I have done a “Favorite Things” ongoing volumes of my favorite things about living in Panama, so I would like to do a least favorite things list too. It seems only fair. It is a list of things you should probably consider before committing to living here. If you are pretty laid back, these things will not bother you so much. But if you expect Panama to be the same as a pristine suburb in the US, you may be very disappointed. These things apply to Panama City:
1. Garbage. There is an ineffective garbage pick up service in Panama City. Trash piles up fast and sits a while. You will see piles of it on street sidewalks, often feeding feral cats.
2. Sidewalks, or the lack of them. Sidewalks in PTY are more like an obstacle course. On one block in my neighborhood, which is San Francisco, an upscale community, there are three two foot deep holes, four rusty pipes sticking up from the broken concrete, several mud slicks, three sections of broken tiles, many splits in the concrete where tree roots have pushed up the concrete, two long patches where there is no sidewalk at all and the curb is a full foot long step down. My husband and I are gamers and like to think of it as gaining experience points while walking; “OK, that was 5 XP getting over that hole, 2XP for avoiding the pipe, 10 XP for not getting hit by the oncoming cars and 50 XP if we get across Via Porras alive… it’s like human Frogger.” The guards at the bank across the street cheer when I make it across the street and I break into a victory dance.
3. Traffic. The traffic scares the hell out of me. The only relief from fear I have is the notion that the majority of this chaos is gridlock in the city in which goes slowly and is unlikely to be fatal if you are in a crash.
4. Car horns. AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH! This is the worst! Panamanians honk their fucking horns at EVERYTHING. All the time. All day, all night. No consideration for other people at all. No courtesy, no common sense. The traffic could be backed up because of construction and everyone is honking, as if the car in front of them can magically take flight and move forward at their whim. I think all car horns in Panama should be forcibly removed. It is a huge detriment to the city, a black eye on what is otherwise an awesome place, despite the negatives.
5. The heat. The humidity. This should probably be #1 but this list is random. The heat and humidity here is fierce. It is brutal. You go outside and you are sticky and hot. For those like my husband who professes to be “a lizard” this might be just fine. If you are one of those alien creatures that professes to be cold in 90 degree weather… eat a sandwich, and the heat might be fine for you. For the rest of us, it is uncomfortable and we must make ways to cope with it easier. I carry misting water bottle and fan with me. I walk with an umbrella to keep the sun off of me. I am pale and I don’t tan. I burst into flames like a phoenix.