We are the Canadian couple and yes the whole story is never told in the media however to clarify a few things, we were not looking for trouble in fact up to that point we had enjoyed the week talking, socializing and enjoying the locals. We travel very humbly and with great respect of the country and people we are visiting. We had adhered to staying out of areas that higher risk was pointed out. This incident happened on the way to the airport after staying two days in isla grande at the sister moon hotel. We feel we are very smart travellers and low key, thus thus blind sided us.
Below is a statement I made on social media and in response to a comment on CBC coverage in canada online.
It seems we offended some people by sharing our story with the media in hopes of improving the information conveyed to the public about the country of Panama. I want to state very clearly that our intention has never been to blame anyone in Canadian government for what has happened to us but rather to alert the public about possible dangers not to scare people but to educate and to encourage the government and other similar advisory websites to consider increasing their risk level for travel in this country. Below is a message I replied with to a comment made in regards to the CBC coverage.
Perhaps rather than judge our position or our intent with sharing our story , getting in touch with us personally would be a more respectful approach.
"Seriously, you are blaming the government??? Do you read the news? You honestly let the government travel advisories dictate where you go on holidays.....wake up the world is full of crime and you take a chance every time you walk out the front door. Take responsibility for your decision."
we appreciate your "kind" words however if what you have read you have interpreted as blame you have misinterpreted our message.
we never placed blame on anyone for our travel decisions or any decision for that matter. We take full responsibility. We are simply stating knowing that many people have the expectation of the country that we had, that people must be more alert to the possibility of dangers in this country. Indeed one can travel anywhere in the world and create, experience and or attract trouble.
We strongly feel we mixed in humbly with our surroundings and the people. We are smart travellers and understated. We both stated quite clearly we did not feel this was representative of the country and its people but rather a minority of.
Our message to share with the public was quite simply learn from our experience and be aware that this is possible unfortunately. And no we do no let any advisory website dictate where we travel to and have no fear around travelling anywhere in the world and accept that risk and responsiblity around it. Some people however may not be as comfortable or confident.. Perhaps what must be understood is that what is reported in media is not always complete and rather than criticize us about sharing our experience or make ***umptions about our intent in doing so you should try to contact us to get the full story.
And please excuse me if we were shaken by this experience and it has left you feeling angry over our display of emotion.
Perhaps you are use to a gun pointed 4 inches from your face but we are not.
It saddens me that this has happened as these people must have experienced great oppression and hatred in their life to feel the need to convey behaviour to others as such. Just as it saddens me that you feel the need to express your hostility towards our intention of only sharing so others could learn from our experience.
I truly hope you never experience anything similar.
My husband and I take full responsiblity for every decision we choose and consider all positive as no matter what there is always a lesson to be learned. There is never any place for blame toward anyone only forgiveness and lessons learned
Whenever travelling in this part of Equatorial Central America Always carry and use a strong Mosquito and insect repellant. Due to its location not far from the Equator this is an area that is prevelant to many mosquito borne diseases.. Malaria, Dengue fever are really bad infections to receive So a strong Repellant is neccesary to use especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are at their worst.Wear loose fitting lightweight clothing with long sleeves and pants..Make sure that you cover ALL exposed skin with a repellant..Dont forget your ears!!!.
Like anywhere , here in Central Americas Panama make sure that you have the neccesary Travel Insurance. I found Panama City to be a very dangerous place and was glad that I had my Travel Insurance in place. I always have the neccesary cover for my needs when travelling anywhere.
The thought of an accident as we travel is the last thing that we really want to think of but as we all know accidents happen anywhere and at anytime. Also, Mother Nature may intervene at anytime throwing our best laid travel plans into turmoil.
Hospital stays along with the huge costs of doctors or surgeons can carry crippling costs.
When organising your travel plans make sure that you include the neccesay Travel Insurance that meets all your travel needs. I always include repatriation in my accident and medical Travel Insurance aggreement along with theft.
As they say: "If you can't afford Travel Insurance."!!..You Can't afford to travel.
Colon is one of the most dangerous, violent, and grotesque places in the Western Hemisphere, to give out information contrary to this, is not only patently false and ridiculous, but precarious and misconceived. Colon is a place of despicable and abject vileness commensurate to the harshest slums of Haiti or Brazil. No Panamanian with the slightest bit of honesty, truthfulness, or decency would tell you otherwise.
