I am in Panama City, Panama, spending my second night at the Country Inn & Suites right at the famous Panama Canal. The Bridge of the Americas is practically in the back yard of the hotel. It's a nice place to stay, if you're ever down this way. Great staff too. It's not for those party animals who are looking for active night life nearby, but it is ideal for anti-social fossils like me.
Tomorrow, it's off to points west. Not sure how far I will get, but it doesn't matter. Everything is so lush and beautiful here, it's a pleasure to look at the scenery and take it easy.
I thought that everyone in Panama City would speak English as well as Spanish. Not so. I asked directions several times when I arrived yesterday and while everyone I spoke to was very pleasant and tried to help, I was more confused afterwards than beforehand. I finally approached a group of young people chatting outside a store and they were a big help. Turned out that two women in the group work as translators in an international call centre here and their English is excellent. They both happened to be on holidays and were kind enough to take me on a tour of Panama City today. I'm sure I saw much more of the city with their help than I might have on my own.
If you are a timid driver, don't drive in Panama. No-one obeys any rules of the road. Stop signs, lane change and turn protocols are all ignored. When there is an opening in traffic, whoever moves first and has the strongest nerve wins. I love it. I haven't had this much fun driving since I drove at 170 kph on the Autobahn from Frankfurt to Cologne in Germany. That is as fast as my little rented car would go. Real cars passed me as if I was standing still, even at that speed.
I'm having a blast. Panama is a great place to visit. I like it.