Panama and the Music of the Heart

 

Music unites all Panamanians as an integral part of our culture of happiness.   Our country is a bridge where our local Indigenous groups along with Spaniards, French, Afro-descendants, Zonians among others play an import role in building our cultural identity.

 

 

Panama has its own distinct sounds and the musical influence of our local indigenous population can still be felt today throughout the country.   La Saloma (local campesino yodeling), Mejorana (a five-stringeg guitar), tambores (wooden drums) and accordion are popular in the traditional folk music and are getting more popular amongst the new generation of local musicians that want go back to the roots by mixing folk and traditional with modern sounds.

Panama also boasts a vibrant history of calypso and mento music sung by nationally well-known musicians such as Lord Panama, Delicious, Two-Gun Smokey, Lady Trixie, Lord Kitty, and Lord Cobra.  Also Reggaeton is well known in Panama with the famous artists:  Nando Boom, Kafu Banton and El General.

Festivals such as the Annual Jazz Festival, Macro Fest and others are inspirations for local talents to create new and innovative music by mixing the sounds of Panama.  Come and discover the amazing sounds of Panama that reflect the country’s unique diversity.

Sandra and Samy Sandoval and Ulpiano Vergara for típico interiorano (Local typical music).

A generation of Panamanian rockers are: Los Rabanes, Señor Loop, Carlos Mendez, Los Miserables and Llevarte a Marte among others.

And the most international Panamanian musicians:  Ruben Blades a salsa solo musician and Danilo Perez a pianist and jazz star.

 

Cruising the Panama Canal

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

The way to the dock itself already hosts one of the city‘s panoramic highlights: the Causeway, a road which is literally on the ocean, surrounded by water on both sides. Locals as well as tourists come here for jogging, biking or taking a walk while enjoying the stunning view of the skyline.

After a short bus ride leading through traditional canal villages and dense jungle forests you finally get to see what is considered one of mankind’s greatest ingenieuric feeds: the Panama Canal.

Starting with a nice and calm river cruise through canal landscapes, our little ship eventually reached the first lock. I heard in advance that ships are risen up to a total of 26 meters above sea level to cross the Gatun lake, but I just could not believe my eyes when I saw the sudden end of water behind the lock, making it look like our boat was on the edge of a cliff. I could not believe how incredibly high our vessel was, compared to the water level after the lock where we were about to go. And every year, 14.000 ships of several tons are lifted up and down this height, just by gravity! The technology behind this is amazingly simple, I actually could have thought of it myself, with a river dam-building experience of several years as a child. However, this simple technique is efficiently working like this since 100 years already, making the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of modern world. Together with two other passenger ships and a huge mountain of cargo ship transporting 6000 cars, we were slowly sinking down, making testimony of this amazing technology and the incredible force of human kind.

Ending this epic cruise, reaching the Pacific Ocean, you enter a scene where cargo ships are peacefully resting in the bay at dawn, surrounded by gulls fishing for their dinner in front of the Skyline.

Art Galleries in Panama

The art scene in Panama is growing and fascinating.  As a bridge between two continents, Panama is one of the most diverse cities in Central America with a strong influence on the Afro-Caribbean, European and indigenous cultures.  There is a new generation of proud Panamanian artists creating unique pieces.    Kantule, Sebastian Icaza, Isabel De Obaldia, Donna Conlon, Jonathan Harker, Pilar Moreno  are some names that are building the Panama art scene.
There are some interesting art galleries that are a testimony to Panama’s art and cultural legacy.    We suggest to explore the city or book an art tour with us that will take you to the most interesting art galleries in the City.

An Art Tour in Panama City

DGriss Art Gallery
Location: Torres de las Americas, Punta Pacifica. Telephone: 201-5550 – 
Owned by Daniela and Pablo Griss, this art gallery displays art by Pablo Griss himself, and other artists all over the world. It´s main focus is contemporary art.

DiabloRosso
Location: Avenida A con Calle 6, Casco Antiguo. Telephone: 262-1957 –
A gallery that has a showroom, a restaurant-café, and a concept store. It has several art exhibitions during the year. They focus on promoting and supporting young local talent, future artists.

Weil Art Gallery
Location: Calle 48, Bella Vista.    Telephone: 264-9697 –
This art gallery owned by Carlos Weil, is the only art auction house in Panama. It has art from international crafts, as well as Panamanian 21st art such as handcrafted art, paintings and even sculptures.

Galeria Arteconsult
Location: Calle 72, No.34, San Francisco.    Telephone: 302-2646 – 
Offering Panamanian and Latin American art, we have this permanent high caliber showroom, which displays a diversity of art. From paintings to photographs.

Mateo Sariel Garcias
Location: Coco del Mar, Calle 79, Casa No.14.   Telephone: 270-2403 – 
Based on promoting contemporary Latin American art and introducing new artists such as Sebastian Icaza and his beautiful glass art.

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
Location: Avenida de los Martires, Calle San Blas, Ancon. Telephone: 262-8012 – 
Concerned on collecting and conserving Panamanian art, as well as Latin American art, is this privately owned art gallery. Not only serves as an art gallery, but also as a library which hopes to promote the history and art of Latin America and Panama.

