I met Casey during my last week in Colombia. More than a decade earlier, he had left the United States to start his own business in Central America, which surprised me considering how he seemed about my age! In the interview below, he talks about his move to Costa Rica after college, how the country has changed since he arrived, why a trip to Panama should be on your bucket list, and his first impressions of Medellin.
GB: Why is Panama a “must see” destination for travelers?
Casey: Several reasons:
1. Native Cultures — Panama is one of the few Latin Countries with thriving native cultures. There are 8 indigenous tribes here, many of whom are living a simplistic lifestyle that hasn’t changed in a hundred years.
2. History — Few countries can compare to the rich history, past and near-present, of Panama. From the Spanish Colonial days with regular visits by pirates like Henry Morgan, to the country’s fascinating separation from Colombia (due in part to Teddy Roosevelt and some Wall Street profiteers), The Canal, the U.S. military presence, Noriega and the U.S. invasion, it’s a country with living history at every turn. Just seeing the Panama Canal in action and a few former military bases is an incredible site.
3. Local Traditions — Panama’s rich and diverse culture has been the catalyst for a bevvy of traditions, from the beautiful to the bizarre. Carnavales, a week-long celebration that is Panama’s version of Mardis Gras, is probably the most famous.
4. Nature — Most folks don’t associate Panama with nature, and the country itself has done a poor job of protecting its resources, but even still the nation is surrounded by lush rain forest and is home to a treasure of bio-diversity. Nearly everything you can find in Costa Rica can be found here…and then some.
5. Be First — As mentioned above, you can find most of what you’ll encounter in Costa Rica…except hordes of tourists. Very often you may find yourself alone on a lovely hilltop or beach, wondering..”where are the tourists?” They’re somewhere else, obviously…so enjoy it!
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