Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Have The First One.....In All Of Central America

Years ago when we first started talking about moving to Panama, I never imagined we'd be riding on a subway here someday.  But ride it we did yesterday during a trip to Panama City with friends.  Known locally as The Metro, the subway system in Panama City is the first of it's kind in ALL of Central America.  Currently line one of the subway has 20 trains each with 3 cars that can carry a total of 200 passengers. During our commute yesterday each of the three cars were packed full, carrying a total of 600 passengers. This means that the subway has the capability to move 15,000 passengers per hour, and that number will increase to 40,000 per hour as they add more trains in the future.

Gives you and idea of the route

A big thank you to my buddy Chris for letting me
use his pictures for this one.

The Allbrook Station


We drove to Albrook Mall where we picked up our "tarjeta's or "passes" in the nearby bus station. The Metro is free to use during this initial period but we still were required to have a card to get us through the turn styles.  According to Wikipedia line one of the Metro has 16 stations of which 8 are underground, 6 are elevated and 1 is at surface level. The whole route is 8.5 miles long and takes 23 minutes to go from one end to the other. A diagram of all stops was clearly displayed on the train along with constant announcements of upcoming stops. Announcements in Spanish encouraged riders to give up their seats to the elderly, pregnant women and those traveling with young children.

When we rode, it was considerably more crowded


Panamanians enjoy like having a police presence throughout the country and the Metro is no exception. There were uniformed, armed police standing in every train car watching people come and go, making sure everyone was safe.  At one stop one of the cops  instructed a boy to step back so that the door could close safely. About half way along the route we exited the train with our friends in the El Cangrejo section of the city to find a place for lunch.  Another time got off the train in the Los Andes part of town just long enough to walk through some of the shops.

A view of one of the overhead stations  WOW!

Many people think of Panama as a third world country yet it's not looking that way anymore. By the way the term "third world" came about during the Cold War.  It simply referred to those countries not aligned with either NATO (of the US and Western European nations as First World) or the Communist Block (including the countries of Soviet Union, China and Cuba as Second World). This terminology divided the world into three groups based on social, political and economic divisions. And it's because many of the nations considered to be third-world were poorer that the stereotype stuck and is still around today in the minds of many.

Isn't it incredible!

For us Panama seems first-world in many of the things it has to offer, yet third-world in others.  It's capital city is lined with high-rise buildings, banks from all over the world, top-notch health care cheap and more shopping than anywhere else. Yet on the other hand the city water is frequently turned off either to conserve or for repairs and small breaks in electricity are rather commonplace too. But we've come to accept the little problems that arise here because the cost of living is so cheap, and our quality of life is so wonderful.  The fresh tropical air, the mountain and sea breezes and the mere fact that we're retired early and enjoying life.....along the gringo trail.

1 comment:

  1. That's a very nice-looking subway! Seems like a huge step forward.


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