Active, Single, and Happy in This Tropical City…
I set up my tripod in a sunny patch between two trees, excited to capture this gorgeous day on my smartphone camera. There’s lush foliage all around me…old-growth trees, flowering shrubs, a variety of grasses in a variety of colors.
The sky is an intense cornflower blue, and there’s a faint scent of frangipani in the air. Overhead, a speckled hawk glides on invisible currents. I often see marine birds here, as well—the ocean’s less than a mile away, and the air is heavy with its moisture.
It’s the best sort of day in the tropics…but I’m not on some remote island or in a sleepy beach town. I’m in Panama City, a busy, cosmopolitan capital that just happens to be blessed with bay views and lush rainforest, all within the city limits.
On beautiful afternoons like this, it’s practically a crime to stay indoors (even if we do wake up to sunshine most every day of the year). And since I write and speak about Panama for a living, it’s basically my job to get out there and enjoy myself.
After all, I wouldn’t want to run out of experiences to write about. Not to mention photos and video footage for social media, webinars, and more.
I’ve always got plenty of excuses to leave the office. And, thankfully, I’ve also got any number of backdrops to choose from. Today I’ve chosen Parque Omar, one of the city’s most popular parks. Over 130 acres in size, it’s filled with walkways and recreation areas, so I never have any trouble finding a quiet spot.
The banking district’s sparkling skyline is another favorite, especially after dark. I often photograph it from the bayside promenade known as the Cinta Costera, a great place for an evening walk. I also spend a lot of time in Casco Viejo. Known for colonial plazas built centuries ago, Casco is also home to some of the city’s best nightlife.
If I fancy a nature walk, I can head for the summit of verdant Ancon Hill. Other photogenic sites include the Panama Canal Administration Building, the outlandish Bridge of Life biomuseum, the ruins at Panama La Vieja, and the list goes on. Life here is anything but monotonous.
Everywhere I go I encounter friendly people. If I’m taking a photo, they’ll typically wait till I’ve gotten my shot before walking by. If I fall—call it pandemic madness, I’ve taken up roller-skating and skateboarding—people rush over and help me up. (I fall down a lot, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to witness the kindness of strangers.)
More importantly, I feel perfectly comfortable taking the metro and walking around with my laptop and any other equipment I decide to bring along. After filming a quick video on the Cinta Costera, I’ll often bundle everything into a backpack and walk into Casco Viejo for dinner. If it gets late, I can take an Uber…just a few dollars for a safe ride home.
As a single woman, I can’t imagine a better lifestyle. I am free to roam about, getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. I don’t even feel self-conscious about filming videos that require me to stand alone in the park and jabber at myself in English.
After all, this is a bustling international city. Though the official language is Spanish, I tend to hear English, French, Chinese, and other languages—even at the park. No one bats an eyelash.
And with each photo or video shoot, I get to stop, study the scene before me, and fall in love with Panama all over again.
By Jessica Ramesch