Getting Along with Panama and Panamanians

The First Rule: You are a Guest and so Behave Like a Guest.

This is not your country. Many, many things will be different and some of those things will delight you and other things will really frustrate you. But like any good guest, don't criticize your host, at least not to his face. And realize that just because things are done differently here, there are reasons-historical, socio-cultural reasons. Patience is important but so also is the sophistication to accept and moreover enjoy that countries just really are different.

Getting Along With Panamanians

This is not difficult! Panamanians are some of the most friendly and easy going people anywhere. To a person, they readily respond to manners, kindness and respect. Foreigners will tell you that what they love most about Panama are its people. If you treat people well, everywhere you go you'll receive smiles and gentle graciousness. You can go about your daily errands in a circle of friendliness. The exceptions are government bureaucrats. And even they will often respond when treated with genuine respect and consideration.

Try hard not to lose your temper in any situation- then you just look like an "ugly American".

Panama been an international crossroads for a long time. It is a multiracial, multicultural society, yet they know to get along amongst themselves. Some lessons to be learned there.

Dress Well

You would think that in a hot humid country people would dress down and dress simply. Think again. Panama City especially is a dress-up town. Even the weekends you will almost never find a Panamanian man or woman in Bermuda shorts or t-shirts. They will forgive you as a foreigner for your shorts and t-shirts- but better to dress up a bit. Better dressed people are treated better.

You will also notice that both men and women are impeccably groomed. When in Rome...

Be A Model Citizen and Don't Bribe

Panama is not Mexico and so there's no need to bribe policeman. If a cop stops you for something you have done, do your part to reduce corruption by just accepting your ticket. No reason to bribe anyone actually.

Be Thoughtful and Generous

The common people really are poor, even the middle class is poor by US standards. Therefore don't hesitate to be generous in your pay and your tips. It will mean a lot to them and their family- a whole lot more than those few dollars mean to you.