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Amador Causeway in Panama, Fun Again?

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Written by Matt   
Friday, 09 January 2009 06:41
Panama's Amador CausewayPanama's Amador Causeway, at first glance, appears to be the evidence of a serious miscalculation. It's as if an office was packed somewhere years ago with men in suits agreeing positively that this would be the entertainment and nightlife solution Panama had been looking for all along. Build strips of attractive restaurants and bars, open bike shops and a convention center, and voila they must have thought: there's no way it could not be a booming success. And it was, kind of. Panama's Causeway's nightlife scene thrived for a period of time. On the furthest island, theme bars that lined a terrace-like thoroughfare were packed on certain nights of the week, the waterfront benches and walkways buzzing with lovers and drunkards alike taking in the comforting Causeway breeze. Varying hotspots drew Panama's young, elite, and even middle class.

No one really knows what happened. Maybe people realized it was too far? Maybe the nightlife haunts lost their edge? Maybe everything got too expensive and too kitschy?

Frequent trips out there for the past few years had always baffled me: gorgeous views of islands and boats waiting to travel the Panama Canal, sparkling restaurants with reasonably priced menus, a Monte Carlo-like ballers area with yachts, outdoor venues, and view of a modern city skyline. What's not to like? Why is the Causeway not packed, all the time?

Settings like these would be eaten up virtually anywhere else in the world, yet for a handful of years, the Causeway and its businesses seem to have decompressed of optimism and hope. Turnover for business was high, prime real estate went unleased, and empty parking lots beckoned desperately as if to say, Wait. what the fuck? Where did everybody go?

Today's Causeway seems to be reinventing itself, kind of. Traffic lining the skinny palm tree strip is the busiest I've seen in years. In an odd display of what seems like the obvious, weekends see the Causeway's picturesque sidewalks busy with bikers, joggers, fishermen: everyone enjoying what's arguably the most serene outdoor waterfront setting in Panama City, as they very well should be. Views of the downtown Panama City skyline are still dramatic from many spots and parking is rarely, if ever, an issue.

New signs of progress on the Causeway include several rapidly developing real estate projects, an expansion of the already palatial convention center, the evolution of a bizarrely designed bio-diversity museum, and a "fun zone" in which new bars and clubs are opening on a monthly basis. There are even hypothetical plans for the reinstatement of a trolley system, stemming from Casco Viejo that would lead out to the Causeway.

In the meantime though, all the establishments seem to be smartly integrating that which makes Panama such an attractive draw: the weather. Incorporating the outdoors is something few of Panama's nightlife spots have figured out, instead favoring icebox-like temperatures inside. But with such great breezes and views, the Causeway is becoming the prime outdoor seating destination.

Boat trips for tours, fishing outings, and ferry rides are leaving with more frequency now: a great show of increased movement for the Causeway. As I talk about so much in Panama, there's really no way to know what the numbers are like on the Amador Causeway without personally investigating the accounting books of restaurant, bars, and tourism companies: but it's the feel about everything I've seen in the past few months, that stuff is starting to happen again. Restaurants feel more full, sidewalks feel more active, and large-scale projects feel like they're actually progressing. It's all great news for the Causeway and its businesses, and while whether or not it'll ever return to that short period of high-flying mad success still remains up in the air, signs of new leisure appear to be unfolding.


Comments (2)Add Comment
great place-but what do we do about trash?
written by Lamer , January 09, 2009
The Amador causeway is fascinating. I eat at the Bucaneros twice, yummy food for a fraction of what one is expected to pay in a similar spot anywhere in the "civilized" world. If it wasn't so hot during the day, I would have put an easel on the ground and paint all day what nature has painted already. But why, why are people still throwing trash in the water and why nobody up there can do anything about it? I must say this was by far the most frustrating thing for me when visiting Panama, especially in such developed areas. The most beautiful scenery next to the most horrific trash. Even on Taboga island -- what a jewel!-- there was a huge area of trash right there on the beach. The rain came suddently but I stood there stubbornly picking up my own trash and "storing" it in a bag for later...when I will find a trash can. There were no trash bins. I will give you the example of Romania where I used to live. They had more or less the same problem. It took a couple of years of sustained effort from mayors and media. Now, there are trash bins everywhere, a good garbage collecting system, informed people and... it's clean. It is not impossible and it doesn't take too long! Why not start a campaign, cleaning the water by the shore of the Amador causeway?
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Panamanians are dirty
written by Josue , January 13, 2009
Panamanians are dirty by nature, yes, its natural for them to throw trash anywhere without thinking about it. i'm panamanian, and it is the thing i hate the most about panamanians. could they be cleaner, of course, but it will take education and a concerted effort from city officials to turn this sad, lazy, and disgusting trait around.
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Last Updated on Friday, 09 January 2009 07:21