Striking gold in Panama
Tuesday, December 01 2009 @ 03:14 pm EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
Development has been equally heavy in other parts of Panama City, in addition to resorts and all-inclusives dotting the coast and nestled in the tropical splendour of the vast rainforest. Tour companies are beefing up adventure-'til-you-drop fare, including fishing, diving, hiking, wet rappelling, zip trekking and jungle excursions.
Beach life meets the tropical surroundings of exotic fruit, monkeys and misty cascading falls: Panama is home to some of the sweetest pineapple in the world, and many species of rare flora and wildlife.
In what constitutes rural rainforest neighbourhoods, tourists will also spot curious quirks of Latin life, such as the industrious drive-in motels for lovers adorned with unassuming white signs and candy red hearts. Tu y Yos (You and Me) are what look like North American garages and are rumoured to be owned by the crooner king of Latin America, Julio Iglesias.
Ecotourism is also growing in the little country that could. Volunteer-work holidays and visits with indigenous rainforest cultures are growing industries. Tourists can board tiny piraguas paddled by semi-clothed natives in crocodile- infested waters to see an old way of life relatively untouched by modern society. Tribes that include the Kuna and Embera Indians have been working with the government and tour companies to increase tourism opportunities by showcasing their authentic jewelry, crafts, cuisine and dance.
The new Panama Canal may not open until 2014, but Panama is intent on encouraging a rebirth of its nation in the meantime.