pass the field with the kids playing futbol…”
“What if no one is playing futbol? I’m coming later in the evening.”
“They’re always playing futbol, don’t worry. Pass that field, stop and ask little Juan Carlos where his tio lives. He’ll tell you the rest of the directions.”
I’ll never forget the time I got lost leaving the PriceSmart on Via España. I was absolutely sure I knew where I was going. It was 5 o’clock traffic too, so any deviation from my plan could mean another hour in traffic trying to get back on course, so I followed the line of cars going in the direction I was sure would get me home. Boy was I wrong.
An hour later, the traffic began to thin out and I realized I was driving into a not-so-foreigner friendly area. How did I know this? Well…most of the people I saw roaming around were barefoot. I grew up in some pretty shady areas and in those areas people wore shoes. They might’ve had guns tucked into their jeans, but at least they had on shoes. So I figured any place where people were running around barefoot was probably not the place I should be driving through.
I eventually made my way home safely.
So the other day I got to thinkin,’ “I bet I’m not the only one getting lost around here.”
This video series, which I’m calling “The Real Streets of Panama,” is aimed at helping people learn a little about the streets before trying their hand at them. These will be short videos, where I’ll be filming as I drive the streets. I’ll hit one street in each video, and try to point out things you need to know along the way.
Hope these help, guys!
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