Panama wants us to think of it as more than a feat of engineering; more than a continental bridge; more than headquarters for summer hats. This is why I am here. I want to check out its highlands and some of the animals and birds that you have to sneak around quietly to see.
Just a few miles from the gleaming but largely uninhabited white towers of modern Panama City's skyline, it's a small area of crumbling but glorious architecture some of which dates back to the 17th century.
Travel's imperfections - whether brought on by your own hand or another's - open the door for serendipitous surprises and unexpected adventures. These chance occurrences have always led to my favorite and most memorable experiences.
I was completely wrong about Panama. I was wrong to think I could sum up everything this country has to offer in only a week. I honestly left feeling a bit teased by my experience. There is SO much to do here and so much more ground to cover.
On the advice of a Panamanian friend, I decided to book myself into a hotel in the Casco Viejo, also known as San Felipe or the Casco Antiguo. The Casco Viejo is the Old City of Panama and it is the city's heart and soul.