Imagine beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, Panama! When I think about Panama, it brings a smile to my face.
Panama is the country that connects South and Central America together as one. It is iconic, a historical anomaly, and a feat of construction. Famous for the Panama Canal, thousands paid the ultimate price as a trench was dug through the centre of the country connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific. It remains one of the busiest trade routes to this day.
There is more to Panama than its legendary canal and Dubai-esque capital city. The beaches to the east and west are pristine. Palm trees line soft sandy beaches while robust marine life is a diver's dream. Central Panama has the type of jungle you want to explore, and mountainous Boquete is a florists dream. The archipelagos of Bocas del Toro and the San Blas are exactly what you would imagine the Caribbean to look like. If you closed your eyes you could almost see Captain Jack Sparrow sailing by. After all, Panama does have a colourful history of piracy.
The Panamanian people are both extremely hospitable and friendly, their cheerfulness is derived as a result of their perseverance and spirit. Sadly, they have had unfortunate horrors inflicted upon them both historically and currently. Through the building of the canal, civil war, the drug trade and currently the lawless border that is the Darian Gap (an area scattered with antigovernment guerrillas), the people of Panama trudge on with their heads held high. Don’t let the Darian Gap deter you however, it is difficult to reach as a tourist.
Expats often make their way to Panama as the history of the canal encourages international living. This international community coupled with Panama's use of US dollar as its national currency makes it a little more expensive than other countries in Central America. Try not to be discouraged by the cost as a little time spent in Panama will have you embracing their infectious smiles, enjoying their coffee, beaches, mountains and cultures.