People not familiar with Panama have expressed concern that we wouldn’t have everything we need here. So, I decided to take some pictures in a few of the stores near us. We have some very nice shopping options near us.
We live in David, the second largest city in Panama. There is a large expat community in Boquete and many of those people come down here to shop. We are also close to the Costa Rica border so many people from there come here to take advantage of lower prices. David itself is a fast growing city with construction and growth everywhere you look.
We live on the north side of the city not far from the Pan-American Highway and the El Terronal shopping area where these photos were taken. Stores don’t usually allow photos (not sure why) so I couldn’t pull out my camera everywhere I wanted to but at least you can get a little idea.
First, lets go visit Arrocha. The main floor has a good pharmacy, personal care items, lots of makeup and beauty items, and kitchen and housewares. The second floor has office and craft supplies, tons of toys and baby related things, some more housewares and bath related things, phone and electronic accessories, some luggage, DVD’s, and a place to get photos printed and get passport and other ID photos taken.
After Arrocha, we headed to another big store in the complex – Conway. The first floor has a lot of women’s clothes and accessories. The second floor has men’s and children’s clothes. The third floor has furniture, housewares, and a whole lot of kitchen things. There is also a little restaurant with a beautiful view of the hills beyond.
There are three large supermarkets within a block of each other in this shopping area. I visited two of them with my camera. The first one is Super 99. There is an older Super 99 on the south side of town, but this one here is very new and very large. We don’t go there very often because there is limited parking unless you go up to the parking garage above the store, and it’s a bit congested in the street you need to use to get there. We also established a bit of a routine before it was opened and rarely need to go there for something we can’t find elsewhere.
Next, we paid a visit to Super Baru. This is a smaller store with narrower aisles and no high ceilings, but it is one of our favorites. They tend to offer more unusual items and imported things that you can’t find in other stores. We generally don’t buy produce in supermarkets, preferring the road side vegetable stands, but if we do Baru has the best selection and price.
The third supermarket is El Rey (no photos, maybe next time). This is where we do most of our shopping since it’s on our side of the highway, has plenty of parking, and we know our way around it the best.
I suppose it’s like anywhere you live. You know this store has the best deals on chicken, but that one has that particular spice you need. You develop your favorite stores and pick one of them depending on what is on your list. You may not be able to find exactly the same item or brand here that you got used to in the US, but chances are you can find something similar or something new to suit your needs.
If there is something you really want to have on hand and you see it, buy a whole lot of it because it may not be there next time. We thought this was a joke but it is really true! Sometimes random things just disappear not to be seen again for a week, a few months, or ever and no one can explain why this is. We like Morton’s Nature’s Seasons seasoning blend. It disappeared for well over a year. As soon as I brought a few bottles back from the US, it reappeared. Pricesmart was out of Joel’s favorite bacon for quite a while (it is back now and we have a lot in the freezer).
But, in general, I can’t say we lack for a thing. There is a lot of your familiar US brand food available here, and you can find whatever you need for your household. Maybe everything isn’t exactly like you are used to, but the Panamanians have been getting by for many generations so I figure we can too.