Panama City – surprising stories
Surprised by this overwhelming politeness I feel rapidly connected to their group. They change the language of the discussion from Spanish to English and after a few minutes in a certain way I feel integrated.
That hadn´t happened if I had been travelling within a group.
We start conversations about Panama City. “What´s your impression about the city?” they ask me. I would say this city has three faces. One is the majestic skyline which is really imposing and doesn´t have to hide in a worldwide comparison. The next is Casco Viejo which has in between two different faces, the new restored, shine and nice buildings on one hand and the old but charming remains of the Spanish imperialists. And the third face is the still visible side of a poor minority of citizens which were left beside the economic draft of the last years and the financial conveniences induced by the Panama Canal. The people who struggle to take the rhythm of modernization others dictate.
This three faces of Panama City illustrate the exiting appearance, they unveil the people’s problems and thoughts and also the conversation within the group shows that a lot of opinions have to be discussed.
Eventually we´re moving to another bar. Sitting outside on a round table, we´re discussing the area where we are at the Moment. It is named “Casco Viejo“. Known as the old town of panama. Old means almost ancient. The houses were built during the Spanish colonialization. Casco Viejo is a mixture of differences. A new super shiny, super professional restored house is next to a through the time almost destroyed building. And the question within the group is: Restore it all or leave it as it is?
One opinion is that this old houses, this ruins and run-down villas keep the charm of a previous society, an old century. They keep it authentic.
While others bring forward the argument that it all has to be well restored. That the people who live in this shabby houses and are not able or willing to maintain it, have to leave.
My opinion is diverse. On one hand the old, disrepaired houses keep for sure the undoubted charm of this district. But on the other hand the charm will get lost if there is no restoring at all. A lot of buildings look unsafe, soon to collapse.
Perhaps there would be a solution in keep some of this untouched houses, restore them just as necessary and convert them into an authentic museum. Made by people who live there for ages and still willingly to live there in the future. Sure the realisation would be tricky.
One thing is sure. A change is about to come. The difficulty is to keep the charm and some of the locals and not to sell everything to wealthy property agents.
Apart from this area, there is still a long way to go for Panama and their neighbor countries – and that is what makes it interesting – to feel the rhythm of Panama on its way to wealth, security and sustainable solutions.
So we´re sitting outside on the street, watching the houses of Casco Viejo and still celebrating the first step towards to Panamanian solutions – a open minded discussion and a bottle of Panama-Beer. Cheers.
‘Reed more about it soon in Panama City – Part III:
It´s the people!