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Republica de Panama
Viaje a Panamá
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Map of Panama

Home Sweet Home.....
 
I split my time here between two places as life in the jungle can be a lot to handle for days at a time, and I have to come back once a week for food and supplies.   The city I stay in on the weekends is David.   David is the third largest city in the country with a population of about 115,000.    It´s hot, dusty, and dirty and doesn´t offer a lot for the tourist passing through, but it´s a good central point for day trips out to Boquette and Vulcan - both quaint little towns nestled in the mountains. 
My placement with the Ngobe Bugle peoples is in Altos del Valle and El Valle Abajo.   These are two small villages located in the mountains north of here.   If you look at the map, move your eyes straight up from David and I´m somewhere in the middle  of the Changuinola area before you reach Bocas del Toro.   

And then there's the food.....
 
I have to admit that of all the places I've traveled Panama offers the least to arouse my taste buds.  There is a very strong tendency to fry anything and everything within site.  I've seen someone fry chicken wrapped in ham and cheese and hot dogs.  However I will readily admit that the fruit here is something to write home about - it's so incredibly delicious and CHEAP.  My favorite discovery so far is something called the "pifa" or "pixbae" which is the fruit of the palm tree.   You can eat it raw, boil it, fry it (of course), or do a variety of other things with it.  It's not really sweet like most fruits, more of a starchy taste but it's so good with a little salt and a cup of coffee.  And it's a nutrtional superstar with a nutritional value equivalent to one egg and a whole lot of Vitamin A.   Additionally there's a few other things I really enjoy here which I've listed below.
 
Patacones: green plantain mashed and fried and served as an a appetizer or like french fries to accompany meals
 
Bollo de maiz nuevo: young cornmeal dough meal boiled in it's own leaves (This is my favorite!)
 
Chicheme: beverage made of cornmeal cooked with water,  sugar, and cinnamon
 
Ceviche: raw fish marinated wth lime, onions, and hot chili.  Served as an appetizer.
 
Empanadas: corn turnovers filled with ground meat and fried.  It can also be made with flour.  Served as a snack or appetizer.
 
Platanos en tentacion: can be made with ripe plaintains or bananas cut lengthwise and baked or broiled with lots of butter and brown sugar and with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Should be eaten hot and is served to accompany a main course.
 
Yuca frita: manioc boiled and fried.  Can also replace french fries.
 
 
 

QUICK FACTS
 
Location
Between Columbia and Costa Rica
 
Population
2,960,784
 
Area
78,200 sq km
 (slightly smaller than South Carolina)
 
Climate
tropical maritime, hot and humid with a prolonged rainy season
 
Government
Constitutional Democracy
 
Exports
 bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing
 
Currency
 Balboa
(is actually the US dollar but with a different name)
 
 
 
 
 

¿Cuanto Cuesta?
 
Comparing prices is always an interesting part of traveling and living abroad.   I´ve found prices on some things here to be dirt cheap, and others I´ve found to be rather expensive considering that the minimum wage here is a mere $1 per hour.    The currency used here is called the Balboa, but in reality it´s the U.S. dollar.  The value, however, is less.    Here are some prices for fairly typical purchases....
 
Cup of coffee:  $0.40-0.60
Bottle of Panamanian Beer:  $0.35
Bus Fare in the City of David:  $0.25-0.35 per ride
Bus Fare from David to Panama City:  $10.40 for the seven hour ride
New House in David: $12,000-30,000 (about three bedrooms)
Luxury Condo in Panama City: $56,000 (this is in a secure building with pool, fitness facilities, and underground parking!)
Stamp to Canada: $0.40
Gallon of Gas: $1.89 on average
2.5kg (5 lb) bag of rice: 1.50
Whole Coconut cracked open with a staw for you to drink the milk: $0.25
Hamburger and soda:$1.00
Pair of new blue jeans: $4.99
Movie Ticket (Matine): $1.80