Sunday, 19 July 2009

Tropical Storm

I got caught in one early this afternoon, sheltered beneath a Red Bull bar umbrella. The weather in Panama City hits you in the face as you leave the airport - the heat has a real humid weight to it (my glasses steamed up). I have never enjoyed cold showers as much as this.

The place is like Miami, from one angle, all brand new skyscrapers, Dunkin' Donuts and shopping malls with air con. But then, as you look the other way from my hostel balcony, you see the Casco Viejo. Crumbling colonial colour, "reminiscent of old Havana" as the guidebook (Bible?) says.

Somewhere in between, there's the main shopping street with its Caribbean colour (though I'm on the Pacific side). People whose ancestors came from Africa, from Europe, from Asia, from round these parts too. All colours stop to watch the Michael Jackson videos competing from adjacent TV stalls.

There's the canal, too. The ship I saw pass through with 50cm to spare. Somewhere, faint, the memory of thousands of dead French workers. And all the time the heat.

Tomorrow Cuba. We'll see about that old Havana comparison.

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