Back to Panama

I thought it was going to be a trip down memory lane, a nostalgic return to the city of my birth. But to say Panama City has changed in the five decades since my last visit would be something of an understatement. The dynamic, highly populated, traffic-filled, skyscrapered modern Panama City of today is virtually unrecognizable to someone whose memories are fixed in an earlier era.  Some vestiges of the past do remain: the colorful old city, casca viejo, now starting to be reborn with shops and restaurants, and the former American-held Canal Zone, which still hints ever so faintly at its colonial past. And of course there is the canal itself, the amazing engineering and construction feat that took decades to complete and changed the world. Today the canal is managed by the Panamanians and functions impressively at full capacity all day, every day. The Panama City of memory may be gone, but the new version is well worth exploring.