Whatever happened to my debit card?
Well, the original never showed up…but the bank did not seem to want to tell me this until two weeks in to the search and rescue mission. The bottom line is at that point, I had to involve the branch manager at my branch and insist upon her help. Once I did so, things remedied themselves fairly rapidly. That is, if you consider that four Panamanian holidays fell within the five business day turnaround needed for a new card to be ordered and delivered.
Bottom line: new debit card delivered another two weeks later. Total time for this entire debacle (no debit card, no access to new online system (because the new debit card was required to get you signed up): Five weeks!
Bad news in Panama
This entire scenario brings up another very relevant topic for expats in Panama. And that topic is the local’s reticence to share bad news with you.
That’s right: bad news is avoided like the plague. It was evident with what happened to me with my new debit card. The customer service reps did not want to tell me that they either had no news or had bad news, so instead they would tell me nothing.
You can read more about this tendency in The Gringo Guide to Panama: What to Know Before You Go in Chapter 12.
December 8 is Mother’s Day in Panama!
Panama is the only country in the world that celebrates Mother’s Day on December 8. I’m not sure why that’s the case. But when the rest of the world is focused on Christmas trees and wrapping gifts, Panama insists on stopping everything in order to honor its mothers.
December 8 is indeed another national holiday. Everything is closed (except the restaurants) and more importantly for you, all banks and government offices are closed. Yes. It’s another opportunity for the national population (and those of us that live in Panama) to take off work.
I feel certain that mothers in other countries might agree that they would like to be recognized with a national holiday and a day off – versus just a Sunday in the U.S. – I would vote for that!
Panamanians celebrate Mother’s Day much like anywhere else – flowers, gifts and time with family.
Holiday Travel in December from Panama
It’s normal this time of year that the expats begin to clear out and head for home to see family, friends and take some time off work. For those that are long-timers in Panama, many will have family fly in to celebrate the holidays here.
For most expat executives living in Panama, once the international school schedule lets out for Christmas break, there’s a massive exodus for the airport. The same thing happens at Summer break in mid-June through mid-August too.
Our preference – having lived here for seven Christmases now – is to return home to the U.S. for at least a couple of weeks to reconnect with those we haven’t seen in a while. Then we love to come back to New Year’s Eve, when the parties are plentiful and the fireworks are abundant.
No country does fireworks like Panama!