Apart from their yellow color they come in all shapes and designs:
Some are badly battered, their original shape molded in a shape never intended by their manufacturers.
This one was missing some necessary parts and the windscreen had suffered some kind of accident but otherwise it was still functioning. The driver treated us on very loud music and the fumes inside the car had us fearing that the exhaust pipe was having some serious problems and was blowing the wrong way. There was no air-conditioning and the car was a mess.
It’s not like this all the time. On the contrary. Many of these cars are well kept, clean and do have air-conditioning. The drivers are usually nice and, of course, there are exceptions, like the ones that are rude or try to rip you off. At first I asked them how much I owed and a couple of times I paid 3 dollars for a certain route until a neighbour told me that the fare for that distance was only 2 dollars. When you find out how much it has to be (ask a Panamanian!) you just hand them the right amount for that route and never ask how much you owe them.
It is not uncommon that you get a taxi driver who tells you “no voy” which means that he has no intention to take you to the place where you want to go. “No voy” is usually mumbled which means guesswork for the innocent tourist who has no clue as to what the taxi guy is trying to get across, but it gets clear enough as the latter pulls up his window and drives off.
Panamanians do love their car horns and some people honk, honk, honk continuously, even for traffic lights – no matter what color those are displaying at the time – at railway crossings, at road bumps, at left or right turns or just for the fun of it.
I must say it is getting better and less noisy in Panama City. Is it possible the government has issued an anti-honking law recently? Would it, if that’s the case, also be possible to teach Panamanian drivers how to use a roundabout?