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Panama’s Aspiration to be the ‘Dubai of Latin America’

Modern skyline of Panama City

Financial wealth poured into Panama over the last two decades, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the Western Hemisphere. Current president Ricardo Martinelli has earned mixed reviews in his vision to create the “Dubai of Latin America,” but there is no doubting the freshness of the modern, cosmopolitan feel in Panama’s capital.

On the offshoots of Via Argentina you’ll find open-air pubs, live classical guitar courtyard cafes, and a nice lineup of boutique shops — all typical for a city, yes, except they’re exceptionally lively here. Backed by the game-changing $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, most economists agree the growth is more than sufficiently supported.

Abundance shows itself in many forms, though, and perhaps more appealing to the indie traveler is the abundance of places to experience. Beyond the cosmopolitan lights along the Bahia de Panama are microclimates and distinct cultures, ranging from remote tracts of uninhibited jungle in the Darien to checkerboard agriculture hillsides in the highlands. Infrastructure is also abundant here, in a big way. You’ll probably feel more apt to hit the road on a whim than you would in other countries in the region…and you should.

Chiriqui

Blend all the best elements of Central America into one quiet little region, then add the Parque Internacional de La Amistad — that’s the draw. The local Chiricanos themselves are enough of a reason to come. For the friendly visitor passing through, there always seems to be an open room and a warm meal.

Boquete is the flagship of the region, and has received its fair share of press (and growth) in recent years. The bajareque is a thin mist that falls regularly from clouds smattering the top of Volcan Baru and other mountains that rim the valley. If you’re lucky enough to run into Olga at some punto de encuentro, she’ll most likely be able to point out the first quintuple rainbow you’ve ever seen.

While the traditional warmup is the Sendero de Los Quetzales, the hiking possibilities in this region are mind blowing. And if you surf, well then, you have to figure it out for yourself — a map and a boat and a south swell will suffice…

Read more: Matador Network

 

 

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