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22 Lessons About Panama

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 15:37

Twenty two Panama travel, site investment, and lifestyle lessons from a twenty-nine year old who’s spent twenty percent of his life getting to know a some 500 year old country.

The best deals in Panama are taxis, pineapples, and in-house masseuses.

If more than two people have told you about an up-and-coming place to buy real estate in Panama, chances are, it’s not up-and-coming anymore.

I have found that for most Panamanians, family is the most important anchor in their lives. Second is friends and third is the weekend.

When I look at the developing Panamanian landscape, I never learn anything about the past. It is almost all about the future.

The best places to eat fried fish are El Chorillo, Santa Clara, and Playa La Angosta on the Caribbean side. In that order.

Foreigners who self-identify with Panamanian employees tend to get more productivity. There’s a certain kind of foreigner who wants to be generous and give all employees the benefit of the doubt, always. They have trouble succeeding: sadly, the nicest kinds of foreigner entrepreneurs are the worst ones.

While Catholicism may appear, at face value, to steer Panamanian society, corruption is more authentic.

Dollar bills are the best bills to carry in Panama. Hundreds are the worst.

Diplomats in Panama are permitted, at police checkpoints, to pass without blowing.

There is no rivalry between Panama and Costa Rica. I guess they kind of see themselves as both hating Mexico.

My definition for Panama’s success is a combination of sustainable growth practices combined with lucrative low-hanging fruit. On a scale of 1-100, I think Panama’s process is at an 81.

Downtown Panama City is, at times, both the best and the worst capital in Central America.

America taught me to save money so that I could retire early and move to Florida. Panama taught me that there is no time like the present; that I should enjoy life as it happens; that laughing and crying and relaxing and eating guanabana are all part of a fulfilling day.

The cut-off for waiting in a Panamanian line is 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take a deep breath and try again another time.

The interior of Panama is the most special part of the country. And since everyone seems obsessed with developing the Republic’s capital, the interior enjoys a nice discreet resting spot apart from all the bells and whistles.

The best deals in Panama are taxis, pineapples, and in-house masseuses.

If you are willing to move to the interior, it is possible to live on a few hundred dollars a month.

The only way Panama will truly become a smarter, safer, and more competitive place is with better education. Without it, none of the astronomical growth means all that much.

No one in Panama makes wine but someone should.

I don’t like getting charged more because I am a gringo. But I am willing to overlook it considering the special treatment I receive.

When I read Panamanian newspapers, I can always tell their political agenda. I appreciate this transparency much more than when newspapers try to pretend to be unbiased.

To fully identify with Panamanian pride and patriotism, you must watch the national soccer team play at home.

Making friends and doing business in Panama is a lot like attending a US high school. Because of my prior experience in high school, I have had reasonable success in Panama.

What lessons have you learned about Panama in your time here? 


Comments (4)Add Comment
written by AMI , December 13, 2011
what a great list! i can add "learn to pick out fake buts on colombian hookers" and "learn to tell when someone is going to be late"
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love the site!
written by Lorelei Kusin , June 20, 2012
hey Matt, we miss you and Casco! you are "spot on", love reading this!!! JB and Lorelei
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Panama New Business
written by Mike Menkes , June 28, 2012
I am thoroughly enjoying my initial 16-day stay near El Valle. The people, parades, markets, manicured neighbor estates, cool nights and mud baths are longevity-enhancing.

I am establishing a new business and I will love to hear do's/don'ts in Panama.
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Some Additional Items
written by ClintFromNYtoVA(to Panama) , November 08, 2014
You may be an above average driver but you are not mentally and physically prepared to drive in Panama City on any day other than Sunday.

The religion of the people in Panama is every gringo has a million dollars, therefore if you dont want to pay gringo prices, find a trusted Panamanian to negotiate for you.

Use care as most Panamanians will say I have a friend who can help you accomplish what you want. The refer gets a kickback and the person doing the work may not be qualified. Always get referrals from other expats.

In David there is a traffic pattern that allows oncoming traffic through what should be a red light. Always turn into the near lane when making a left turn or risk learning the hard way. On the other side of this strange equation, only the left lane with the Red Traffic Light need stop.

Unless you really need a live in maid, it is cheaper, safer, and less hassle to have someone come say twice a month to clean your home.

An honest, skilled, and hard working Panamanian that you can trust is hard to find so do what it takes to keep them.

If you find yourself in a jam money can buy your way out of it, otherwise you will have to spend time instead. It is possible to bribe anyone here but it is getting increasingly difficult to bribe the police. The way to do it is to ask if you can pay the fine now. Stick to the tourist who doesn't understand Spanish routine to buy your way out with time and you can usually wear them down.

Taxis are bargains here. From Albrook if you walk halfway to the bus stop they will stop and offer you almost half off.

All major car rental companies will force insurance on you. Sixt and other minors wont. A dented fender cost me $250 which was fair. If I had time I probably could have had it fixed for less than $100.

Panamanian Blackjack has the most favorable odds in the world. You can double after the first hit if you get 9,10, or 11.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 17:29