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Traffic in Panama

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Written by Keenan Lee   
Friday, 05 October 2007 08:23
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, view 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, drugstore downtown Panama City is beginning to top the cake.
The amount of vehicles gracing Panama City's roadways is getting more and more out of hand; a once-comical downfall now becoming a very real concern. Check out Calle 50 any time around mid-day to see what I mean. Try to navigate Avenida Balboa in the mornings before eleven, or through Punta Pacifica in the afternoon on your way home. The story is always the same: it takes forever to get where you're going.

Granted Panama City traffic is bad, but being an eternal optimist, I like to spend time in my car doing productive things like brushing my teeth or cutting my hair. There is no better time, for instance, to work on one's arias. And it was one day, that sitting locked in El Cangrejo, that I decided to call in to a radio show and happened to be the ninety ninth caller! Bam! Ninety nine bucks in my pocket!

But for those who don't enjoy traffic as much as I do, getting around Panama City can be a royal pain. I'm not going to give you the numbers of how much traffic has increased over the past few years in Panama, but I will leave you with the startling fact that everyone in Panama hates it. It's less about the distance of the commute (because the capital is a relatively small place), and more about the long-drawn-out process by which you go about trying to get to your destination. 

There are various plans in the works to ease this tension although who knows when any of them will come to fruition. And trying to present my own ideas to people in places of power is about as useless as frozen pork. "Here," I call to the men in suits as they exit their work for a lunch break. "Here are my drawings for one massive skateboard that takes everyone where they want to go." The men very rarely reply. "It's solar!" I shout. But alas, doing this is like preaching to a tone-deaf choir.

Traffic in Panama City is pretty bad and I usually recommend people take taxis instead of wasting their own gasoline or stressing out to find parking (which is also horrendous). Whatever you do, don't freak. It's one of the things you sign up for if you want to live here and honestly, when it comes to the third world, I could think of worse.

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Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 22:55