John Whiting's Panama Vist, Part II, Summer 2010

Mouseover thumbnail pictures for captions and click to enlarge


     Trip to Rodman


We drove over to Rodman, and had to go down a long, pot-holed road. In that area there are a lot of construction projects going on for the expansion of the canal. We're not sure, but it looks like they're going to tear everything down. There aren't many building left. But we did find the old chief's club, unfortunately in ruins. When we pulled up we didn't even know if we should go in. It looks like it was last used as a garage, there were large tires outside and some inside. We also saw where the old sign used to be. We drove further down the road and saw how big the construction project is ' there were trucks and cranes for as far as the eye could see.


     Trip to Howard



We returned another day to see Howard. This time (unlike when we went to Farfan) there was a guard at the gate. He didn't want to let us in because he said it was private property and we couldn't take any pictures. My daughter explained to him in Spanish that we had been there earlier in the week and the people at the Foundation would vouch for us. We also promised to not take any more pictures.

I read in a tourism magazine that this whole area is being developed into 'Panama Pacifico' with a town center that will include businesses, houses, apartments, shopping, etc. You can see all of the construction going on.

We drove in and passed Farfan. All of this area is now called Howard and there are streetlights with banners along the whole boulevard that says 'Panama Pacifico.' Before you get to what was Farfan there are nice subdivisions on the left hand side. Once we passed Farfan, we saw the new Industrial Park called Panama Pacifico that even has a Mailboxes, Etc. in it! They are in the process of building housing, shopping, etc. We also saw a huge Dell corporate headquarters for Latin America and a headquarters for Marsk (the shipping company). As we kept going we got to the clearing where the base used to be. On the right you can still see the parade grounds that look like they're now used to train police forces. This area now also houses the Panamanian Police Academy and they use the buildings for offices, classrooms and dormitories. On the right you can still see all the hangers and they look like they're still all in use. We didn't see any aircraft, but the airfields look in good shape. This most likely is for corporate uses. It also looks like they were in the middle of renovating some parts. When we kept driving all the way back to base housing we saw that all the houses looked deserted. But there was a security guard back there, and the buildings didn't look like they had been deserted for long. We think this area is going to be developed soon.





Albrook Airfield is now the domestic airport for Panama, and has flights out all over the country and can be used for private flights. There is also a huge mall there now (it has a merry-go-round inside it), and the main bus depot for the entire country.


Clayton (out by Miraflores) has now been turned into an international office park called 'City of Knowledge.' It now houses the offices of the Peace Corps, International Red Cross, United Nations, etc. You can still see all of the playing fields, and it looks like most of the original buildings are still there and still in use.


Summit - no mas.


K Street is still there, but people at the Peace Corps office STRONGLY advised us not to go there since it has been designated a 'Red Zone' for gangs and thefts. Avenida Central is closed off to traffic, but there are so many people and pick pockets that it's recommended not to go there.

We drove around Ancon looking for Gorgas Hospital but couldn't find it. However, Panamanians told us it's still there and still in use as a hospital. My daughter took me to an indigenous arts and crafts market that is located in the Old YMCA building at the bottom of Ancon Hill. My daughter told me that in Spanish they still call it 'El Viejo YMCA.' It looks like most of the buildings on Ancon are still there and most are being used by the Panamanian Canal Authority. The houses that were there are still very nice and inhabited.

There are high, high, HIGHRISES!!! Over 100 stories tall! This was the biggest shock. And a causeway that goes out over the bay, and a toll road that takes you across the bay and to Tocumen in less that 10 minutes. The entire city hasn't changed that much. I did have wifi in my hotel (though very slow) and I could buy Diet Coke (at least in the city ' and it's called Coke Light). Traffic is still horrible, and all taxis are painted bright yellow. There are millions of them! Rum Cortez is still bottom shelf and super cheap ($4.30 for a fifth). It still tastes good! I took some to my daughter's host family and shared a drink with the patriarch Sr. Montenegro.

One last note - there is now a NEW BRIDGE crossing the canal, call the Centennial Bridge. It's a cable-stayed bridge, 3450' long and pretty impressive. You get to it by the old Interamerican Highway and then it lets you off above Miraflores.



This trip would not have been possible without my daughter's excellent fluency in Spanish. She says that if anyone wants to organize a reunion, she would be more than happy to help.


TOP  |  BACK to Part One.   |  BACK to the NBAers' Playground