Panama is Diversity

By Anaisha Shuffler

When you hear someone mention “Panama” what´s the first thing that comes to mind? Some people have never heard about the country before. Many think of Panama City, Florida. Others immediately picture the Canal.

What about the people? What do Panamanians look like? Are we mostly Caucasian or African American? Are we tall or short?

Aside from the Canal and the humidity, Panama is also known for its ethnic diversity. These groups include Mestizos, which are a mix of European and native ancestry, Afro-Panamanians, and also a considerable Asian population.

For this post, although I´m Afro-Panamanian myself, I will focus on the Asian population.

I graduated from a Taiwanese-Panamanian school, so naturally, most of my friends are Asians, and I have gained a huge appreciation and respect for their culture. And a vast love for their cuisine.

If you are ever in Panama and have a craving for Asian food, whether it be Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese… you will have many options.

One of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Panama is “Golden Unicorn”. Over the years, their clientele went from exclusively Asian to a clientele as diverse as our country. They are known mostly for their delicious Chinese breakfasts called “dim sum” and for their “hot pot”, known here as “fogón”.

The concept is simple: You pay a certain amount of money and they place a small stove in the middle of the table with a pot full of stock which can be spicy or regular (And if you want both, they place a divider). They bring multiple plates of different raw foods to your table such as shrimp, lobster, fish balls, meat balls, fine slices of steak, vegetables, noodles and more. You then proceed to cook your own food. The best thing about this is that once you are done, and you want more, you can ask for another round!

You may think “why would I pay to cook my own food?”, but it´s actually a fun experience. I went many times as a teenager with my friends and a few weeks ago I took my 14-year-old cousin to experience it and she loved it.

Many foreigners came up to us and asked us what it was all about, and as we explained, they got excited and went over to their table to ask for the same thing. My cousin and I would sneak glances at them, and you could just tell that they were having a blast!

It´s an awesome group activity. And if you are like me, and you like to eat, you will ask for another round.

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Panama – Upcoming Gastronomic Destination

Panama’s local cuisine infused with fresh local produce, seafood and other unique ingredients are competing against other great well known culinary destinations in Latin America. This year for the first time Panama will be represented in the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The restaurants will be showcased on September 26, 2016, this event is known as the “Oscar” of gastronomy.

Panama’s exceptional cuisine reflects its rich historical influences of the Afro Antillean, Amerindian, Chinese, Spanish and other cultures that have played essential role that makes Panama what it is today. EcoCircuitos Panama invites you to experience the culinary delights in the isthmus that changed the world! Savor local breakfast cuisine that will take you to the heart of Panama’s roots, try a fresh ceviche at the local fish market or enjoy the flare of Panama’s international cuisine in the middle of city that once was taken over by pirates.

Contact EcoCirucitos Panama to find out more about our culinary programs and day tours that can be tailored to your culinary interest. Visit local restaurants, farms, cook with local chefs and more! For additional information please contact us at: info@ecocircuitos.com

Beyond the Panama Canal

Beyond the Panama Canal, you could find yourself in lush tropical rain forests of the Canal Watershed or walking through the maze like streets of Casco Antiguo between the colorful colonial buildings and art shops and gourmet restaurants. You may also find yourself on a deserted island watching tropical fish weave through your toes. This is just a touch of what you will find in Panama. The country’s rich history is just like the fine detail you will find in a Guna indigenous mola.

In a diverse country like Panama, it comes as no surprise that travel and tourism are well developed. Tiny locally owned luxury boutique hotels coexist with many of the world’s big names in the hospitality sector, such as Waldorf Astoria, Trump, Hilton or Marriott.

Escape the winter and let yourself be surprised by Panama. Encounter traditional indigenous settlements less than two hours from the city’s international banking district, watch the incredible wildlife along the Panama Canal while huge cargo ships cross from ocean to ocean in the background, spend the morning in a state-of-the-art convention center and the afternoon on a perfect beach. Whatever you are looking for, you can find it here.

