My new MSNBC column is out this week: Beating the Crowds to Panama. If you’re aghast at the plummeting U.S. dollar (and wondering how our inept president can possibly do any more damage than he has already done to the economy), head down to Panama. You don’t even have to change money at the airport.
That doesn’t mean everything there is a screaming bargain. It’s a strong economy after all, with a per capita income that’s far higher than the rest of Central America, including Costa Rica. But if you ever get bummed out that you are paying more than you expected for hotel rooms, it’s easy to drown your sorrows:
As our boat trip ended in Portobelo, we stopped off at a local cantina for drinks and dancing. I picked up the tab for 23 Balboa beers as we departed. No, I’m not a big spender: at 75 cents a beer, I paid with a $20 and said, “No cambio, gracias.”
If you’re into nature and outdoor adventure activities, Panama is a nice alternative to Costa Rica, with hardly a tour bus in sight. There are some big cruise ships docking there, unfortunately, but they don’t stay long or go very far off the beaten track. You definitely won’t be with a big crowd if you go kayaking on the Chagras River (as in this “view from the kayak” photo of mine).