Panama: The Bad.
Hard to Find Healthy Eats. The pervasive local diet is filled with high carbs and deep fried foods. Words like “Healthy” or “Organic” have yet to enter into the mainstream Panamanian culinary lexicon.
Possible remedy: Go to go to the grocery store more often.
A semi-observant person could fairly accurately predict a Panamanian’s social-economic standing within a few moments.
The social and racial divide is a mark of an uncivilized society. It’s unbecoming of Panama. Especially, for a country that strives to be considered first world.
Possible remedy: Who Pulled Up The Social Ladder
Gringo Price(tax on Caucasian foreigners). In my experience, cab drivers are the most egregious abusers of the Gringo Price. Frequently, cabdrivers will try to charge me double or more for a cab ride. This even after I’ve demonstrated long term status in Panama, and while accompanied by locals.
Gringo Price for foreigners is fairly widespread in Panama.
Possible remedy: Practice negotiating skills.
Answering Cell Phones At Inappropriate Times. At the movies and in business meetings are among some of the inappropriate places cell phones are answered. Not only are calls answered, in fact, it’s likely people will carry on a conversation.
Digicel, Mas Movil, and other communication companies would do a public service by handing out a “Cell Phone Etiquette Guide” with every cell phone.
Possible remedy: Give people the “what-the-hell-are-you-doing” face.
Cutting In Line. Maybe I am too passive. I’m constantly getting cut in front of while waiting in line by everyone; young and old, rich and poor, male and female! It’s annoying.
Possible remedy: hold feet and elbows wider apart and be more human roadblock-esque.
Littering. Public littering is widespread. For evidence, attend a public event like Jazz Fest, parade, or protest. Wait until everyone clears out and heads home. Left behind are mountains of trash.
Possible remedy: Install more trash cans. Also, utilize the special public servant Panamanian mimes who promoting good environmental practices.
Short Sightness. Here is an recent example to illustrate my point:
A buddy of mine goes to a restaurant. There is confusion about an order of rice. My friend believed the rice was included in the meal. He doesn’t want to pay $7.95 for a small dish of rice. Instead of saying, “Sir, sorry about the confusion. Surely, we’ll remove the charge from your bill,” the manager insists on the payment. So, my friend paid for it. He left a disgruntled customer.
This is an example of the short sightness that plagues the Isthmus. Sure, the restaurant made $7.00 extra that day. However, it lost a potential long term customer. That customer would have spent much more than $7 in the future. Not only will my friend will never return, he has told at least 10 people of his negative experience. The restaurant jeopardize potential business his friends as well.
If you gave me an hour, I could list 50 more examples of business short sightness.
Possible remedy: ?
So, to answer the question “Do you like Panama?”, the answer would be yes. Is it perfect? No. Are there things I wish I could change? Claro! (of course). But, is it a cool ass place to live? YES!!!