<div id="myExtraContent1"> </div>
<div id="myExtraContent5"> </div>

Thrill Ride

Since our arrival three weeks ago we have intentionally been without a car. The first time that has been the case in over forty years. With our decision to try “city life” for the next seven months came the opportunity and we decided to give it a try.

Taxi on Avenida Porras
So, how do we get around? We walk a lot and we use taxis. Depending on your luck (or lack thereof) you will be given a ride by either a “laid back” driver (the exception) with a nice air-conditioned car, someone that thinks he’s a NASCAR driver (the rule) and is behind the wheel of something that is one stop away from the junkyard, or a combination of these two extremes. You may get music played at a reasonable level or VERY LOUD. With the latter usually comes a driver who is not inclined to turn it down despite your obvious discomfort. We’ve had taxis run out of gas. They often pick-up additional passengers on the way and may try to charge extra because “it’s raining”, they really don’t want to go where you want to go, or because you look like a tourist.

On the plus side: Taxis are cheap and do a good job of getting you from point “A” to “B” - remember that, especially when you have a ride that falls a little short of the perfect experience. Most drivers are friendly, will eventually figure out where you want to go (despite your less than perfect Spanish), will NOT charge you extra and will deliver you safely (maybe shaken and a little stirred) to your desired destination.

“Panama City Taxis for Dummies”
  • Try to be on the correct side of the street (direction you want to go).
  • Walk a couple of blocks from your hotel (or tourist attraction) to save money.
  • Hail newer looking vehicles - really picky, newer plus windows up = AC
  • Avoid cabs that already have a passenger.
  • Ready! - hail that cab, a wave of the arm usually works.
  • Tell the driver where you want to go
  • Yo no hablo español - have your destination written down or try a map
  • Be patient
  • BEFORE YOU GET IN, ask what the fare will be (cuánto).
  • IF you are satisfied with the fare and that the driver knows where you want to go, - then get in, hang on and enjoy the ride.
  • When you arrive (wasn’t that fun). Thank the driver and pay the agreed upon fare.

just a picture
Taxi “odds and ends”: Panama taxis do not have meters. Fare maps exist, but are hard to find and understand. Your fare should be between $1.50 and $3.00 for MOST of your trips within the city. Best way to find the appropriate fare - ask a Panamanian. I much prefer asking the fare BEFORE getting in the cab (protecting my option to simply say “no gracias”, if the fare is to high) - more experienced hands insist that is not necessary. If you phone for a taxi it will likely cost more, the dispatcher should tell you in advance what the fare will be. Fares for special trips (especially if they entail waiting time) should always be agreed upon beforehand. If you find a driver you like, get his cell phone number. Tips are not given to cab drivers - I violate this rule when I think it appropriate.

Happy ridding, may you always get to your destination with a smile still on your face.

<div id="myExtraContent7"> </div>
<div id="myExtraContent8"> </div>