One recent Sunday morning, my husband and I drove from our home in Las Tablas to the city of Penome, Panama to take a look around.
Penonome is located about a two-hour drive west of Panama City. It’s in Cocle Province and sits right on the Pan-American highway. The highway takes a big turn at Penonome, as you can see on the map. (The Pan-American is shown in yellow.)
The business district sits to the north of the highway and covers about a dozen blocks. There’s a church at the central park (of course). There’s also the police station and a governor’s mansion. Since we were there on a Sunday afternoon after all the businesses were closed, there wasn’t much to look at. I imagine it’s a pretty bustling place the other six days of the week.
We grabbed some lunch at the Hotel Dos Continentes restaurant which faces the Pan-American highway. It was obviously a popular place, with families coming and going. My husband ordered arroz con pollo and liked it better than any other he’s had in Panama. Considering how often he eats it, that’s high praise! The service bordered on being attentive, also unusual here.
No English was spoken at either the hotel desk, where we asked some questions, or in the restaurant.
After lunch we decided to drive around a bit and explore the general area.
Armed with my smart phone and Google maps, we checked out a few residential areas. We found areas that were well maintained and clean, but nowhere did we find any but small houses. Perhaps the larger ones are tucked away out of sight.
Outside of town we found plenty of livable neighborhoods, but without much in the way of amenities. You’d have to go into Penonome to shop for anything more than you could find at the convenience store.
The high point of our little jaunt was a visit to the town of La Pintada, famous apparently for the “sombrero Pintada” hats that are part of the men’s national costume.
We were struck, as we drove up into the hills, by the lack of litter along the highway. Litter is a problem here — think back to roadside litter in the US in the 50’s and early 60’s if you remember that far back. It’s something that really bugs my husband (to the point where he’s appointed himself a one-man cleanup crew around our neighborhood and our favorite Las Tablas beach). These roads were pristine. Completely litter free.
We also saw some amazing stonework construction. This special, local stone was used in buildings, walls, and even decorative pathways and it was gorgeous! I tried to include a little in the video for you to see.
When we reached La Pintada we found a ceremony in front of the church. The local saint had been for an outing, and when we arrived the pickup truck was parked, and men were removing the saint from the truck to carry her back into the church.
On the other side of the park sits a good-sized restaurant. The town is small, but it does have a business district and a few stores. Being up in the hills it’s a bit cooler than Penonome itself. If you don’t mind planning your trips into town, it could be a very pleasant place to live.
Here are two brief videos. The first looks at the business district of Penonome, and the second shows you a glimpse of a delightful little town up in the hills above Penonome.