Life in Panama, some quick notes.

Some parts are in Dutch, sorry .. note that I will add texts/picts as time goes by .. click on picts to enlarge ..

0. First impressions

I’m in a bit of a suburbian condo with a little too much street noise and not much atmosphere but in terms of living like the panamanians, that is my case. I’m like a middle class panamanian, but only just too tall and white. :-) It will be temporary though and either way the warm weather is what counts for now: super nice temperature, no rain (usually about 30deg/50%RH).

Babes all over the place, it’s nuts. I’ll probably never come back.

Salsa everywhere, but only few clubs that play it, and only one club (thusfar) with real dancefloor and crowd. also found one danceschool !

Few $$ necessary to have a good time, unless you want some chick (chica) cause you’ll end up paying for her one way or another (but hey, what’s new)

1. Where I live

After my first two weeks in suburbia I moved to a better place. It’s called Paitilla, a mini-peninsula that is populated with lots of high rises. My building is right next to the nuns monastery (or something like that) where the infamous Noriega hid when the Americans came to boot him from power a couple of years ago. Unfortunately paitilla is right next to the Bahia de Panama which is basically a sewer dump that doesn’t have a proper water circulation. Every now and then I just can’t stay in the appartment or have to close all the windows and turn the airco on full to deal with the stench. I even worry it’s a health risk since H2S is a poisonous gas. Apart from this repugnant smell the building is right next to avenida balboa which handles an awful lot of traffic including jams. The noise is certainly too much for me, even though I live on the back side of the building. Click here for a video of the appartment.

Finding an appartment

Check, or buy the printed copy. You gotta go and see the places, I found because it’s pretty hard to imagine some place and their neighbourhood from the minimal descriptions in the newspaper. Most appartments are rented for at least 6 months minimum, in a rare case you can find something for 3 months. This is even more true for furnished appartments because some owners/managers tell me renters just wreck the place, so what would be the point of renting it for less than 6 months if one needs to do repairs worth more than the damage deposit (usually half a month’s rent). Many places are rather worn out or dirty or minimally furnished. The dirt comes from the streets and elsewhere, it’s just amazing how quickly the appartment needs cleaning, especially if you leave the windows open for some cooling breezes. Also, in most cases you need to setup the electricity and telephone. Where I am it was all setup already, so it’s more like an appartmenthotel (aparthotel). Internet is another problem because highspeed internet can only be obtained if you sign a contract for a year orso (see below). So the phonemodem ends up being the default. The only consolation one has is that the phone can be had with unlimited calling for a mere $25/month.

Internet cablemodem / ADSL
CableOnda: 18 months min. contract
Cable & Wireless: 18 months min. contract
BellSouth: 12 months min. contract, cancellation fee $100
??: "Whisper" wireless internet, 12 months min. contract

Internet WiFi:
Cafe Sante, Multicentro
Cafe Sante, ..
Cafe Cafe, Av. Balboa
Don Pascual Cafe
Sushi Itto, Plaza Obarrio

Internet phonemodem $11.95 / mo, unlimited

If you wanted to access the internet in an internet cafe, try via veneto, near hotel panama. there’s a place there called "La Red" that has excellent service and connections. Their international calling facilities are also excellent: $0.07 to USA/Canada !

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