I recently moved to Pedasi, Panama and within the first week of living here I got caught in the middle of two scary, near accident stampedes. The first happened when I was driving in our family pick-up truck to nearby Isla Canas. Isla Canas is a great local island with a small population, accessible by boat through really neat mangroves. While driving there I wound up in the middle of the largest herd of cattle I’ve ever seen on the road here. Now normally I would say one out of three drives that I take anywhere in the Azuero Peninsula include having to stop in the middle of the road while a herd of cattle are rounded up and directed to their destination. Some times there are rogue cows that have to be roped and tied and drug off the road or other cows who make a break for it and go trotting by the car. This time however, was totally different!
The sheer size of the herd was massive and these cows, Brahma bulls I should say, were huge. There were only three cowboys in charge of the whole lot and before I knew it there was another car on the opposite side of the road coming towards us and the cows panicked and starting running and pushing and shoving past the car. Needless to say, the car incurred a few dents and I had a near panic attack thinking I was going to get stomped to death. Finally I backed up and turned the car around and headed down a side dirt road.
If you think That was scary, it doesn’t even compare to Friday’s mayhem when president hopeful, Ricardo Martinelli, was in town! While I would have liked to have heard Martinelli’s speech on the town square, my family left town and headed up to Las Tablas to take care of some banking issues that were urgent. Hours later, Martinelli had finished up in Pedasi and was heading up our way. We knew that he would be in Las Tablas as there was a crowd in the middle of town, loud music blasting and a guy warming up the audience, but I never imagined what was to come.
We left Las Tablas and headed back to Pedasi only to wind up coming face to face with a parade of speeding trucks, cattle trucks, 4×4’s and pickups, all packed to the brim with people hanging out of windows and standing up in the the flat beds. Flags were waving and I realize that spirits were high, HOWEVER, these trucks were driving insanely fast and in both lanes! They were passing each other, blaring their music and generally being dangerously reckless. More than one time we came to a full stop in OUR lane only to be met head-on by another truck who barely hit us and then honked its horn to re-enter the appropriate lane.
The moral of the story is that driving in Panama is dangerous. You never know what to expect, so be prepared for raging drivers or raging bulls.
|Written by Cailey Halloran|
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