The first time we visited Panama, some 4 1/2 years ago, we were stunned by the sight of a large capital city with high-rise condo buildings and skyscrapers, which are home to multinational corporations and banks, glittering in the night sky, fronted by the lovely Bay of Panama. It is easy to be starry-eyed about this amazing and surprising world-class city here in Latin America, but you must take a little time to look around to find some of the other more hidden jewels in Panama that will delight you.
As you drive from the west side of the Panama Canal and come up onto the Puente de las Americas over the Canal, you really don’t want to have to be the driver–you may even wish for stop-and-go traffic–so that you can take in the views on virtually every side from up on the bridge: the impressive Panama City skyline; the Panama Canal and the large ships moving in and out, escorted by tugboats; the port facilities of Balboa to the north; the beautifully restored Causeway de Amador to the south.
If you are very lucky, while you are on the bridge enjoying the sights all around, you may catch sight of an airliner flying in low over the top of the bridge on its approach to the airport in Albrook. It is an absolutely breathtaking sight and difficult to catch on camera, as the bridge has no pedestrian walkways!
A Closer look
But let’s step back to the Amador Causeway. It could be easy to overlook this wonderful place simply because of its location, just off the Bridge of the Americas. Not always the simplest to navigate, the road to the Causeway curls around, with confusing signage, and requires a left-hand turn across traffic to access! But it is definitely worth the fuss of finding your way there.
The Amador Causeway was built in 1913 by the United States, using stones from the Culebra Cut of the Panama Canal toward the end of the construction of the Canal. The causeway runs along the Panama Canal and connects Panama City with 4 islands: Naos, Perico, Culebra and Flamenco. The Amador site was occupied by the US Military in order to protect the Pacific entrance to the Canal. The US installation was called Fort Amador. Today, there remain many buildings that still witness to the US presence there.
Because Amador is a great place for walking, running or biking, you may want to find your way to the Balboa Yacht Club (home of the long pier you see from the bridge) and park you car. You can take a walkway along the Panama Canal all the way to Isla Flamenco. You will find benches situated all along the route and trees to shade you on sunny days. Break up your walk or ride by enjoying a view of the big ocean liners on the Canal and taking in the beautiful skyline of Panama City. Also along the way and over on the main road, you will find hotels and restaurants of all kinds boasting specialties from all over the world.
It is impossible to miss the Biomuseo when you are on the Amador Causeway. This impressive structure was designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry and is like nothing else you have ever seen, with bold colors and angles that you may only understand if you take the time to visit the museum and watch the film about Frank Gehry’s vision for the museum. The grounds of the museum are also very impressive. On any given weekday, you may see large groups of
school children, on a field trip to the museum, a favorite destination for educational outings.
The Biomuseo is not the only educational facility on the Causeway. About 1 kilometer down the road, you will see the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Naos Island Laboratory. This is a part of the impressive and extensive Smithsonian Research facilities in Panama.
On Amador, you can enjoy lunch or dinner at some of the varied restaurants with a view of the Panama City skyline and later visit one of the nightclubs. You will typically not find large crowds on the Amador Causeway, which I enjoy, since you can get a table at a good restaurant without a long wait. If you decide to make Amador home, you can find lovely condos on Isla Naos , where you have a view of the Canal 24/7. The Amador lifestyle can also be appreciated if you decide to take a condo on Isla Flamenco, where the beautiful Panama City skyline is always before you.
The “no large crowds” may change in the not-too-distant future since they are currently in the process of building a port for cruise ships visiting Panama. Up to this time, cruise ships to Panama have only been able to stop in Colon on the Atlantic side of the Canal. With the completion of this new port, ships will be able to come to the Pacific side for greater accessibility to Panama City. The Causeway should be able to easily accommodate the thousands of extra visitors with a large duty-free store and 40+ restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and stores.
Another change to Amador in the future is the new Figali Convention Center, now under construction. This convention center will be able to accommodate more than 20,000 visitors and will be a welcome addition for international visits who have, up to this time, only had access to the Atlapa convention on the east side of Panama City. The new convention will offer a stunning location right on the Canal and will attract people from all over the world who want to get a taste of beautiful and exciting Panama City.
The many attractions, the trail system, restaurants, pubs, shops, condos, make Amador a great place to live or visit.
Panama – Happy, Peaceful
What a surprise!
On October 10, there was a soccer game.
Not just any soccer game.
This game was between the Panama national team and the Costa Rica national team. The winner would qualify to go to the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup championship.
Now, the people of Panama live soccer like people in the US live American football. Kids here play soccer from the time they can walk. Kids dream of someday playing for a national soccer team or a professional soccer team. Grown-ups project their love of the game through watching and cheering their team on. The national team is simply an extension of most people here in Panama. They love their team no matter what, but Panama has never gone to any kind of soccer world championship.
Guess what? THEY WON!
Not only that, it was a stunning win in the closing moments of the game. It was a blast! People celebrated that goal, which took just seconds to score, for hours! In fact, they celebrated the entire following day. President Juan Carlos Varela thought the best thing to do, in order to avoid huge traffic problems and people going to work drunk the next morning, would be to declare October 11 a spontaneous National Holiday! What a swell guy.
It just so happens that October 11 is Norma’s birthday. If she had known about this declaration, things might have been different. But, as it was spontaneous, it affected things that affected things for Norma.
We had headed into Panama City the morning of Norma’s birthday, planning to shop at Albrook Mall, then head to our favorite airport hotel to spend the night before Norma’s early morning flight to the States on October 12. A great plan: Norma would stop at our bank branch at Albrook and pick up her cash for her 2 1/2 week trip to the States, she would do some fun shopping for her birthday, then to the hotel and a nice dinner.
WRONG! Since it was a national holiday, the banks were closed. We didn’t have a clue as to why. The guard just said it was a holiday. We never saw any notices at the bank about a holiday. What the heck! So, Norma had to leave for the States with only $45 in cash and, since she was going to Indiana, no local bank to visit for cash since her bank is only in Colorado!
What fun! We have a saying here: TIP (This is Panama!) And we say it with a smile, because, for the most part, people are happy here. They are friendly and Panama is a peaceful and safe country. Think about so many countries that have had wars or revolutions over the past century: Germany, France, Argentina, Nicaragua and the list goes on. Panama has been at peace for more than 100 years– no revolutions, no wars, no coups. A peaceful, hard-working, fun-loving people.
HASS AVOCADO FARM NEWS ALERT!
We knew the time would come and is, in fact, upon us: the developers of the commercial Organic Hass Avocado farm development is closing out sales of individual one-hectare farm plots in December.
Nothing lasts forever, but
if you intended to make at least one of these beauties yours forever, now is the time to act.
No kidding. They are still offering the 2 1/2 acre parcels for the original price of $45,000. Remember that you own the land (deeded ownership), the trees and the fruit. The farm management company handles everything for you from soup to nuts. They do, in fact, already have purchase contracts in place for avocados that will not even be ready for harvest for 4 years, so great is the demand for these highly coveted avocados worldwide. This is the type of investment that helps you grow your wealth through passive income, even while the asset itself is also increasing. And that income will increase with higher product prices and higher yields, a natural inflation protection.
What you need to do now is to complete and return a simple reservation form, which you can download here or email us to request one in your email: CLICK FOR RESERVATION FORM
As always, if you have comments or questions regarding these topics or any others we have addressed in the past, please comment here or send us an email to fpb@AnAmericanInPanama.org. We love to hear from you!