Suggestions: Stay in the colonial district of Casco Antiguo and visit nearby landmarks such as the Miraflores Locks, Panama Viejo arqueological site, the Biodiversity Museum designed by Frank Gehry and climb Discovery Centre Rain Forest tower-climb up 30 meters and gaze over the forest canopy in the Soberania National Park.

Visit the picturesque San Blas Archipelago, home of the Guna people and eat amazing seafood while learning about this vibrant culture. Then make your way to the Chiriqui highlands and search for the resplendent quetzal and drink the renowned Geshia coffee. Also make your way to the Bocas del Toro Archipelago for great snorkeling and beach combing at its best. If you have time visit the Azuero Peninsula the heart of Panama´s colonial culture and great beaches for surfing and sunbathing. For the more adventurous trek the Darien gap. Panama has something for everyone.

By EcoCircuitos Panama

Amazing Gastronomy in Panama

If you like Seafood, Panama offers a wide variety of options – with catch from the Atlantic or the Pacific, you will be delighted by the flavors and colors of the gastronomy of Panama.

This Central American Isthmus is a melting pot of Afro-Caribbean, Latin American and European cultures, and the gastronomy of Panama’s reflects the beautiful and diverse heritage: from simple and delicious ceviche from the Seafood Market to exquisite recipes with Organic ingredients.   Restaurants in Panama will please the most difficult and will tempt any palate. The Panamanian cuisine includes seafood with coconut rice, yellow curry, local herbs, accompanied by local fruits and vegetables such as name and yucca (root vegetables), corn, coconuts and plantains, organic meat and chicken and much more.  Come and explore the gastronomy of this amazing country and experience a wide selection of dishes in Panama!   For some restaurant options, click here.

If you would like to learn more about the different options or take a cooking class, contact us!

 

My Stay In Panama

By Antoine Oudot – French Intern

Antoine Oudot exploring Panama

It is a little bit hard to describe my Panamenian internship with Ecocircuitos. This is a amazing country, small, but with the richest flora and fauna I have ever seen.

When I arrived there I did not know anything about Central America and this country. As so many French people, I only knew the famous Panama canal. Moreover, my Spanish was not so good. When I arrived there I was of course stressed. But Panamenians were pleased to welcome me. They have a very good sense of hospitality. Then, my adaptation into the company was easy. Annie was glad to welcome me in EcoCircuitos and the staff shows me everything.

A week later, I started to discover the magical country. My first trip was to the Azuero Peninsula. I fell in love with the area. I have visited Chitré, Las Tablas famous for the Carnival, and finally Isla Iguana (for me it’s my paradise on earth).

I had the opportunity to visit, and discover Panama. I explore to the highlands on the western side of Panama and the beautiful and picturesque town of Boquete . The town of Boquete is very famous for the quality of life and I can say: Of course life there, is sweet!

I have visited Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side and taste the gastronomy of this side of the country… spicy.  I have hike the Soberania national Park, f the jungle between the Caribbean and the Pacific side.

Thanks to my internship, I have met beautiful local communities that has  showed me their way of life, I have learn a lot about their connection with nature and why is important to preserve the tropical forests.  I learn about the biodiversity of Panama and the efforts for preserving the land and cultures as the Kuna people.

During my internship I lived in Panama for more than 4 months in the city of Panama.   The city, shows us the evolution of the country by the different neigbourhoods: From the Casco Viejo, with the colonial area, to the new CDB. Finally I was suprised to discover that the capital is a melting pot,where you’ll meet people coming from all over the world and that’s what it makes the capital so attractive, in an enthusiastic atmosphere!

But what would be Panama without the famous canal. It was very interesting to discover all the engineering, and the process, to build this waterway.

What I will remember all my life are the mammals, especially the monkeys and the toucans. I’ve never seen them before in own environment!

Thanks to EcoCircuitos & their team I won’t forget this unique experience in this great country:  Panama!