Admittedly it's 3 years since I was last in Panama
, when we stayed for around 14 months. Cruising the San Blas, in Shelter bay and anchored on the Flats.
Yes we heard all the horror stories, both from cruiser's and locals. Certainly there are no-go areas in Colon as there are in all cities throughout the world.
We bought a car whilst there, am old beater, and I regularly drove, alone, from Shelter bay into town. Did all the shopping
, went to lunch etc etc. I NEVER had a moments fear, not once. Yes there are guys with big guns
on every corner, just like the rest of Central America
, but when I broke down once in a very iffy part of Colon everyone was so helpful.
I'm over 50, white and female!! I never tried to jog through the town, used taxis when we were visiting immigration offices etc and didn't look well-heeled. Maybe I was lucky, maybe it ain't that bad.
Sure if you want to be well dressed, flash a wad then this is not the place for you. If you can keep your eyes open and listen to real local knowledge I don't see why you need to be so afraid. It's not a beautiful place but over the time we spent there I grew very fond of Colon and its inhabitants. What a pity to miss it.
As I say, maybe it's all changed, I really hope not!