Drove across the isthmus to see the canal from the Caribbean side. Also wanted to the town of Colon, which is known for its shopping, having a tax-free zone. The propaganda I read talked up Colon pretty good...but it turned out to be a dump. Didn´t even feel comfortable enough to go walking about the town...not that I was afraid mind you but just didn´t see much reason to get out of my Chevy Spark rental car. The Spark was so small I could probably have flipped it on its side singlehandedly if I´d wanted...but it served to get me over and back and around Panama City for a day. Since Colon didn´t turn out to be much I took a little drive down the Caribbean coast to see Portabelo and the old Spanish fort. Not much there, but beautiful beaches...not hard to see why so many foreigners are retiring down here given the beaches and low cost of living (Big Mac value meal is $3.40 including tax). Also doesn´t hurt that they use dollars.
Panama is actually experiencing quite a real estate boom, thanks largely in part to foreign buyers. The skyline in PC is already quite impressive and there are quite a few skyscrapers going up...apparently one is being built from which you´ll be able to see both oceans on a clear day. For me, it´s hard not to think they are overbuilding though, given the global economic climate now.