Marion Gallery
Location: Calle 70, San Francisco. Telephone: 226-7190 – 
Promotes new contemporary art by renowned International artists. It´s most distinguish or permanent exhibition is dedicated to Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, because of his unique optical kinetic art.

Allegro Galeria
Location: Calle 73, Bella Vista. Telephone: 226-6967 – 
Beginning with the art work of Olga Sinclair, and other renowned Panamanian artists, this gallery has developed a reputation over the years by continuing to support and promote work of local and international artists.

Galeria Habitante
Location: Marbella. Telephone: 264-6470/223-8869 – 
One of the oldest galleries in Panama, maintains their status by renewing, and extending their art gallery by collecting from young and old artists.

Galeria 18
Location: Ave. Samuel Lewis, P.H Plaza Diamond a lado de Porta Romana. Telephone: 203-5589 – 
Contemporary Fine Art Gallery

Huellas Casa Cultural
Location: Calle 63, Casa 66, San Francisco – 
It´s not an art gallery, but they have different activities during the year, which promotes team building as well as creativity in a fun environment.

More about Zika in Panama

Zika virus infection is an emerging infection now widespread through much of Latin America.  There is a strong potential that this infection will continue to spread.  A Zika infection spreads through mosquito bites and is typically manifested as a mild flu-like illness, fever, a rash, conjunctivitis, and joint pains but most cases are “silent”, meaning that the infected person feels no symptoms at all.  Health authorities such as the U.S. Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization harbor serious concerns that an infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects in new borns whose mothers may have been infected with the Zika virus.  The latest list of all the countries covered by the CDC Travel Alert Level 2 can be found here: CDC Travel Health Information. 

The Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) has confirmed 50 Zika cases.  To date, the outbreak has been confined to the Guna Yala province.  MINSA Department of Epidemiology is working with the Gorgas Memorial Institute to control mosquitos in the affected areas.  Gorgas provides the testing facilities for Zika.  The latest notices from MINSA can be found here.

For the latest and more in-depth information, please also see the following: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika Virus

Pan American Health Organization Zika Virus

Best Diving and Snorkeling Spots in Panama

From: Dive Advisor

Panama was named after an indigenous word meaning, “abundance of fish.” This beautiful Central America paradise is one of the few places in the world where you can dive two oceans in one day. With the warm, tropical waters of the Caribbean on its east and the cooler waters of the Pacific on the west, it’s just a two-hour car ride between them in some places. Panama boasts 1,207km of Caribbean coast and 1,700km of Pacific coast.

On the Caribbean side, divers come for the abundance of colorful reef fish and corals. When rating the best diving in Central American, Bocas del Toro always comes up with its white sand beaches and many calm and the Bastimentos Marine National park. It’s a great place to learn how to dive and the marine life make it a great place to keep diving. Another popular spot on the Caribbean coast is Colon, only two hours from Panama City. Just offshore, the Portobelo National Marine Park has beautiful corals and the area is filled with a history of pirate battles and sunken ships.  Sir Francis Drake died at sea in 1596 and his body, clad in a full suit of armour and in a lead coffin, is thought to be off the coast of Portobello.

On the Pacific side, cooler waters and currents make encounters with pelagic common. Lucky divers can see several species of shark, whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, and more. Coiba National Marine Park is often referred to as the Galapagos of Central America and has the second largest coral reef in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Pearl Archipelago also offers great options close to Panama City.

Just nine degrees north of the equator, Panama is hot and humid year round. The rainy season is May- November and the dry season is December-April (with less humidity and almost no rain.) Panama is not in the hurricane belt, but it can get strong winds from nearby storms. Air temperatures throughout the year range form 20-32C, being a bit cooler in the winter/dry season. Water temperatures vary between coasts. The Caribbean side the water can be as cool as 25C in the winter and as warm as 28C in the summer. Coiba can get as cold as 20C during winter and reaches a high of around 24C in the summer.

Best Spots to Dive in Panama

Coiba National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 38 islands. Lonely Planet says it’s “The best diving to be found along the Pacific Coast from Columbia to Mexico.” Coiba gets the big stuff. Sharks can be seen on almost every dive including white-tip reef sharks, black-tip reef sharks, and occasional hammerheads, bull, and tiger sharks. Whale sharks are common visitors from December to April. Humpback whales are seen July through October and orcas and pilot whales frequent the area. Large schools of mantas and mobula rays sometimes swim by, and most dives have turtles, schools of large fish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and dolphins.

On the Caribbean side of Panama, close to the Costa Rica boarder, is Bocas del Toro. This archipelago of nine large islands includes the protected area of Isla Bastimentos National Marine. Bocas is known for its well-preserved hard and soft corals. Being outside of the official hurricane zone, away from large cities and river mouths, the coral is very healthy. It is estimated that 95% of the coral species found in the Caribbean Sea can be found within the archipelago.

