A lot of the fun of foreign travel is just looking at what is different and unusual. Very mind expanding and it completely changes a gringo’s perspective on the visited country.
Cell Phones – Cell phones have certainly changed the world. However, when in foreign countries that previously did not have the hard line infrastructure, cell phone sales and use are just amazing. It seems to me that about every third store in Panama City is a cell phone retailer. Cell phone advertising is all over the TV and on the billboards.
Gasoline Prices – I don’t think that Panama has any gas resources, thus it is imported. The price for 91 octane per gallon is $2.08, somewhat higher than in Washington when we left. Because of buying gas from Venezuela, Central America is creating quite a relationship with Venezuelan President Chavez.
Diablo Rojos – The recycled school buses, with all the bright paint, are called Diablo Rojos, the red devils. The government last year decided to phase out (?) these private entrepreneurs. Funding for 500 new air-conditioned comfortable buses, run by the government, was provided with the first 100 to arrive this spring. The issue has become a big political argument in the national election.
Miami Herald – Panama Edition - The major newspaper in Panama City is La Prensa (the Press). To keep the Anglo English speakers up with all the news that is fit to print, the Miami Herald is at all the news stands every day. It includes two pages at the end of the second section with local Panama news provided by La Prensa. For a newspaper addict like me this is a wonderful service and keeps me up with the world and Panama. The Miami Herald costs 75 cents.
Lottery Ticket Private Enterprise – Worldwide everyone wants to hit it rich. Here in Panama lottery tickets are sold all over the place, mostly by private vendors sitting at tables in front of supermarkets. They have a lot of books of tickets laid out and which the purchasers pour over looking for, I assume their lucky numbers. You also see vendors in street intersections, with strings of tickets, selling to drivers on their way to some destination. I have not yet figured out how to determine if you have won!