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The Other Panama City

Other Panama City -

The real one’s in Panama. As in the country. I’m heading there in a few days.

But the other one? The one in Florida? That one’s crazy. Full of spring breakers drinking and sunning and sleeping and drinking some more. In another lifetime Laura, Mary, Catherine, and I made the trip down south from Virginia on a bus driven by a drug dealer who stored his stash in his head. For real.

We bought our liquor at Liquors, ate eggs for every meal, rooted out nightly drink specials, and played Asshole (a strangely addictive card game). And one morning, the sun barely risen, I crawled out of bed and wandered an empty beach. Gloriously empty.

Why Panama City? The name, I mean. Well, in the first decade of the 20th century, the town of Floriopolis changed names a few times, landing on Panama City, a popular enough place at least in the American imagination, what with the US taking over the Panama Canal project in 1904. (The US opened the canal on August 15, 1914. That’s your history lesson for the day. You’re welcome.)

Based on many of the historically and geographically challenged statements made during this election season, I’d hazard a guess that a good number of Americans think the canal cuts through the Florida panhandle. Looking for sun, sand, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World? Florida here I come! And if you’re wasted during your entire time in Panama City, Florida, you might come away thinking you actually saw vessels sailing through the Miraflores Locks. Second lesson of the day — in the world of conflict resolution, it’s called a win-win.

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