- Brian D'Ambrosio
I imagine all of these dogs are littered with worms. A US pet shelter would have a heart attack the way these animals listlessly meander around town, and can barely hold their head up. They are sick and in very poor shape. I felt sorry for them, but to feed them is not right, and to make a friend can be dangerous to your health. No doubt. They just want to lay down and die. Some looked like they were
Not all those natives are endangered and being encroached by tourists. This little old lady was down right mean, and she surely did not want to be here, but was planted square in the middle of the main square looking for handouts. I did this, and she was not at all appreciative. On the other hand, I am sure she does not want all these intruders coming to her turf, and gawking. She no doubt has not choice but to bring down her pride and humble for money. However,m I was later shopping for something made locally and she came along, tried to force me to buy at a very steep price, and when I refused, she gave me a hand sign only known to the gangsters in Los Angeles. She was mean, and contrary the tourists are the threatened ones.
Watch were you may want to Eat. The appearance of most, if not all of the establishments look to me as if you may take something home with you. Not all looked that bad,but the back door and the "runoff" of stuff into the drainage ditch around town caused me to wonder about sanitation. A small bar/grocery convenience store is right in the middle if you need a little packaged food.
The local police kept driving by while the tour bus was stopped here. A fair number of locals also show up here on colorful buses daily, to shop, or leisure? The danger may not be outwardly apparent, but unemployment is high, and mix that with some drink and maybe someone goes loco on you. I do not think the people would intentionally get in your "turf" but I got panhandled by more than one to give money for a drink. The police car kept on constant movement around the two main streets of the town, keeping close watch on the younger men hanging around the outside bar.
These are the more "rustic" of kinds. The ones I first went into were not worth walking through the door. I backed out and went to the little restaurant next door. For 25 cents, they let you in. Water barely ran, though. The flush was okay, but ask where does it flush to. I noted a "creek" that looked like a drainage ditch for whatever. I am pretty sure some places do not have a sewer system access, and/or it does not work. The overflow most likely ends up in the bay. One restroom; I did not try them all, I was told by the church needed water to prime the flush, and it was dingy inside. Maybe the best one is at he administrative building, in the rear, so to speak.
Do not go to them if you cannot handle it. A fair number of tours may take a little effort, and others more so. If people are not able to keep up, are miserable in doing so, or hold back others; do not go on tours. Some look like they are going to die on the spot.
Hokey locals for tips. This is another place where the almighty dollar outlay prevails over just plain do not embarrass them or you. These people need to live, so set up shop on the bridge getting back to the ship. In playing, they obviously want a tip. If a picture is taken, guess what. Myself, I cannot stand to see this from either side. It depict the cheap taste of tourists, in my opinion, and the locals have to do it to survive. Give it up.
Make Sure you know where you are, where you are going, and when/how to get back. The streets in town look safe enough, but would not venture too far off the main one. No one said do not go out on your own, and crime was not discussed much. But, given the poverty level, and local indigenous hard living can lead to problems. Taxi drivers can take you around for $3 to destination.
We found out the hard way that a lot of taxi drivers are crooks! We paid $20 for a trip to see a relative. The return trip was $5. We were schooled by my Father in law that you must find out(from your hotel staff) what an average fare is to your destination. Then ask the driver before what he wants. We actually haggled a taxi fare, imagine that. We did find a good fellow and we used him several times. He was friendly and honest. His name is Tito and his number is 6549-3943. Call him.
If you decide to hire a guide to show you around be sure to have someone trustworthy! Our tour guide was a nice guy but spoke hardly a word of english and so there were a few misunderstandings about what time the border closed (leads to lots of stress!). Also, for some reason we made lots of stops to see his "friends" which included strange pick ups and drop offs (we were driving around in a pick-up truck). As you'll see in the picture below, we picked up a bunch of oil drums and dropped them off at a sketchy military-style port. Made us very uneasy!
Panama was worried about the use of to much electricity because of drought conditions. So every afternoon the electricity was shut of for 4 hours. This was no problem for us because we were always out of the cottage at that time.
All in all, we enjoyed our experience at the hotel. It is well located, hence you are close to...more
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