Belize was a highway hugging nation. After crossing through the Mexican border at Chetumal the bus slowly rumbled deeper into the country via the northern highway which doubled as main streets and suburban avenues for every town, village or single house municipality along the way. It was now night, but even in the darkness locals loitered outside the buildings and houses devoid of anything to pass the time with. Elderly couples sat on their porches or stoops watching the evening traffic pass by. Youths huddled in groups sharing cigarettes and children ran amongst them, chasing balls, cats, chickens, dogs or each other. Basically anything that moved away from them.
If ever a city embodied the contrast of Central America’s past and possible future it is Panama City, Panama. Stand in the middle of the Avenue Balboa – the main throughway hugging the water of Bahia de Panama – and look right; you see the colonial past of Casco Viejo. Look left and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Dubai, with a multitude of high rise buildings shooting skywards at a rapid rate as retired Americans and foreign investors move in.