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Panama City’s Cinta Costera where the grass is green and untrampled

August 23, 2009

It was hard to get a feel for Panama City at first, cluttered roads, high rise apartments and homes hidden away behind high walls, steel bars and razor wire. And that’s only in the area where I’m staying. Since Thursday I’ve walked, what feels like countless circuits, around the districts close to me — like an aerobic workout — because they’re safe and can give me an indication of life in Panama City. After exhausting myself, wearing out under-worked limbs, I found nada. Even the cafes which make good coffee are unphotogenic.

Then I headed to the waterfront. An old place of new. If there is a world recession going on Panama hasn’t heard about it. High-rise apartments race against one another for the best view and design, multi-centre plazas have opened up around the city and a new road system has been completed and driven on since July 09. Not forgetting the people, a new urban park that links the trendy upmarket Costa del Este with the upcoming historic UNESCO Old French Quarters, Casco Viejo, was developed and opened in time for the new President’s inauguration: Cinta Costera, a park and road system costing over $189 million dollars.

On a Sunday the volume of people using the park is an easy indication of how long overdue it has been and how highly appreciated it is. When I moseyed along the park’s walkway, dodging tricycles, in-line skates and water sellers the atmosphere reminded me of a end of year school picnic. Almost carnival like. Adults sprawled out on the grass by the fountains and playground while kids exhausted their cocoa cola energy. Sausages and hotdogs sizzled on barbecues, shaved ice cones were formed from solid ice blocks and sat among  all the hype, people and banter were small scatterings of brightly dressed women — indians in traditional dress — selling jewellery, fabrics and embroidery. Too much?

Only some of the park is chaotic and crowded, towards the marina and apartment construction it quietens down, a lot. Couples tend to hang out here overlooking the small empty marina

by Cate

by Cate

With the occasional grouping of youths and women, who just want to sit on the wall and enjoy the cool shade, away from the maddening crowd.

by Cate

by Cate

Not too many luxury launches here yet. I’m guessing this is going to change within the next few years.

There are certain areas of the park where the grass is lush green, almost perfect and the park benches that sit on this grass are empty. Why?

by Cate

by Cate

This grass is precious, almost gold, please don’t step on it. If you want to get to that park bench — jump.

Not everything can be perfect. Unless you’re talking about grass.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Bear permalink
    August 24, 2009 10:19 am

    You write insightfully and the fact that you continue to do so while on the road is wonderful of you — thanks.

    As for that park bench sitting in the grass that is not to be stepped on … maybe it is a sculpture done by an artist with a wry sense of humor … maybe it’s one city bureacracy (the one that does the benches) not working with another (the one that caretakes the grass) 🙂

  2. August 24, 2009 10:25 am

    I think, from my limited Spanish, these signs have been a small point of discussion with some of the Panamanians. This is just from looking at forums on the internet.But the grass is certainly green. Thanks Bear for your warm words. Lets hope I can continue with new insights.

  3. August 25, 2009 7:55 am

    With a little time spent in one location doing ordinary things, you can begin to see a city as its residents do. ~Sounds like you’re quickly gaining that perspective…

  4. Zowie permalink
    August 25, 2009 11:05 pm

    how would you describe the part of the city that was non-photogenic? Is it someplace that you could see in any major city? Very urban and commercial, or it just looks like any city anywhere? From what you mentioned about the popularity of the waterfront it seems as though the city does not have a lot of green space. Do you think thats the case?
    or is the waterfront park just the biggest one around?

    • August 26, 2009 7:05 pm

      Bland no lines or angles worth noting, no colours that pop out. Lacking in architectural design, Much like that part of Osaka where Lotto stayed -concrete, shabby and rubbish. There are small parks around the city, but this is big and on newly reclaimed land on the waterfront, which makes it scenic and cooler. Plus it’s one of the first big things made just for the people so that’s a biggie here. The Canal is not for the people only those who enjoy politics. I have a postcard for you, just need to find a post office. These are few and far between.


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