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Chitre, Azuero Peninsula, Panama

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Written by Matt   
Monday, 05 February 2007 11:18
Chitre is anomalistic. Its large, decease bustling town square, modern grocery stores, and bevy of restaurants and hotels are perhaps more urbanized than any other pueblo in rural Panama. This capital of the Herrera province is vibrant with an odd farmer-meets-city charm, and its maze-like streets will swallow you whole if you don't know where you're going. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a cosmopolitan place. Known mainly as the agricultural processing center for the expansive Azuero Peninsula, Chitre is a small town with a big town feel. Population about 150,000 (estimated by The Panama Report, February 2007). It is a good stopping point whether you're venturing into the peninsula or coming out. The center of Chitre is a large beautiful church which spans one square city block, then sprinkled around the church, throughout the town, are small open parks—the perfect spot for an afternoon juice box if you like them.

The streets at night are alive. Open shacks reveal blazing barbeques and heaps of fresh vegetables and produce. The breezy temperature is designed for quiet walks or an examination into the nightlife scene which is probably the best in the region. Semi-trendy hangouts, the names of which escape me, act as magnet destinations for young people the peninsula-over looking to rage like a warrior bobcat. There are also small cantina-style joints, usually settled by inebriated locals who'll talk your ear off if you give them the time. These kinds of unfussy saloons, while totally casual and unpretentious, will serve you a beer for fitty sints.

If it's extreme drinking you're into, check out Chitre during mid-February for Carnaval when the cute and innocent streets turn frat-tastic for a few days when you can buy beers, grain-alcohol, and juice boxes on just about every street corner. Hotel reservations are hard to come by during festivals though so plan accordingly. Other times of the year, Barcelo Guyacanes is a decent all-inclusive hotel directly adjacent to the Fiesta Casino with pool, spa, and mini-fridge big enough to hold like thirty juice boxes. For a cheaper dig, try Hotel Hong Kong or Pension Central and if it's still less expensive you need, check into Hotel Hawaii. If those're all too expensive for you, try building a room out of duck tape and cardboard.

Chitre's airport originally acted as the hub for those traveling to Pedasi, about one and a half hours away, where you'll find world-class fishing and water sports. Another fun daytrip is to the Cerro Hoya national park where you can shoot parrots and monkeys and deer. (note: The Panama Report suggest you do your shooting with a digital camera, not a gun.) The coast leading from Chitre to Punta Mala has some of the most spectacular beaches in the entire country but you'll need an SUV to get to the really secret ones. It is my belief that when you stumble upon a secret beach, whether or not other people have been there before, you are entitled to name it.

On your way out of town, you'll find Panama's version of Target, called Super 99, where you can pick up juice boxes for no more than the cost of a gumball. Cell phone signal here is very strong for both Cable & Wireless and Moviestar. Banks in Chitre are ubiquitous. Credit cards accepted widely and internet cafes seem to be on every corner.

Chitre is really a pretty neat city. It's a total change from the bucolic towns that surround, my favorite place to catch a movie or do some shopping. The handicrafts are intricate and cute—a good, cheap gift to bring back for those annoying people who make you bring them a present from your travels, as if they're doing you a favor by not coming with. You won't find a whole lot of Americans in Chitre, except for transplants and the few who have accidentally veered off course. The people are beautiful. The streets are safe and relatively clean. And the juice boxes are delicious.
Comments (1)Add Comment
A great article for a great place to live and invest for the future.
written by Javier (Real Estate in Azuero) , November 12, 2011
Hi Matt,

Great writing as usual. I just wanted to mention the Cubita Panama, the luxury residential, Hotel and Commercial development that Chitre has been waiting for... We are offering a free golf membership at the local 9 hole golf course and $1000 for referrals for the project until Dec 31st 2011. Contact us now
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Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 22:13