Markets in Panama City

Looking for the freshest goods at the best prices? Skip the supermarkets and head to Panama City’s street markets. Not only will you get a good deal on fresh seafood, vegetables, and handicrafts – you’ll also get a one-of-a-kind shopping experience unique to Panama City. Listed below are the markets in Panama City, what they sell, and where they are located.

Mercado de Mariscos

Mariscos means seafood, so at this fish market you will find fresh fish, oysters, clam, shrimp, octopus, and scallops sold daily. Each item is wrapped to order and can be filleted for you. There is also a restaurant on the very top level of the market.

Location: Between Avenida Balboa and Calle 15 Este, Casco Viejo, Read more

Getting a Driver’s License in Panama

If you don’t have a foreign driver’s license that you can exchange for a Panamanian license, you will need to get a new license. Here is the process:

To get your license you need to complete theoritcal driving courses (36 hours) and practical training (20 hours) with an authorized driving school. Hoever, There are only a few authorized driving schools in Panama, but the most popular on in Panama City is Auto Depot, because everything can be done in one place. Right across the street sits the Panama Road Transport Department (Autoridad del Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre – ATTT) office where driving tests are taken and licenses are issued.

In addition, you need to take several health tests, including hearing Read more

Exchanging your Driver’s License in Panama

As a visitor to Panama, you are legal allowed to drive for 90 days on your foreign driver’s license (see our post on Driving in Panama). However, after that your license is no longer valid. Therefore, if you are residing in Panama, you will need to exchange your driver’s license so that you can legally drive in Panama.

Exchanging your license takes a bit of work, but it isn’t too difficult or costly. First, you need to have the following documentation ready, with foreign documents translated into Spanish:

Residency card, original plus a photocopy Foreign license, plus a copy which must be authenticated by the applicant’s Consulate in Panama and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Read more

The Theater Guild of Ancon

If you haven’t yet discovered the delightful Theater Guild of Ancon, now is the time to check it out. Billed as “The only English speaking theatre in Panama,” per their Twitter page, TGA produces a variety of plays each season and the 2015 season is about to begin with Cole Porter’s “Panama Hattie.”

When “Panama Hattie” premiered on Broadway in 1940 it ran for over 500 straight performances. You’ll only have two weekends to catch the show at the Theater Guild of Ancon, the weekends of March 12 and March 19.  Cole Porter’s musical production about night club owner and performer Hattie and her naval officer fiancé Nick is set during the construction of the Panama Canal. The show has Read more

Play It Safe

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than being a victim of theft or violent crime. Here are a few tips that will help you protect yourself while traveling and help you play it safe. No matter where you are going, when traveling you need to increase your level of caution and be extra alert to any sort of danger.

Target: Tourist

While, on paper, tourist are afforded the same legal protection against crime, in practice, foreigners are more likely to be victims of crime than locals for several reasons. Primarily, tourists tend to carry more valuables: cash, jewelry, credit cards, expensive purses, briefcases, laptops, the list is endless. Second, tourists can be easily distracted, taking in new sights and experiences. Read more

In Person or via Email or In person chat? Which works and which does not?

There are so many challenges to ex-pat living: language barriers, unfamiliar laws and customs, new foods, different weather, strange critters, but the biggest challenge can be living far away from loved ones. Maybe your parents are long gone, your children are grown and moved away from what was once home, and friends you grew up with have scattered to the four winds. But still, you have left “home.”

Sure, you have plenty to keep you busy in your new home. You are making progress with the language, fewer cars honk at you, and you have acquired your favorites in local dining. But still, every now and then nostalgia creeps in and wraps around your thoughts, tugging you back to a Read more

Creepy Crawlies-Spiders in Costa Rica

If you like spiders, you’ve come to the right place. Costa Rica is crawling with them. In fact, the world’s most venomous spider, the Brazilian wandering spider, has indeed ‘wandered’ out of Brazil and hangs around Costa Rica.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one of this species, but I’ll never forget the spider I heard in the shower. Yes, heard. Thankfully I wasn’t in the shower, but it was, and it was so large it actually made noise climbing up the plastic shower curtain. This caused me to make an even louder noise, which caused someone else to rescue me. I was informed that spider was harmless. I’m still not convinced. After all, heart attacks are not harmless. Read more

Driving in Panama

Getting behind the wheel in a foreign country can be a dilemma. The promise of independence is tempting, but the fear of getting into an accident, getting lost, getting ripped off, getting robbed, getting arrested and getting dead understandably put many people off.

These are all valid fears for those that have traveled through other parts of Latin America where terrible road conditions and equally terrible driving practices regularly terrify new visitors.

But the story in Panama is pleasingly different.

Driving in Panama is pretty safe and as close to driving in the US or Canada as you can experience south of Texas.

The roads are in good condition, the signposting is logical and the traffic laws are regularly enforced Read more

Hiking Panama Sendero

It’s easy to spend all your time in Panama in the capital. But a huge diversity of natural treasures awaits those willing to pull on some hiking boots and make excursions into the more rural west of the country.

One place definitely worth the effort is the Sendero los Quetzales near the Volcan Baru National Park in the province of Chiriqui. This 8km hiking trail meanders through pristine cloud forest between the mountain towns of Boquete and Cerro Punta.

The trail is named after the Quetzal birds that live here and whose resplendent feathers were coveted by the Maya and Aztecs for use in their headdresses. Catching a glimpse of these stunningly beautiful, but near endangered birds in their natural Read more

The Best Coffee in Panama?

If you’re anything like me, the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your first coffee. The first scent of delicious aroma, the warmth of the steaming cup in your hands and the jolt of caffeine as the first sip goes down aren’t so much a daily habit as a sacred ritual.

Unfortunately, not all coffee is created equal and it can sometimes be a challenge to find a cup of Joe that meets your exacting standards when you’re a thousand miles from home.  Sure, it’s easy to find something that’s called coffee just about anywhere, but all too often what you get falls far short of the standard. And it’s not just the coffee but the atmosphere you have to Read more