Dating a Traveler is not an easy task. The previous article “Never Date a Traveler – unless you can keep up with them” was preparing for what will happen. This article will be about practical advice: what to do if you already date a traveler. You might have thought before that it won’t be such a big problem, or your partner decided to travel meanwhile. Nevertheless you don’t want to stop him/her from realizing own dreams. What can you do to keep the relationship?
My first visit which lasted only one day scared me. It was my first time when I’ve been outside of EU (besides a guarded hotel in Africa which doesn’t really count).
First impression: I cannot breath, I am gonna be mugged and murdered – only if I wouldn’t die in some hole before. There are plenty of them in sidewalks around the city. I wrote it before that the reception in my hotel scared me, as well as some shop assistants which recommended to don’t leave hotel after 20:00!
As often, second visit or experience with something completely new is better, more pleasant and allows us to look through the foreground, allows to see more details and real character – so it was this time.
The capitol of Panama is a colorful place, full of contrasts, events, music, emotions and smells. But lets start with the most important:
People of Panama City
Friendly and monolingual. If you give them any sign that you know even one word in Spanish, they will speak fast as you’d be native. If you will show that you don’t know Spanish at all, taxis will charge you double (they will try nevertheless, but saying simple ‘dos, no más’ [two, not more] will save you many $).
Very helpful, some come to ask can they help because you look lost. One person (thanks Richard!) walked with me for 10min to show me the best restaurant in the area!
They love football, atmosphere while watching any match with them is awesome, even if you don’t really care who will win 🙂
Looking for money. I tried to buy a car and so I could see a difference between rural regions in Panama and the capitol. People from the big city are more money oriented, which is not a surprise considering what a ‘gringo’ I am.
It’s a good idea to find people from your country or talking your language, they will tell you stories about Panama and direct you to the best places which probably will fir you. We met with Romanians (my gf is from there, thanks Janos and Cristian!) and it helped me understand many things and Panamanians’ behaviors. You can also try couch surfing or any facebook groups with internationals.
Places in Panama City
Casco Viejo, Via Argentina or Cathedral of Old Panama are only few places worth to see. I haven’t seen the Canal yet, however walking around the city (a specially next to the ocean) is very interesting. I found some nice restaurants on my way, which of the best one was Fisca Del Mar, because of it’s view.
You can find list of places worth it to see on many websites, but my advise is: use taxi and metro. Panama doesn’t have a typical downtown where pubs, clubs, cafeterias and restaurants are placed together. If you are not sure are you going to find something because there is nothing on google maps or in your guide, you probably won’t. Take a cab for 2$ and move few streets or a district farther and enjoy again. I’ve been walking at 13:00 through some long street looking for something to eat, when I finally found a Chinese restaurant I jumped inside and start drinking water – sun made me so dizzy.
Unfortunately nobody cares about the cleaning. Dirty sidewalks, streets, shops, buildings and goods in stores. This one has nothing to do with money, it’s simply taking a brush every few days and cleaning around, here it doesn’t happen besides shops of some big brands. Only those, skyscrapers and metro stations are tidy. In my opinion it’s the biggest problem of this city which cannot be simply changed without changing a mindset of a whole society.
Don’t be in some districts after 20:00. It happened that I’ve been walking back from Casco Viejo in the evening, and some people start following me and my girlfriend, fortunately a taxi appeared on time.
Read reviews in internet before you will pick up a hotel, some may have bugs, be laud and dirty. I stayed a second time in Hotel Bella Vista for 35$/room with AC. Clean and quiet, 3min of walk from a metro station.
Albrook Mall is a trap, unless you really need something, don’t go there. One place with a map for a 1000 shops, it’s so big that some shops are doubled, you cannot simply go inside and spend 30min, it’s a sea of shops and it’s quite expensive.
Enjoy small things in Panama City
I found joy in some small events, people dancing in a random place, crazy buses and many small details that I have never seen before. The city is alive and it’s easy to become a part of it, you just have to be in the right place at the right time, which apparently happens often by a coincidence.
Many people ask themselves what is the risk of going to tropic countries; is everywhere so bad like in the Amazon rainforest; will I die in tropics?!
Here you can see what I have found today within 2 hours – snake (boa) and a spider which hided 4 cm under my hand (under the laptop which was warm).
Reality is not so bad
Yes there are spiders and snakes, Yes some of them are venomous and you can die. However you risk everyday being hit by a car but you still leave your safe home to work, shop and school. You let your children play in a forest where a falling tree can kill it.
Due to statistics there is 10% mortality in Panama from venomous snakes. Due to Norman W. Elton, M.D. Chief of Gorgas Hospital in Panama which article we can read here, there is a small chance we will meet a snake like this and even smaller it will bite us. There are many reasons for that, but the most convincing is that we – humans – are much more dangerous for them that they are for us. Animals are scared of us and will not kill us for fun and entertained how our spice is doing often.
Animals defend themselves
Probably you don’t consider yourself as an aggressive person, now think about a giant that crosses your road and you have no way to hide, but you have a gun. Of course you will try your chance to survive, so it is with animals. Here you have few advices from an expert Norman W. Elton which can help you to avoid unpleasant situation with a snake and many other spices.
a. Do not travel alone in the bush; a companion may see the snake that you do not notice
b. Be well shod. At least do not wear low shoes. Tuck trousers into boots and have trousers loose and baggy.
c. Be watchful when using your hands in climbing or in clearing brush. The native who knows how to use a machete, has a bent stick in his left hand to hold branches and small vegetation prior to clipping it with his machete.
d. When you see a snake, freeze in your tracks until you can estimate the situation. The snake will not attack you, since he will be as much surprised and disturbed as you are, and the chances will be 4 to 1 that he is a nonpoisonous type.
e. If alone and proceeding through snake country, make a lot of noise to give the snakes a chance to get out of your way.
f. Carry in your equipment a rubber sheet (thin late) and a piece of rubber tubing for use as a tourniquet.
g. Be especially watchful at night. This is when the hungry snakes are hunting rodents. They will not be hunting you, but there might be a misunderstanding.
I have got bitten, what to do?!
First of all do not panic. I don’t have to explain how stupid it is, but your heart will start pumping blood faster and kill you quicker – we’d like to avoid it.
Make a picture
Is might sound odd but it will help identify was it toxic and which antidote you should get. It might save your life.
Check the food ball
Is the snake is after hunting and has a ball of food within him, his poison was less dangerous and you have more time.
Do mouth suction
Suck the poison out of the place you have been bitten, or let somebody else do it if you can’t reach the point on your own. Remember to don’t swallow the poison! 😉
Go to the hospital, doctor or anybody who can call them
If you are not sure should you be concern, just go. In the end it’s your health we that might be in danger.