When my lovely wife and I were first down in Panama eight years ago, we were walking along the causeway on Amador at evening time. We admired a beautiful view of the city, with the entrance to the canal and the Pacific Ocean at our backs. That’s when we noticed that the sun was setting majestically behind the towers. “Hey, wait a minute,” I thought as I felt more than bit disoriented. The world seemed to be spinning a bit off kilter. After all, in my experience the sun usually sets over the Pacific in the west. Ol’Jack knew that things could be different in Panama (That’s why we came—for a change of scenery), but this phenomenon was more than a bit disconcerting. We held each other in a dizzy embrace.
As we’ve come to realize, Panama is a country that runs from west to east or vice versa, with the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south, mostly. Basically, what that means is that there is no horizon for the sun to set behind. Instead of looking like that big orange ball is flattening out as it heads toward fabulous sunsets in Hawaii, the sun looks like it’s headed toward Costa Rica for three days to renew its visitor visa status. While of course you can find some postcard picture-worthy shots of sunsets from some islands, on the mainland there are no Key West-like celebrations of the setting sun. If you haven’t been to Key West, Florida, the folks who live or visit have a festival every evening on Mallory Square complete with street performers and lots of awes and ahs. Their sunsets are a tourist attraction.
There was also a popular restaurant on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where ol’Jack hung out slurping oysters, where they played the 1812 Overture every evening timed perfectly so the cannons went off as the sun disappeared over the edge of the world. It was an event, which people came for and left after.
For the most part in Panama, especially in the mountains, evenings are lovely with bright white fluffy thunderheads surrounded by sky-blue pink. Sometimes, a light cool breeze freshens, as the sun plays hide and seek behind the peaks. The magic hour, when the sun is gone but there is still light before night falls, actually lasts for about an hour.
There is probably a similar situation during the morning called sunrise or lack of same, but ol’Jack has never been up that early to notice.