October 6, 2014
It’s been minutes since I left the confines of a plane that has taken me more than 7,000 km from my home. It’s dark. Our Uber is tiny, and the streets are narrow. Cobblestone rumbles under our wheels and outside the windows I struggle to comprehend what I am seeing. I’ve been told by people who I trust that Panama is a safe place to visit but the scenes in front of me seem to challenge that. Random faces look back at us, some standing around split oil barrels converted into open fire grills. In this strange world my mind races to ponder what they might be cooking. My imagination runs wild.
But it is for not.
A few streets away we disembark and here, in the heart of Panama City, Casco Viejo (the old city), we find an open-air bar brimming with travelers from around the world. All smiling; all safe; all embracing what I am to learn is one of the best places they have ever traveled.
Yes, our quick spin though El Chorrillo, a neighbourhood that was caught in the cross-fire of the U.S. invasion in 1989, was a startling introduction to the core of this city…
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