Today we visited the old part of Panama an area know as Casco Viejo. Re built in 1673 following the near destruction of the city in 1673 when the original city was attacked by the English pirate Henry Morgan.
In 1997 Casco Viejo was awarded a world heritage status. Today most of the magnificent building have been carefully restored. With its narrow cobbled street quaint shop, restaurants and bars, and elaborate churches it’s an area not to be missed. We had a great day wandering its streets. Finished off by a couple of drinks up on the rooftop bar of the restaurant/bar Casa Casco.
All that said the area has its dark side. Firstly the British pirate who sacked the city in 1672 then went into doing the same to many other settlements in the Caribbean. In doing so amassed an enormous wealth. Then bought three tea plantations. Then was knighted and had a rum named after him, Captain Morgan. It seems things are no different with our current government.
Whilst we were wandering around the streets, we could not help noticing the amount of armed police in the area. It wasn’t until we strayed off of the tourist trail that we realised why. In stark contrast to well renovated buildings and swanky shops the area becomes what can only be described as a ghetto. People living in derelict buildings and run down shacks. Needless to say we didn’t stay very long.
It bothers us that all the wealth being spent in the touristy part of Casco Viejo none of it seems to filter down to what quite possibly are the original people of the area. I’m sure they could spend some money on some decent living standards for the community. We are really glad we travel the way we do, to see both sides of the countries we visit. People that book holidays with high end tour companies, or arrive on cruise ships, and are ferried around in air conditioned mini buses with blacked out windows have no idea about what really goes on in the cities they visit “I apologise to the people who do” but we feel that all the countries we visit we like to see them for what they are, warts and all.
On our journey back the taxi driver took a route through the poorest area of Casco Viejo and beyond, it was quite shocking. Now,we do not know whether he took that route to show us, as tourist’s,the real truth of the area or whether it was the quickest route. But if he was trying to make a point he certainly did.