Panamanian Party Bus
Friday, Nov. 2, 2007
Panama City, Panama
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A steamy Panama City night and it’s mayhem. I’m soaked in rum and seco (a sugar-cane spirit). Oozing beer, the sandals are beyond redemption. And my hair reeks of some smoky substance that definitely isn’t Marlboro Red.
Thirty or so sweaty bodies are crushed onto the bus’s side benches or hanging from ropes and shiny poles. Shrieks and whoops erupt as we hurtle around a corner and yet more alcohol sloshes out of plastic cups. The music (from a three-piece band) is blaring loud enough to wake the dead.
I never expected to say this about Panama (see last year’s postcards below), but I’m having serious fun. Right at this moment, I can’t think of a better way to spend Friday night than lurching around town on a converted U.S. school bus. A Party Bus. Especially when you’re dancing with a multicultural assortment of fit young guys.
Yes, it demands stamina. (Well, it does when you’re my age…and this manic ride is set to last three hours.) But my favorite motto is “No Surrender.” And, being English, the genes simply don’t allow me to spurn any alcohol-fueled good time.
Acting the shameless hussy, I’ve been dancing/lurching with Panamanians, Americans, and a Swede. But who the hot-bodied guy wearing the woolly hat is, I don’t know. Heaven help me, but this Panamanian Rasta Man is making hip-thrusting gestures in my direction again. Seems that rest for the wicked isn’t an option.
A high booze tolerance and a strong bladder are essential when riding a Chiva Parrandera. Panama’s infamous Party Buses have an open rum-and-seco bar on board. Also expect flashing lights, live musicians, and the disco thump. (If my school bus had been like this, I’d never have left.)
Bar-hopping is part of the experience. We stop at a couple of places on Amador Causeway. I can’t remember if it’s the bar called Play with the back garden pool, but it makes a great foot-spa. Plus it’s a chance to visit a restroom and sink more beer. The 120 cans in our carry-on cooler vanished long ago.
You can join a public Chiva Parrandera for around $25 per person or opt for private hire. That’s what a gang of us from IL did at the Ultimate Event. Hiring an entire bus generally ranges from $540 to $600 for three hours. It includes a hostess, the band, one or two bartenders, and unlimited rum and seco while on board. You should be able to cram in 40 people.
Ours was arranged through tour operator Inside Panama. Another option is www.rumbabuspanama.com. Alternatively, ask your hotel concierge.
Collection and drop-off is from most major hotels. Well, that’s unless the party continues and your more reckless amigos drag you off to investigate the clubbing scene. Have these degenerates forgotten I’ve got an 8.40 a.m. presentation?
Roving Europe Editor (on loan to Panama City), International Living
P.S. Yes, I did get down to the conference room in time–clean, sweet-smelling, and entirely sober. Four hours sleep is plenty.
Editor’s Note: In fact, Steenie’s presentation was one of the highlights of The Ultimate Event II. But don’t take our word for it–we recorded every presentation given by the 90 assembled experts in Panama City. They covered every possible aspect of living overseas. After you’ve heard their briefings, there’s nothing to stop you from making your dream of an international lifestyle come true. Plus, you can listen to them at your leisure…skip around to the presentations that interest you most, take notes… And, more importantly, you can listen to them as many times as you like, so you don’t miss a thing. We call it the Ultimate Event II Review Kit, and as well as the presentation recordings, it includes copies of the hand-outs, PowerPoint, and visual presentations that attendees received at The Ultimate Event II. And you get the 200 pages of information we give to each attendee when they sign in for the conference. Conference attendees paid up to $1,995 each to get this life-changing information…but you can get everything for just $499. Find out more here.
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- No Charm, Bad Food, Low Clouds
- Find the quickest route to enjoying the good life in Panama
- Steenie will speak at the Global Business Opportunities Workshop, Nov. 12-24, 2007, in Denver, Colo. She’ll talk about the writer’s life and give you a prescription for getting started as a travel writer. Plus, she’ll share her insights about the best opportunities in the world for health care workers, IT professionals, import-export entrepreneurs, and more…