Also known as Los Pueblitos, Mi Pueblito (off Avenida de Los Mártires, 9 A.M.–9 P.M. Tues.–Sun., US$1), literally, “my little town,” is a charming, if idealized, re-creation of a typical Panamanian town on the Azuero Peninsula, Panama’s heartland. The architecture is Spanish colonial, which is especially notable in the red-tile roofs and whitewashed walls, the mission-style church, and the central plaza and fountain.
The builders have included lots of small, loving touches, from the lesson plan on the blackboard of the schoolhouse to the telegraph office that looks as though the operator has just left for a siesta. There’s even a rustic outhouse behind the buildings. Nearby is a small pollera traditional embroidered dress) museum.
The Mi Pueblito complex has been expanded to recognize the traditional dwellings of some of the other peoples of Panama. These are directly across the street from the Spanish colonial village. The first site honors the West Indian immigrants who provided most of the labor force for the building of the Panama Canal. The brightly painted two-story wooden buildings are an extremely fanciful take on what the laborers’ accommodations were really like. A walk through a little forest takes you to more accurate re-creations of the way three indigenous peoples—the Kuna, Emberá-Wounaan, and Ngöbe-Buglé—lived, and in many cases still do.
Mi Pueblito is a bit neglected these days, and unless a tour bus stops by you may be its only visitor. There was once a cute little restaurant on the site, but it recently closed. Admission ostensibly is US$1, but there was no one there to collect it the last I visited. Souvenirs are on sale at shops throughout the complex, and the proprietors are likely to be desperate to make a sale, any sale.
Mi Pueblito is near the base of Cerro Ancón (also known as Ancon Hill), just off the westbound side of Avenida de Los Mártires. It’s a quick right turn off this busy road that’s easy to miss. Taxi drivers should know where it is.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition