Quick tips on “what to do and what not to do” if reporting in Panama

Panama City
Panama City has the population of over 880,000 and is located on the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. The city was founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Davilla. Panama City is a service-based economy with banking, commerce and tourism. Photo by Isaiah Singleton

SPJ Region 3 intern shares his work as a student journalist reporting in Panama

Editor’s Note: SPJ Region 3’s summer intern Isaiah Singleton is working in Panama as a student journalist along with Savannah State University Department of Journalism and Mass Communication’s aboard program this early June. Singleton will share his views and insights of his experience as a journalist in Panama.

By Isaiah Singleton, SPJ Region 3 summer intern, Savannah State University

Traveling abroad can be the best experience of your life but it can also be overwhelming if you are not familiar with the area, culture and rules of the country you will be visiting. Panama is beautiful, but just like anywhere you may travel aboard, it can also be very dangerous.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to help navigate fellow travelers in the country of Panama.

Do’s in Panama:

  • Do your research on the weather – Panama’s weather is categorized as tropical. There is no escaping the heat or the humidity even during the dry season. Rain is very possible too on many consecutive days.

According to Sciencing.com, “The term tropical has a rather specific meaning when applied to the scientific sense of the word. An area with tropical climate is one with an average temperature of above 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) and considerable precipitation during at least part of the year. These areas are nonarid and are generally consistent with equatorial climate conditions around the world.” 

Although the weather may be hot and humid, it might be a good idea to cover up skin in the tropical weather to protect against insects.

Wear casual clothes in Panama … preferably those made from light cotton that are breathable and will keep a person cool, states the Central American travel website, getawaytips.azcentral.com.  Although the weather may be hot and humid, it might be a good idea to cover up skin in the tropical weather to protect against insects. If traveling to the rainforest, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect against vines and other plants with thorns.

  • Do relax in Playa Las Lajas – Imagine walking along a 20 km long sandy beach with nice tunes playing in the background and enjoying the day with friends and family. One of the most peaceful beach places in Panama Las Lajas is uneasy 6 hour ride from the capital, Panama City. 

This beach has high ratings on TravelAdvisor.com. The reviews range from spectacular sunsets to low-cost hotel accommodation. 

  • Do Visit Panama City – This is the most cosmopolitan capital of Central America. Panama City is a lively metropolis that never really stops growing. Between the city attractions and the nightlife, the city is filled with amazing skyscrapers and other historic landmarks.  
Panama canal
The most famous landmark in Panama City visit to the famous Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. CultureTrip.com photo

Don’ts in Panama:

  • Don’t forget your bug spray – Bugs are everywhere, however in such a tropical place like Panama, the insects may carry diseases that you are not used to.

The Center for Disease Control suggests when traveling in Panama, “you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent malaria while traveling.”

  • Don’t disrespect the law – I believe in the term, “When in doubt, shut your mouth”. The laws aren’t completely different in Panama, however just be mindful of what you do. Be respectful and do not act a complete fool in public.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama states on their website to following the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting or living in and learn about laws there which might be different from the laws in the United States. See what the U.S. Embassy can do or not do if you are arrested in Panama HERE.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try new foods – This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Not many people get a chance to travel abroad. This is not the time to go to a completely different country and go to McDonalds or Burger King (although, fast food restaurants are much better abroad than they are in the U.S.). Try the delicacies that are native to the country, you never know, you might just enjoy it.
Panama food 2
Lunch and dinner in Panama usually includes rice, beans and meats. TripAdvisor.com photot

People in Panama eat a lot of rice for lunch and dinner. The rice is always served with some kind of meat (pork, chicken, fish, etc.) and “miniestras” which can besweet plantain (platano en tentacion) with beans (porotos, lentejas, frijoles), states BuzzFeed when visiting the country of Panama.

Isaiah mug
Isaiah Singleton

Isaiah Singleton is SPJ Region 3’s 2018 summer intern. He is a junior at Savannah State University majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in online print journalism. Singleton is a contributing writer for the University’s student-ran newspaper, The Tiger’s Roar. Raised in Stockbridge, Georgia, writing has always been his passion. During childhood, he wrote numerous fictional stories about his life and what he wanted it to be. 

“Coming to SPJ Region 3, I want to bring my passion for writing and ability to think on my feet to the table. My goals for interning here are to establish multiple networking relationships, learn more about the media industry with hands-on experience, and to enjoy the opportunity that SPJ’s “Sizing Up the South” has in-store for me. When it comes to long-term goals, I want to become an editor and eventually I want to own my own magazine/newspaper or publishing company. I want to make change in the world via my writing whether that is hard news or more personal/ controversial topics in the world.” – Isaiah Singleton

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” – Benjamin Franklin



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