You Know You Live in Panama When…you move to Panama and…

Sometimes even blue Panama skies can't improve your mood.

Once in a while, I have a bad Panama day. When you move to Panama, you will have a day or two when everything culturally different collides around you with a bang, and all the idiosyncrasies of the country rub the wrong way.

It’s a day like thatwhen what I’d really like is to lose myself for an hour at SuperTarget, and drink a suburban Starbucks. (That’s my version of an island escape…)

But, that’s not the life we’ve chosen. We chose this quirky little country. So, to keep myself sane today, I’ve crafted a list of funny Panama things. It’s not quite Saturday Night Live, but well, here we go.

The Top Three of “You Know You’re in Panama…”

  • When it’s not necessary to pull off the road when a police car comes up behind you with flashing lights. Nope, you just keep driving. You can also pass a police car here, without fear.
  • When you see the local ladies walking down the street with their umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. It’s a strange sight for a few years, then somehow it becomes cute.
  • When the workers who swore they would arrive no later than 6:30 a.m. show up closer to 10 a.m., without apology. (And never mind that you came in specifically to meet them, so the work would not impact your co-workers or your clients. Never mind that.)

Living in Panama as a foreigner requires a great deal of flexibility, patience and most importantly, a good sense of humor. Opportunities abound every single day to learn, to appreciate, and to laugh.

When frustration hits, which it will, get a copy of my  books on Amazon  to read more of these types of living in Panama realities.  (And you can read a few more quirky things that may get under your skin in the book too….and how to learn to relax!) The other seven from this list (which makes it a true Top Ten can be read in The Gringo Guide to Panama II: More to Know Before You Go which just came out on January 5, 2014 in paperback!)

At least, you’ll be able to laugh along the way.  With this little exercise, I’m smiling again!

Halloween in Panama: Where Did All The Ghouls Go?

Halloween in Panama

Halloween in Panama I read somewhere in the past month that the Halloween holiday is now the most-celebrated holiday in the U.S.  Hmmmm. I find that interesting, because that certainly wasn’t the case when we left the States five years ago.

Yes, it was celebrated.  By both adults and kids alike.  I always felt like Halloween was more for kids, but then at the same time, I recall multiple costume parties where we participated with major celebration (with all of our adult friends).

Halloween was always a big deal for us growing up in the U.S., and even for our children, with activities in the suburb we lived in at the church, at their school, and even at area malls.  For the university crowd, it’s a cultural phenomenon to party on campus or at area bars and restaurants.

What About Halloween in Panama?

So, what about Halloween in Panama?  First, one of the big challenges of bringing up kids in Panama is that you’re always looking for things to do.  Halloween is no exception.  Or, perhaps I should say, that the events and activities are more focused in small areas, versus widespread.

For school-aged children, you’ll find that Halloween is mostly limited to at-school activities, with a few at-home parties hosted by one family or another.  Invitees are usually specific to the grade of the party-thrower.  For teenagers, it’s the same thing.  I haven’t heard of one costume party here for kids in the past week.  In the States, there would be at least 50 invitations, and some we’d have to turn down!

For the crowd that’s of age (and in Panama, the drinking age is 18), a few bars will have a dress-up costume night out.  But, again, I’ve seen one ad in the English speaking newspaper.  One tour company is doing a Canal cruise and you must have a costume to get on board.  And that’s the extent of it.


Read more about Halloween in Panama in my second book that’s just been published on Amazon Kindle (as of December 2013).  It’s titled The Gringo Guide to Panama: More to Know Before You Go and is an accompaniment with this, and more about holidays in Panama and how they are different for expats.  Enjoy!