Two Years Of Drinking Beer In Panama
Okay, a little over two years and whole lot more than beer — but this is a little goodbye note to Panama.
Of the four national beers in Panama (Panama, Balboa, Soberana & Atlas), the green-bottled namesake is by far the best. Though, I must admit, they all taste a bit like gutter-water and will leave you more bloated than drunk.
I’ve drank Panama underwater in bromine-soaked pools and I’ve drank it in the back seat of a Piper Cherokee Six while flying low over the Pearl Islands.
I’ve drank Panama at 7:00am in the stern of a rusted-out fishing panga with strange Panamanian fishermen while the burnt sun rose over endless waters. I’ve set a can down briefly while I reeled in a 25lbs Yellow Fin Tuna.
I’ve drank piss-warm Panama rapidly and I’ve drank frozen, slushy Panama slowly. I’ve drank Panama to get hammered and I’ve drank Panama to sober up.
I’ve been in Panama long enough to see the beer can design change three times.
I’ve drank Panama with wide-eyed, American frat-boys who insist on using cheap foam kouzies and I’ve drank Panama with apocalyptic bums on the cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo.
I calculated that I consume more than twenty four cans of Panama weekly. Given Panama’s reluctance to recycle, this quantity is probably worse for the environment than it is for my health.
I’ve drank it on white-leather rooftops overlooking a half-baked skyline and the inky Bay of Panama and I’ve drank it in ancient dungeons and crumbling stone basements.
I’ve drank Panama at Elton John, Enrique Iglesias and Damian Marley concerts — all three of which were equally bizarre.
I’ve been half-buzzed on Panama while line-handling a 35ft sailboat through the Miraflores locks at the yawning mouth of the Panama Canal.
I’ve paid $0.45 for a Panama in a chinito and $4.00 for a Panama at The Trump Ocean Club. They tasted the same.
I’ve shot-gunned Panama and I’ve thrown-up Panama.
I’ve drank Panama on the beach, in the shower, on the toilet, behind the wheel, too-fast, too-slow, too-early, too-late, before surfing, after surfing and during sex.
I’ve drank Panama with a cigar, with a joint, with lime, with ice, with tomato juice, in the company of blue-haired gringos and too-young local kids. I’ve drank Panama with friends and foes, expats and Indians, artists and tramps.
On the eve of my flight back to Toronto I can’t help but think about all the Panamanian things I will miss. The insanely lush, cinematic, dramatic, doomsday rainy season. Or the cellophane skies and skin-searing heat of the Panamanian summer.
I’ll miss the mumbly, kind-hearted, dark-skinned cholo farmers from the interior and the milky, more-beautiful-than-thou, richer-than-thou Yeye kids in the city.
I’ll miss the way Panamanians always make a point to say hola when they walk past you on the street or when they stumble up onto a busy bus.
I’ll miss their soul-pounding Reggaeton and heart-lifting Cantadera. I’ll miss their tucked-away innocence and their enduring pride.
I’ll miss the way Panamanians love life but make sure it churns slowly. I’ll miss their language, their canal, their diversity, their ropa vieja, and their always-true smiles.
Perhaps most of all though,I will miss their watered-down, always-refreshing, brilliantly-priced beer.