Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Oases of the Digital Nomad, Ciudad de Panama

The weekday routine in Ciudad de Panama:

  1. Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head.
  2. Eat breakfast.
  3. GTFO before it gets too hot.
  4. Find an oasis.

Oasis #1: New York Bagel Café, El Cangrejo

The good:

  • Consistent wifi, several accessible power outlets.
  • Tasty, relatively inexpensive food and bottomless coffee.
  • Easy access via the Via España bus line.
  • Loads of expats.

The bad:

  • Loads of expats.
  • Generally terrible music, increasing in volume throughout the day.
  • Impressively unpleasant chairs.

We ended up at the NYBC almost every other day. It was so consistent that it almost became hard to take a chance on something else, knowing we could have a good experience at NYBC.

Einstein’s head, carefully enlarged, preserved, and mounted outside of the NYBC in El Cangrejo.

Oasis #2: Bon Vivant, San Francisco

The good:

  • Reasonable wifi
  • Uncrowded (except during lunch)
  • Excellent food, especially the croissants

The bad:

  • Hard to get to via bus from Parque Lefevre. We ended up walking 3+ miles roundtrip.
  • Packed during lunch. Great for business, but not conducive to tele-working.
  • Relatively expensive food, few vegetarian options.

Bon Vivant was recommended via a response to my inquiry on the “Americans in Panama” Yahoo group. We ended up going there twice - might have been back more often, but it was a bit of a hike to get to from our house in Parque Lefevre. Cutting through Parque Omar Torrijos got us away from the traffic and trash (and uncovered manholes), but a 3+ mile roundtrip in CdP is a lot, especially if you don’t want to be a puddle of sweat at your destination.

Oasis #3: Churreria Manolo, El Cangrejo and Obarrio

The good:

  • Good wifi
  • Extensive menu
  • Uncrowded

The bad:

  • No power outlets (in the El Cangrejo location)
  • Mediocre food
  • Grumpy waitstaff (even for Panama!)

Another recommendation, this time from /r/panama. We went to the Obarrio location in the evening, after a day of walking around and trying to find wifi in one of the big malls downtown. It’s tucked off of Calle 50, and was extremely quiet. IIRC, we were one of only a few patrons, and definitely the only ones with laptops out.

The El Cangrejo location had a better overall vibe, with more customers and a livelier setting in general, although we probably wouldn’t have gone had NYBC not been closed for Carnavales. Which might explain why the waitstaff were a little grumpy - they had to work instead of partying!

Never worked in:

Petit Paris in Marbella. Delicious food…

PSA: Google Maps is just dead wrong about the location of this place. It’s just north of Cinta Costera, in the Marbella neighborhood. The map on their website is accurate.

Never made it to:

Café Sucre and Bajareque in Casco Viejo.