Panama, Casco Viejo, Casco Antiguo
This month, Panama has started to re open its economic doors. Little by little, businesses have started to re activate, and slowly the streets are starting to come back to life. This has been a time of lessons for everyone, but if something has been clear to me is that each community is living this experience in a different way. People have asked me how has it been here in Casco. I think that in general, depending on which stage Panama was at the moment, from total lockdown to more flexible lifestyle, Casco has had very specific strenghts:
A walkable community: walking has always been part of the “casqueño” lifestyle. Plazas, parks, and even small beaches, our community gives us variety of scenarios a few steps away. So even during the strictest hour schedule you could get a lot done, just by walking, as you´ll see later.
A connected community: residential and commercial whatsapp groups activated to connect services and residents fast and efficiently, as they quickly transformed into delivery services. Need a resource, just ask! someone in the chat would respond.
Businesses from Neighbors: the fact that a number of Casco businesses are owned by residents is an important factor. They´ve been the life line for everything and everyone, from basic grocery shopping to frankly all sorts of logistics that under normal times we would take for granted.
A clear example is SuperG by Blayne and Jazmina Ladner. From the café we all know and love, they have transformed into the heart of the neighborhood activity and supplies for everything we need during the week. You can send your list by whatsapp and coordinate easily. Then, in no time, you walk from your home to their store (open air! absorbing vitamin D!), pick up and go back walking. They receive merchandise, wash it, pack it. The experience of buying at Super G is exactly the experience of a small town; they know you and your tastes, so they can help you explore new things or cater to whatever you need. While you are there, you say hi to friends, and for new people moving into the neighborhood, it is an easy place to make friends. Knowing they are there for us has made all the difference.
There are also those neighbors that own restaurants and supply businesses, like Brittany y Emma (Aki y Mahalo), Manuela (Caffe per Due), José Carles (Donde José y Fonda Lo Que Hay), Marcela (DoDo), Thomas (Calicanto), Sixta (Cafe Boquete), Vent de Saveurs (David and Dillan), Juan Acevedo (Hope Seafood). Every one of them warriors and angels, giving their support to friends, neighbors and clients. I´m sure I´m missing more names. In such a compact and connected barrio, this allowed that even through restrictions, people could get what they needed and more.
And I can´t miss what I call the “back of the house” services. Having two pharmacies in town (Revilla and Metro), several ATM, and a small Rey supermarket just in case you needed something extra. Above all, having a Mailboxes Etc at 4th Street and A Avenue to send and receive packages, to get office supplies, print, scan. With everyone working from home, this was the perfect complement.
Now you can imagine what a 15 minute walk could be for anyone living in Casco Viejo. Easy grocery shopping, access to services and pharmacies. The best restaurants in the city in your own residential whatsapp group, probably the chef living next door to you or a few steps away. If your birthday was (like mine) during this time, it helped make it special.
If you asked me if there was anything in my walks that I needed, I´d say yes. We are still missing a pet store! (if you own one, contact us!!!!). And now that we started working, we need a laundry!
Good thing that Hairarchy already opened and I could go (walking) to get a haircut.