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Panama day 1 – Carnival in Panama

Posted by on June 7, 2011

Flag of Panama

As I stated before that the first location of this long trip was Panama City, Panama. I have traveled to South America before but one time, I had to spend over 8-9 hours in the airport in San Salvador, El Salvador, en-route to South America something I did NOT want to do again. Sitting around with your finger up your ass is not a fun thing at all. So the plan was to avoid such a thing again and to spend a few days relaxing in Panama since it’s a big airport hub for all of Central and South America, all before I travel down to Ecuador. So what is there to do in Panama? Well, at first, I didn’t know but all I knew was that I was going to do some tourist stuff at least.

Yeah, I know, I know. I also do the tourist thing of going around and doing the touristy stuff of just walking and gawking around like well, a dumb tourist. I can’t do physical activities all the time that I love doing such as scuba diving, fishing, and hunting because otherwise I will get burned out. I was going to wait to do stuff like that later on the trip. So the idea in Panama was on that first day was to go exploring. Well, that didn’t take too long as I didn’t know that when I booked my trip to Panama that I would be there during Carnival, a well-known party that lasts for days and generally more famously known in Brazil. I heard about the big parties in Brazil but in Panama? Really? I never knew. But since it was held a few blocks away from my hotel room, I might as well go and check it out. A lady on the same taxi with me from the airport explained that it was like a party from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, and possibly even more than that.

Street view of Carnival in Panama City

Street view of Carnival

The setting was on this road that appeared to be used as an avenue for major traffic but was shut down for this grand party. It was supposed to be run for 4 days and security was high all over the area ensuring that no drug dealers or criminals or thieves would be prowling the area so all types of people could enjoy the festival. Police actually check out IDs and do pat-downs on both men and women. I didn’t have anything but a copy of my passport which I explained to the police in Spanish that I was an American tourist and that it was my first time in Panama. They accepted my story and let me in. After getting in, gosh, there were lots of people. There were all sorts of people: young and old, pedestrians, vendors, kids, grandparents, some foreigners, dancers, people in costumes, etc. Yup, it was a street party alright.

street view of Carnival in Panama City; Panamian beer

Plenty of beer for now... until nightfall.

street view of Carnival in Panama City

Live music, all the time at Carnival and no, the building is not bent, that's just way the camera took the picture as a fishbowl.

There weren’t a lot of people there because it was during the day and early in the week but I happened to go by it during the night and holy crap. It’s a huge drastic change. You know that saying “it’s like night and day?” Yep, it was like that – night and day. It was just too many people wanting to go in and at that point I decided not to go in as I felt like things could really go out of control and I could lose more than my valuables. So I didn’t go back in. Maybe if I knew some people to form a protective group should things go bad, then maybe it would be possible. But to go in there naked would be a bad thing too. So I’m in pinch no matter what. But like I said in the beginning I never knew that Carnival was going on in the first place and I didn’t go to Panama for that. I’ve heard from other hotel occupants that the party gets even crazier in very late hours of the night. Well, not for me anyways since I was too tired from the plane trip. But it was a good starting point of just looking around and seeing what was around the area especially finding out that one of the worst neighborhoods of Panama City was only a few blocks away.

street view of Carnival in Panama City; street vendor

Hungry? There were plenty of street vendors at Carnival.

I know I was hungry... sausage on a stick.