Buying weed in the back alleys of Panama City is not for the faint hearted. But the fabled Panama Red, one of the first ‘name brands’ of dope and made famous by the New Riders of the Purple Sage song, beckoned. So the first thing you do in Panama City is look to score.
You start at a sleazy bar in the aptly-named ‘Sal Si Puedes’ (get out if you can) neighborhood, down by the docks. We sat down with our beers and started to scope out the bar loungers. The dealers would already be sizing us up. We looked promising.
“Psst, you need anything?” “Weed?” “Yah, man”. “Let me see”. “Oh man, not here. Out back, in the alley.” Out we went.
He flashed a paper bag that looked right. “$20 dollars.” I pulled the note out of my pocket and handed it over. He shoved the bag in my hands. Just then a figure loomed up from the shadows. “Policia! Let’s get out of here.” Off he bolted, the figure disappeared back into the gloom and I was left holding the bag. A bag full of crumpled up newspaper. We’d been had.
Hot, un-stoned, $20 poorer and pissed off. “What a rip-off! This place sucks.”
But then the sweet aroma wafted out from another alley. We peered in. A dude in dreads was puffing a giant spliff. He offered us a toke. Felt better already.
“Mon you need anything?” “Weed”. “Right here, $20”.
Another paper bag. Only this one was filled with about a dozen tight, well-cured, red-haired buds. We’d stumbled onto the mother lode. A few minutes (and a few puffs) later, it was “Isn’t Panama great, so mellow…I could stay here forever.” The fabled Panama Red lived up to its reputation.
The buds were beautiful, carefully manicured with the red hairs accented. The pot was cured nicely with a rich brownish / reddish hue and exuded a rich earthy aroma. Not quite as sticky as the fresher spears, the Panama Red was mature and quite potent. No seeds what-so-ever, just flowers and pistles covered in dried resin. Hardly any stems. Whoever grew / packed this stuff knew what they were doing.
Each bud weighed maybe two or three grams, enough for five or so stocky joints. We figured that we got close to an ounce for $20…the US dollar is the currency in Panama. Not cheap, but worth every cent. One joint would keep the four of us zoned for most of the day.