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Los Cuatro Tulipanes is Matt's apartment rentals in the historic district of Casco Viejo

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Republic of Panama

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if things in Panama happen only to me or if they happen to other people.  I’m almost 28 now and I’m still as fascinated with Panama as I was when I first visited at 23, albeit for totally new and different reasons. I never thought this would happen. I assumed my interest in Panama would fade like every other obsession I’ve ever had and every now and then, this does seem to happen: I’ll let something piss me off enough, then board a plane out of Tocumen muttering derogatory words as we take off, swearing never to return again. But curiously, there’s always a recurring urge to get back and I want to understand why I feel this way.

Most of my time here has been spent subconsciously analyzing whether Panama is real or not and then trying to write about it. It wasn’t something I ever specifically asked myself out loud or anyone else for that matter. I never held round-table discussions on the touristic merits of Kuna Yala or solicited views on the financial impact of expanding the Canal. I just never got that technical or formal. I guess you could say I’m just lazy, or indifferent, or both.

The pool this morning was full of dead beetles, so many that you couldn’t do a lap without feeling their papery bodies coat the inside of your arms. It sounds almost horror movie-like but in reality was more unusual than it was harmful, and when I asked the woman at the counter who was in charge of cleaning the pool, she pointed to the locker rooms and said, “Esteban.”
Two historic neighborhoods in the Republic of Panama are in danger of losing their status of World Heritage Site as recognized by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Paired together, the ruins of Panama Viejo as well as the historic district of Casco Antiguo will be the subject of a visit this month from UNESCO representatives who will seek resolution to various hazards expressed on a visit last year to determine Panama's future as world heritage hosts.According to UNESCO on their last evaluative trip to Panama, there existed several important threats to the sanctity of Panama Viejo and Casco Antiguo. Those threats included, but were not limited to, severe deterioration of historic buildings, conflicting interests with regards to conservation, deficiencies in legal framework, demolitions of urban buildings, as well as forced displacement of occupants and squatters. The report also revealed that, "inappropriate interventions were undertaken at some historic buildings" and cited the extensive interventions at the Hotel Central having "significantly affected an emblematic building."
They're building a Hard Rock Hotel on a beachfront parcel not far from Panama City. The land and the trees are real, and so is the Hard Rock. It is a real hotel with real bathrooms and real hamburgers served on real plates. But it is amidst realities like these, amidst projects like the world's second biggest pool or the third tallest casino, that is surfacing a very unreal aspect of Panamanian growth and progress that, for me, at one point in time, bordered on a taboo level of sterility. Panama would just be better without the bells and whistles, I used to think. Why is Panama developing like this?  
Panama Something It's NotOne often finds himself, in explaining what makes Panama unique, using the concept of absence as a selling point or at least a complimentary factor. "There are no mega highways," you might say or "its beautiful beaches have no tourists." Because it's a relatively new to the popularity curve, much of Panama's charm has been based, with no other way to put this, in its shortcomings; a destination fueled by that raw and incomplete allure that makes one feel, whether legitimately or not, like they've accidentally stumbled on the greatest travel secret in the modern world. 
Panama SEductionOn the back end of my first trip to Panama years ago, I settled on two main conclusions. The first was that the country was inconsistent (in a great way) with what I thought I knew to be Central America. Here was a capital with surprising hints of sophistication and an interior connected by clean pavement and fence-lined storybook towns. Its strips of unaffected coast, indigenous populations, and supreme trade sector were anomalies to me for the region: characteristics that alone may not have been so remarkable, but when clumped together evoked the happening of aligned stars. 
Panama Kent DavisThe following Panama report comes from Kent Davis, author of the investor's expose Blood On The Streets, everything that's wrong with Panama real estate agents and why I'm one of them, which has received great praise on this website from its readers. We don't generally post articles written by those in the Panama sales industry for fear of bias, but this is another level-headed accurate piece from Kent who's one of the more stand-up professionals we know. In the face of widespread doubt about the Republic, Kent explains using four dead-on reasons that are hard to argue, why Panama is still an incredible haven to him.
Panama electionsWhile it's not something I'd ever do in the United States, I regularly find myself in Panama asking people who they're going to vote for and why. Taxi drivers, next door neighbors, fellow elevator associates: everyone is fair game to my little survey though I don't know why I'm not embarrassed to ask such a prodding question. Perhaps I take defense behind the obvious cushion that is a language barrier in the rare case that anyone gets offended. "Oh, that's not what I meant to say," I might clarify, then changing the subject as fast as possible. "Did you know the average human eats eight spiders in their lifetime?"
Naming in PanamaSounds and syllables in Panamanian names vary slightly from those which I learned in school, making it hard for locals to pronounce correctly my name. But through the process of learning Spanish, most notably in a foreign country, names just have a way of rolling of your tongue.
“All my life, I've been like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part II, ordering up death over the phone, or with a nod or a glance. Every time I order meat off a menu, something dies. What arrives, however, is not the bleeding, still-warm body of my victim, eyes open, giving me an accusatory look. It is only fair that I find out what we're all talking about. I want to learn—really learn—where food actually comes from.”
My childhood on the continent of North America pales in comparison to that of my Panamanian counterparts. It was this youth of relatively little adventure that eventually landed me on the isthmus of Panama; my eyes wide open and my mouth gaped in envy.
I've spent time wedged in downtown Manhattan gridlock. I've crawled languidly along the Pacific Coast Highway during rush hour and sat bumper to bumper in the heavily polluted streets of Moscow. I've been idle, curled up in a tuk-tuk at a foggy London intersection and stopped motionless in what roughly equated to morning gondola gridlock in Brugge. But of all my traffic experience, downtown Panama City is beginning to top the cake.

The low season in Panama appears to have taken on new meaning, as almost every other day a new group gets depressed and goes on strike. They’ll block the streets and stop up traffic wearing ragtag uniforms and waving large flags as if to say, my protest is worse than yours.

Every now and then I like to take a step back and examine the curious joke that is my existence in a foreign country. I like to remove myself from whatever hustle and bustle happens to be plaguing my week or my month, to sum up what it's really like living as a young expat in Panama.
Besides diplomats, history buffs, and Panamanians, not many people know what the Torrijos-Carter Treaties are and what they stand for. Excluding the Panamanian Declaration of Independence in 1903, the Torrijos-Carter Treaty is probably the most important document the Panamanian people ever signed. The Torrijos-Carter Treaty is actually made up of two treaties. The first one is called The Treaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal or otherwise known as the Neutrality Treaty. The other is called the Panama Canal Treaty.
The Panamanian economy is a champion of sorts. Unlike other economies that rise and fall and stay down, the Panamanian economy has triumphantly recuperated after stumbling into numerous deep troughs. This ability to stabilize after economic recession is due to the industriousness of Panama's people and its strategic location as an isthmus separating two oceans. In the last 400 hundred years, service related industries tied to transport have always been the most dominant sector of the economy.
The 1000 days war was a conflict critical to the creation of Panama. If there was no war, Panama would not exist. The war lasted from 1899 and 1902 and was fought between two of the major political parties in Colombia. The factions involved were the political parties Liberal and Conservative. The Conservatives had been in control of Colombia for over 80 years, but the Liberals were eager for their share in the control of Colombia. Note that when we say Colombia in this story we are really referring to Panama, which was just a Colombian territory at that point in time.
Berthold Seemann was an explorer and naturalist who traveled to the isthmus of Panama in 1849 to take samples of the region's flora and fauna for further study. Along his journey he used a journal to record what he encountered in Panamanian towns in the mid-19th century. The accounts he left behind proved to be an invaluable resource to both amateur and professional historians alike who seek to learn more about the Panama of yesteryear. When this intrepid explorer came to Panama, it was under the jurisdiction of New Granada and had a total population of around 130,000. Many of the observations Seemann made about Panama still hold true today over one hundred and fifty years later.
In the summer and fall of 1989 the United States had their eyes fixated on the events in eastern Europe which brought an end to the Cold War. At the same time a storm of a different kind was brewing in Panama. Manual Noriega, the dictator who ran the country with his Panama Defense Force was getting out of control and getting wilder by the day. Through his cronies, he had a complete monopoly over the country and had extensive networks within the Medallin drug cartel. As early as 1987 the U.S. Senate asked for the resignation of Manual Noriega, but he didn´t listen. Things got from bad to worse on December 15, 1989 when the National Assembly of Panama declared that a state of war existed between the U.S. and Panama. Service members were harassed and an unarmed marine Lieutenant was killed and his buddy was beaten.

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