Tiger Rock is rated one of the best dive sites around Bocas del Toro, and is three rock pinnacles that rise up from the sea floor at 40m. It’s an advanced dive and can have strong currents, but is a good place to see sharks, rays, large fish schools, whale sharks and dolphins. Its location requires perfect sea conditions for boats to be able to get there. Dolphin Rock is another offshore rock formation where sharks can be seen and has lots of colorful fish life. The diving is also very good around Zapatillas Cays, another more distant boat ride.

Closer to town, Bouy Line is a poplar shallow site (near a deep water channel buoy) that has sea horses, lionfish, crabs, and lots of morays. Hospital Point is near the north end of Isla Solarte and has healthy cauliflower and brain corals on a sloping wall. The dive usually has a slow current and is 15m deep max. Sashek is another drift dive between Bastimentos and Carenero that has rare long lure frogfish. Airport is a protected site good for training dives, and has lots of coral.

Also on the Caribbean side, but further southeast is Portobelo National Park. This is also a popular diving area with great marine life. Being closer to Panama City, people come directly from the city to dive this area that has great reef dives and several wrecks.

Water temperatures on the Caribbean side are warm year round (23-27C) and a 3mm is usually plenty. On the Pacific side, colder currents bring waters (15-23C), so a 5mm will be comfortable. For those doing deep dives in the winter, thermoclines can be present, so a 7mm might be useful.

If you are looking for good snorkelling one of the best spots is the San Blas Archipelago.  In this Guna land is forbidden to dive with a tank but here you will find one of the most untouched coral reefs by mankind. The reef holds its beauty for decades now since people do not pollute the waters around it.  The Kuna Indians or Guna indians live from the sea and hunt on it. They hunt the reefs and sandbanks by using simple snorkeling gear and do not over fish their own waters because they only take what is needed to stay alive. They are scared that scuba dives will kill the great schools of fish and leave the Kuna without food to survive. They will preserve the coral reef for future generations this way.

The rich sea life and the crystal clear water will give you plenty enough time to drift away from the world above water. One of the easy places to get in touch with this sea life is the shipwreck near Isla Perro. This place is perfect for people not used to snorkeling or scuba diving but also gives people that have done it before a nice challenge to spot all the sea life around the ship. Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera because spotting a wild turtle, shark or octopus isn’t a rare sight in the waters around the San Blas Islands.   The best way to snorkel in San Blas is charter a sailing boat.  EcoCircuitos Panama organize this adventure for you.

Hay que Desarrollar la Marca Panamá

Por Annie Young J.

LA PRENSA

17/09/2014 – ¿Cuál es la marca Panamá? ¿Con qué nos identifican internacionalmente? En realidad, yo no lo tengo muy claro. Cada cinco años cambiamos la marca y el producto Panamá se diluye con las mariposas, los negocios abiertos, las rutas por descubrir y algunos eslóganes con poco sentido.

Hay quienes piensan que este país es un destino de convenciones, compras y casinos. Y muchos estamos convencidos de que tiene mucho potencial para convertirse en el mejor destino leisure de Centroamérica. Y que, a través de ese segmento, podría atraer a muchos viajeros de incentivo, quienes gastan más sin bajar las tarifas hoteleras, manteniendo un producto de calidad.

Cuando el destino esté posicionado y tengamos un centro de convenciones decente, entonces podríamos promover convenciones y congresos que se planifican con varios años de anticipación. Sin embargo, si no tenemos claro hacia dónde queremos ir, será muy difícil promover al país en el extranjero y seguiremos, como empresa privada, apostando a una industria que no termina de arrancar.

Converso con mis colegas de diversos sectores (hoteleros, turoperadores, arrendadores de autos, etc.) y todos coincidimos en que nos hace falta una campaña sostenida y agresiva de promoción internacional. Sin embargo, aunque se trabaja muy fuerte para lograr este propósito, en conjunto con la Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá, los representantes de los sectores mencionados nos tenemos que unir y crear, con urgencia, una marca Panamá, que no confunda al comprador y nos identifique como país.

He seguido de cerca el éxito de la marca Perú y he visto cómo, en conjunto con la empresa privada, se ha sabido promover el país involucrando diversos sectores: gastronomía, ciencia, cultura, naturaleza y moda. Es decir, ellos promueven a Perú como una marca en la que diversos actores impulsan el destino para atraer a turistas con intereses diversos, y tienen mucho éxito.

Los destinos que saben explotar su marca de manera sostenida, son los que ven frutos en su inversión a largo plazo. Marcas como “I Love New York” y “Pure” de Nueva Zelanda son ejemplos de campañas poco tradicionales, pero que se mantienen en las mentes de los consumidores, no importa si hay cambios de administración. En Panamá podemos desarrollar una que involucre muchos aspectos. Tenemos una historia fascinante, acceso a la ciencia y tecnología, excelente gastronomía y un producto turístico completo: convenciones, incentivos y, por supuesto, turismo histórico, étnico y de naturaleza.

Nos toca a todos los involucrados trabajar de la mano para entender nuestro producto y desarrollar la mejor marca que nos identifique como país. No solo somos convenciones, compras, casinos y un Canal. ¡Somos mucho más!