I have been to Panama numerous times now and it feels so safe. I rented a one bedroom with my own bathroom and shared kitchen with the host Nienke (ex-tour guide) who is now working for the Government. She was a great help on getting to know Panama. She also had another room for rent that was rented out most of the time I was there, and it was nice meeting more travelers from around the world. My friend Joe came to stay at the condo too, he got a great deal at $30.00 a night and I paid only $550.00 for the month. It was in a great location, about a block and a half from the Hard Rock hotel and about the same distance from the Rio hotel the other way. People staying at those hotels are paying between $150.00 and $1500.00 a night.
I also took a trip up to Colon on my own for a day. They don't recommend going there on your own but I felt okay, not threatened at all, but I would not do it at night. There are no really good deals in the free zone anyway. John, Joe Pedro from Panama, and I went to Colon just to check it out, and they saw for themselves that there is no good deals there too.
I was surprised when I brought my friend Joe there. He felt so safe, he saw a door open wide and he loves to take pictures so he walked right up into a poor family’s home to take pictures. I saw someone coming towards him, so I walked up and started talking to the man of the house and checked he was okay with us taking pictures. He was telling us that the roof had just caved in on them a couple of months ago. I went back a couple of days later and took some video and I noticed it looked like they had 2 or 3 families living there. Just think of where you are living right now and if the roof blew off your home. Now you only have rooms so to protect us from the weather we would do the same as they do; cover the room you're living in. Luckily they live in a warm climate; we cannot do that in Canada. It's way too cold!
Down the road they have a seafood market, top notch walking, running, biking paths along the Pacific Ocean plus parks, an outdoor gym, lots of soccer and basketball along the path. I was watching a soccer game one night and noticed after the game that one team walked towards the poor area bridge and the other team walked over to their nice cars. It showed me that we are all the same, never judge one another. I do not know who won the game but they sure were competitive and had a great time.
Joe and I started off at the Canal in Panama City, where Joe has taken over a boat (he thinks that anyway!) then John and Pedro picked us up to go to the other end of the Canal in Colon were you are so close to the ships.
Joe Forzani is a great guy to travel with. We are the same in a lot of ways, he has no problem going to places that most tourist will not go into. Funny thing, we were walking in this one area which has good deals on shopping and I said to Joe, “Do you notice there are no tourists here?”. He was the only one with a camera in his hands. I said there are no worries being there during the day, it is safe, but I would not go there during the night. Think about it. Are there places in your home city that you would not go to at night time?