In a foreign city, the opportunity to wander down a dark alley occupied by a group of local hoodlums might freak out a large number of tourists. But in Casco Viejo, a growing number of visitors are requesting to do just that when they visit us here at Los Cuatro Tulipanes, shunning the comfortably but oh-so-predictable experience of travel in an overly-globalized world. More often than not, opening their eyes to Casco Viejo’s socioeconomic and cultural diversity is a highlight of the trip as a whole.
“This here is where the gang from Fourth Street relocated to when their house fell down,” I told some guests from Manhattan who fell in love with what they called the pre-Soho feel of Casco Viejo. “And over there, under those pilings, there’s this little community of like three or four crackheads. They’re all real characters. Want to go check them out?”
The answer was, of course, a resounding yes. Those guests, among just about everyone else who comes out and walks the streets with us, were not only surprised but somehow enlightened by what they discovered in Casco Viejo. To realize that Panama City is not just high-rises and flashy lifestyles – a bit of grime and edge beyond the window of a tour bus – is to stumble upon the true miracle of travel.
There is perhaps no better medley of Panama than exists in the ten-or-so blocks surrounding Los Cuatro Tulipanes. Come for a walk with us during your stay. You’ll see beauty, age, colors, and textures, traditions, tourists, the wealthy and the impoverished. Such tours offer a rare eye-level look at how people in Panama live, which, according to us, is much more responsible than not looking at all.