My trip to Panama earlier this year was a real eye opener. Panama is famous for its canal that allows ships to travel between the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean without travelling the whole length of South America, and this amazing feat of engineering is worthy of celebration. However there are also many other facets to this unique country. There are a great variety of landscapes: tropical rainforest, cloudforest, volcanoes, seemingly endless beaches, untouched islands; and an abundance of wildlife including over 900 species of birds. There is also a good standard of accommodation and infrastructure allowing visitors to travel easily between regions.
For me however the most memorable feature was the people. Panama has a large, visible indigenous population made up of different communities, some of which are autonomous. There is also a diverse and intermixed immigrant population, not only as a legacy from the Spanish colonial era, but also descendants of the many workers on the Panama Canal. Migrants were also attracted by the resulting trade and again more recently by Panama City’s economic boom. These influences colour Panamanian life in many ways. However for the adventurous spirited, staying as a guest of the Kuna community on a tropical island in Kuna Yala gives a truly unique insight to another way of life.
Jude, Sunvil Traveller