In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
Panama City, Panama
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
One of the things we wanted
to do while staying in
was to visit Casco Viejo, the old town. At $35 per person to take a tour, we decided instead
to take a taxi to the town and walk around on our own.
Map of Casco Viejo
Outside our hotel room we flagged down a taxi
who told us he would take us to the Old Town for $3USD. That's more like it!
First order of business was to get a
cappuccino and a pastry, so after the taxi driver dropped us off, we ventured
into the town to find a cafe. The weather was gorgeous, but humid.
Guide to Early Retirement, 3rd Edition
Energized by the coffee and huge double
chocolate brownie with fresh whipping cream that we shared, off we went to see
what we could see.
Typical street in renovated Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo, or Old Town, was built in 1672
and is the second Panama City. The first city was built in 1519 and was
purposefully burned to the ground in 1671 to prevent the pirate Henry Morgan
from attacking and looting it.
Lots of gorgeous wrought iron work
throughout the town
Casco Viejo is the historic district and
cultural gem of Panama City. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in
A building before it has been restored
Casco Viejo is one of the richest and most
populated neighborhoods in the Americas. But in around the 1950s the town
experienced decades of neglect and buildings became run down, as you can see
Today much restoration is going on, and a
building such as this one which is home to a poor family is right beside one
that has been brought back to life. As you can see, it is quite a contrast, and
this contrast is seen throughout the town.
Another restored section
The streets are jam packed
with buildings that used to be homes, government buildings, cathedrals and
churches. Now these buildings are utilized as museums, gourmet restaurants,
quaint shops and even upscale residences.
Notice the new brick used
for paving the streets instead of cobblestone.
The ruin of an old church
Some of the old buildings and ruins of
churches are slated for restoration and some are not. It is a very extensive and
Here we are in front of Victor's
Victor's is a Panama hat factory. The Panama
hat was made famous during the building of the Panama Canal and workers wore
them to shield them from the intense sun.
Panama hats on the Plaza
A great souvenir from Panama would be one of
these hats. You can choose one from various styles and shapes of the brim. The
original Panama hat was able to be rolled up and tucked into the belt of a canal
worker, a versatile feature for travelers!
Palacio and Salon Bolivar
Salon Bolivar is on the Plaza and has been
beautifully restored to the original. Panama's Foreign Ministry offices have a
water's edge view. There is now a small museum about Panama's political history
located here as well.
Outdoor cafes are common
At lunch time, these cafes get busy. They
have a very European feel to them.
A view of the new city of Panama from the
Those who lived in Casco Viejo when it was
founded in 1672 would be amazed at what they would see today. Such different
Palacio de las Garzas
The white building in the center of the photo
is the Presidential Palace, the official residence of the President. Palacio de
las Garzas is the name the house is given due to the African herons who were
brought in as a gift in 1922 after the final renovations were completed. The
courtyard is in the style of Andalusia, Spain and the herons roam freely there.
The palace was originally built in the 17th
century by an official of the Spanish crown.
This building is closed to the public, and
this was as close as the guard let us stand. We have heard that some guards will
let you photograph the impressive lobby.
With new Panama City as
There are lots of places to
get a great photo. Here we have more of the stylish wrought iron gates and lamp
posts in Old Town, with the skyscraper skyline of the new city in the
The Metropolitan Cathedral on the Plaza de
This cathedral, also known as Plaza Catedral, is on the main square in Casco
Viejo. The country's independence from both Spain and Columbia were celebrated
here and the busts of Panama's founding fathers are scattered around the plaza.
A captivating wall mural
Wildly painted wall murals are dotted all
around Panama City and Casco Viejo. At the bottom of this photo you can see the
sidewalk where the mural meets the ground.
Original graffiti on
another crumbling building within Old Town
We were told by a local
that as Casco Viejo cleaned up and brought more wealthy international tourists
to Panama City, the gangs were cleaned up too. Retrained as tour guides, they
now give tours of the Old Town. One of the gang members reflected out loud: "We
used to rob these people when they came to Casco. Now they give us their money
in exchange for a tour. Things have changed."
There is more pride in the
Statue of General Tomas Herrera on Plaza
General Tomas Herrera fought in South America's wars for independence from Spain
and later led Panama's first attempt to gain independence from Colombia in the
mid 1800s. Parts of the original city wall can be found off the west side of the
Looking toward Plaza Indenpendencia from a
Sometimes on weekends or holidays, musicians
will play from inside this gazebo on the Plaza Indenpendencia. Notice that
everywhere you look in Old Town, that the streets are clean and - for the most
part - sidewalks are not broken.
building with arched windows and decorative wrought iron
It's a pleasure to walk
around the town, peeking through shop windows, visiting cafes and picking up a
meal at one of the restaurants. Casco Viejo is neat and inviting.
Acrobat practicing his
We visited the Old Town
several times during our stay in Panama City, and on one of our walks we saw
these acrobats practicing their trade. Music was blaring through the open window
which is what stopped us in our tracks. When we looked inside, we saw these
The music gave rhythm to the circus crew
inside. There were jugglers and jumpers and climbers.
Two-toned building with arched windows and
side fire escape
A truly civilized and clean area of the city,
Casco Viejo attracts visitors from all around the world.
Vendor distracted by her
restaurants and tourist shops selling souvenirs, are small vendors making a
living. Prices marked on goods here are in USD or fractions thereof.
Adventurer's Guide to the Possible Dream
Sign for a Spanish
Learning Spanish while
visiting a foreign country has great appeal. You can practice the moment you go
outside! This sign advertises "Survival Spanish" and "Spanish for Travelers."
This is a very useful approach as you get instant reward for your hard work. You
can perfect your grammar and verb tenses at a later date. This is practical
Spanish, and the more you use it, the more adept you will become.
Two buildings in contrast
Here you find a couple of buildings close
together. One has been renovated completely, and the other needs some repair.
When we walked down this side street, wafting
through the air was the fragrance of char grilled red peppers and garlic. YUM!
A little outside
You can get tropical
cocktails here made with Bacardi rum, or a beer and a burger.
Another view of Panama City's skyline
Another shot of the skyline from Casco.
A Bistro by the water
This attractive maroon shuttered building
houses a bistro.
More renovated buildings
with wrought iron
One can only imagine how
this town was "back in the day" of settlement. It must have been quite grand.
Here you see more outdoor
umbrellas shading restaurant seating.
arched doors, and gorgeous wrought iron
One can stay in a hotel or
a hostel here in Casco Viejo if you want the feel of living in this attractive
environment. We found boutique grocery stores to purchase goods to take home and
there were plenty of restaurants and cafes in which to hang out or have a meal.
panoramic view of the city.
Most certainly, if you go
to Panama City, plan to visit Casco Viejo. For the $3 taxi ride, you may as well
go a few times. Try several coffee houses and eat meals in different locations.
We think you will enjoy the
contrast of the two cities of Panama, one of them quaint and colonial, and the
other quite modern.
stories and photos of Panama, click
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.