A Trini, a Thai and a Russian walk up to a Panamanian bartender …

then you can pretty much add any ending to that joke you would like.


Panama has definitely not been on my bucket list of destinations. Panama’s claims to fame in my mind have the been

  • The Panama Hat (which btw, isn’t even Panamanian – it’s a traditional brimmed hat of Ecuadorian origin that is made from the plaited leaves of the toquilla straw plant – Teddy Roosevelt wore the thing when the Canal was being built and everyone associated the hat with Panama)
  • Manuel Noreiga – no explanation needed
  • Some sort of engineering marvel or whatever you want to call the “big ravine” that separates the country. (that is how a Trini would describe the Panama Canal … yeah seriously)

One of my first recommendations when you get to Panama, is to find a car rental agency. Like other Central American countries, public transport while available, is never on time, difficult to navigate if you’re not a local or don’t speak Spanish and packed to capacity.

My first marvel at the public transport was the presence of the Diablo Rojo. In Trinidad, early in the 90’s, we had the presence of the souped up “maxi-taxi”, which was a glorified mini van with 13 seats, 5234 speakers and could be heard from 2.647 miles away, when you weren’t trying to make out with some girl among 21 other people. Well the “Diablo Rojas” truly blows this away in terms of aesthetic appeal.It was easily one of my favorite and hated things about Panama. 

These buses are essentially tricked out American school buses.   They’re so colourful, tacky and ridiculous that it is tough not to love them, unless you’re a driver. Driving in Panama has one rule … like Fight Club, the first rule ois not to talk about it. Seriously … Panamanian are some of the ridiculously unskilled, insane drivers I’ve seen/experienced globally. As for those Red Devils, I have no idea how safe they are or how good the seating is, but on a Saturday night, there are a lot of girls drinking on those buses … so it might not be the worse place in the world for a traveller to be.

I’m pretty sure the Red Devils don’t have A/C and me being stuck on a bus without A/C is probably not a good idea for anybody involved, especially not when its 100 degrees outside.

As for the Canal, it is impressive as an engineering marvel and that is about it. Overall, we spent about 2 hours at the Panama Canal, I checked it off my list of things to see in the world, and I can move on. Really …  that is exactly how I feel about it.

I don’t think I can write anything about the Panama Canal that hasn’t been written already or describe in any other detail that would make it sound better or worse than it exactly is … if you have seen a lock system in the world work, this is no different except that you can go from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in a day.

Watching the boats go by is cool for about 10 mins and then you get bored. More interesting to me was the presence of enlarged features on signs in Panama.

For instance, if you have ever seen a bigger bum on a sign than the street signs in Panama, I must come to your country to photograph those signs.

I wonder what this sign represents?

or this sign?

Pretty much the collection of pictures summed up the experience of Panama. Questions?

[smugmug url=”http://www.rishisankar.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=13551017_dNHHA&format=rss200″ title=”Panama%20in%20Three%20days” imagecount=”10″ start=”1″ num=”10″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”smugmug” captions=”false” sort=”false” window=”true” smugmug=”true” size=”L”]

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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