My first few days in Panama City

Where do I even begin!

It hasn’t dropped below 27 degrees Celsius, and I have to say, I am loving it. No rain, too, even though this is considered the rainy season! If I ever do get too hot however, every single building (my work and apartment included), has  air conditioning. My apartment has two air conditioners, in fact; one in the bedroom and one in the living room. As someone who lives without air conditioning in Canada, I have to say that it’s pretty awesome.

Edeficio el Marquis, My Apartment Building
The rest of my building. I’m on the 19th floor!

The city is beyond beautiful. It’s an amazing mixture of  older (colonial?) architecture and brand new state of the art buildings and new construction randomly inserted into parts of the city. My apartment is located downtown very close (if not a part of) what would equivocate in Toronto to ‘the financial district’. Solid buildings.

The View from my Living Room Balcony. Stunning, and even BETTER at night!

Solid traffic, too. Panama City is undertaking a huge construction initiative to build a brand new underground transit system. Currently for public transit there are only buses. This construction has limited the traffic to an even narrower amount of usable roadway (think downtown Toronto, again), and that’s about what traffic is like in Panama Mon-Sat. Craziness! Drivers are not very polite, either. It’s almost like New York! Except in Spanish. (Picture coming soon.) People will signal only when convenient, and cutting people off in traffic is apparently a normal (though still unappreciated) thing to do. Jay walkers are also a big problem. People don’t use the walking bridges provided over busy roadways (nor do they obey the road signs), and as such there are a lot of accidents. I was witness to this first hand, when a girl was hit by a car right in front of where we were driving. Needless to say, I won’t be doing any jaywalking!

On a lighter note, for my first weekend here in Panama City, I went bike riding on the Amador Causeway, a man-made road in the middle of the Ocean that leads to a group of man-made islands, constructed from dirt dug up during the construction of the Panama Canal! It was beautiful (there are so many palm trees everywhere!), you could see the skyline of the entire city. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes though. I’m still on the hunt for some bite – relief cream.

Amador Causeway at dusk, and Panama City Skyline in the background.

The supermarket right by my apartment was an adventure (called ‘El Rey’). I live only a few blocks away and am able to walk to it, watching carefully for traffic. However I discovered very quickly that the mass population of Panama does not speak English. Between my broken Spanish and sign language, I was able to get some fruits (Bananas are 37cents/lb here! My new favourite food too!), and a prepaid cell phone card to load minutes onto my newly purchased cell phone.

Needless to say the next thing I did was go home, eat some bananas, and start reviewing and practicing my Spanish!

What they say about the insect life being bigger in the South is true. I woke up my second day to the biggest cockroach I’d ever seen! The size of my thumb, I swear. I had no idea where it had come from, and, as I am terrified of bugs, managed to throw from a distance, a Spanish-English Dictionary on top of it. The book was four inches thick, I thought it would do the job. Two moments later, the cockroach walked right out from underneath the book like nothing had happened. What could I kill it with?! I frantically looked around for some sort of weapon that I could use or makeshift, and discovered that the maid (yes, I have a maid) had left a broom in the corner of the kitchen. After a few attempts at squashing the creepy thing, it finally met its end.

I was told by my coworkers that cockroaches are a common sight in Panama, and they are normally about 1-3 inches long. They don’t bite, but they do fly, and they will be more afraid of you that you are of them. Nevertheless, I don’t relish my next cockroach encounter (though I expect them to be rare, since that’s the only one I’ve seen in 5 days)…but I will be ready, broom (or something of that nature) in hand.

After a weekend of exploring and getting settled in to a new country, I’m excited for what work will bring!

Y estoy practicando mi Espanol!

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