Surf Panama, Chapter II

The two Panamas

Behind a postmodern skyline

Surf Panama by Albert Folch and Dizy Díaz, Chapter II


The population of over 3 million is a contrast in itself: the great majority are mestizos, people of mixed European and Native American descent, or mulattoes, those of European and African heritage. These groups are most present in rural regions and in cities, but a precise evaluation is impossible as racial mixing is so extensive. Panama’s cities contain sizeable minorities of whites from Europe and North America, Asians, Jews, Caribbean blacks, and people of Middle Eastern descent. In some coastal areas, Panamanians of African descent form the majority.


  • "The Miami of the South" is not as it seems: the high-rise skyscrapers of Ciudad de Panamá represent a richness restricted to a bunch of people, not the wellness of the country.

Having landed in Ciudad de Panamá, the scenario is impressive: the towering buildings with their offices and luxury apartments, the postmodern architecture and the massive skyscrapers rising from the Pacific coast make Panama’s skyline the most prominent in Central America. Elegant neighbourhoods, giant shopping malls, international fast-food chains and American businesses are everywhere. Anywhere you look it’s easy to imagine the amount of money that tolls from the Canal poured on this little fiscal paradise.

On the other side, Panama confronts a progressive deterioration of its environmental quality and natural resources, which can turn irreversible if appropriate measures are not taken in time. In Panama City, air pollution, soil erosion and water poisoning exceed international norms of acceptability and they are increasing at a steady pace. It is an immense weight that hangs over future generations.


  • Panama, the smallest country in Central America, is investing much of its resources to improve its mostly lacking urban infrastructures.


But once you are away from the huge avenues and the perfectly paved highways, on your way to the coast and the beautiful Panamanian beaches, a different side of the country is revealed. Down the Casco Viejo, the old town, Panama City shows another soul. The heartbeat of the colonial Panama, the second rebuilding that the city has gone through – after the first settlement back in 1519 – for many years has been considered a slum with its troubled neighbourhood, its stinking and narrow streets and the Spanish-like old buildings, mostly in states of decay. That teeming ghetto, densely populated by people that make less than minimum wage with entire families crowded into one-room apartments, is now disappearing little by little, as the Casco Viejo area is being slowly renovated and restored.

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Photography. Dizy Díaz
Words. Vincenzo Angileri / Eldorado

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Albert Folch

Albert Folch

Surfer and Art director
Founder and creative director from Folch, a graphic design agency based in Barcelona working for the most prestigious national and international clients. Albert was one of the founders of the acclaimed Apartamento magazine. Partner of the new footwear brand Deux Souliers, he is behind the erotic publication Odiseo and Eldorado, one of his most ambitious projects. Beside his creative skills, he is a nature lover and he is absolutely addicted to surf.
Dizy Díaz

Dizy Díaz

Surfer and Photographer
Local surfer from Playa de Sta. Marina (Ribadesella, Asturias) and freelance photographer, Dizy uses analogue photography as a form of expression. He sees the imperfection of film and the dirt of grain as something truly authentic. When he was 15, 'Paris-Texas' by Wim Wenders changed his way of seeing the things around him. In that moment, he choose photography as a travel mate for the rest of his life. His first work as a photographer was a portrait of the city of his birth, which represents a strong influence in the aesthetics of his photography.
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