The last visited country in Central America was Panama. Unfortunately the time didn't allow more than a visit of the capital. Already at the first glance, Panama steps out of the other countries in the region. Reasons are historical. Countries between Guatemala and Costa Rica were part of same administration unit during Spanish colonisation. Panama, on the other hand, belonged to Viceroyalty of Peru at that time.
In many things, strangely, it reminded me of the lands we visited in southeast Asia. A walk by the coast, clean parks and a view of skyscrapers reminds on Singapore.
A cozy walk from the skyscrapers and we end up in the middle of the old colonial part of the city - Casco Viejo. Words in Spanish mean: Old quarter. The buildings here are old but maintained. Still thehey represent the different world in comparison to the skyscrapers.
That is not everything the city has to show. Continue with walking and we come to the third world. This one is the least respectful.
Reminds me of Vietnam. A hairdresser on the street in front of a shop with, let's call it, second hand building material, is the best resemblance of Hanoi outside of Vietnam.
Most of the stores are ran by Chinese. Locals are considered quite lazy. The Chinese sense of business is enough to take over the market.
Official monetary currency is balboa. What's unusual, it has fixed exchange rate with American dollar - one balboa for one dollar. That way dollars become the unofficial second currency. In practice it means there is no local banknotes in the flow at all. Again, I can't put away the feeling and memories of southeast Asia. This timeI see the similarities with Cambodia.
The weather is similar too. A worker in Panama canal museum explained me, there are only two seasons here: rainy season and a very rainy season. I have a feeling it's just hot and humid like hell all the time.
And so we get to the main symbol of the country. Panama canal after more than hundred years of operation still represents a majority of the country's income.
It's the only nautical path where the captain grants full control of the ship to specially trained canal pilot. I was surprised it's possible to get completely close to the canal and watch the ships passing through. But enormous tankers and container ships are not the only users of the canal. Because the canal connects Antantic and Pacific through artificial lakes Gatún and Miraflores, all the water in canal is freshwater. The opportunity for a refreshing bath is not missed by local crocodiles :)