The other side of the Panama Canal

A couple of weekends ago we went on a trip to Colón (Spanish for Columbus) on the Carribbean/ Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. We had heard a lot about this ‘wild west’ style town and were curious to see it for ourselves. What we found was a place with a certain air of faded grandeur, a bit like I imagine New Orleans to be. It really was pretty shabby though, and it made me wonder how two places so close to each other geographically speaking could be poles apart in all other respects.

Moving from anywhere Westernised to Panama City is a pretty easy transition as the shops, roads, most of the schools and cars are all very Americanised. For example I can think of five enormous malls here just off the top of my head – there are probably more! There are certainly large areas of poverty in Panamá City but travel to Colón and these areas are definitely the most noticeable.

We saw several people dressed very smartly for church, as well as more than a few shady characters. I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I rarely take pictures of them. It makes me feel too much the privileged honky on a poverty tour. Not a comfortable thought, but probably one containing an element of truth.

Most of the guidebooks warn against getting out of your car in Colón as you are very likely to be mugged apparently. We certainly felt that there was a palpable air of menace and, as we had our three small children with us, we took this advice and stayed in the car.


3 thoughts on “The other side of the Panama Canal

  1. colon is where my husband is right now.. I just spent 6 days there.. thankfully outside of colon is San Lorenzo, Portabello and Isla Grande, the Canal area.. they at least make you feel better about colon as a whole.. plus the people of colon.. sweet as pie!!! (most of them)..

    1. Hi Stacey, well maybe next time we’ll get out of the car and have a walk around then! I certainly liked it there, and we are going to visit Portobelo soon – I’ve heard there are some nice beaches around that area. xx

      1. Portobello is a lovely drive.. and just stunning views.. the church of the black christ is very beautiful, but be aware it is in a ‘tougher’ part of town.. just really poor and the kids beg for $$.. that is hard on a mommy’s heart…. if you go to portobello just about 6 km out of town toward Isla Grande there is a resturant Don Quijote is the name.. good food and lovely views.. actually spectacular views!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s