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Marcelyn

Changes in Behavior toward Gringos?

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15 hours ago, Brundageba said:

Rare to see this kind of homelessness in Panama.

One could argue that the homes of indigenous residents here are on par with those of the homeless in Hawaii. In that sense, homelessness is Panama is widespread.

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Returning for a moment to the original post, the one that initiated this discussion, I have never experienced what Marcelyn described. I'm sure there are isolated incidents of discourtesy, but I have found Panamanians to be almost universally polite and helpful in a way rarely experienced back home. There was the woman who chased me down in the parking lot of a grocery store in David to return the cedula I had left at checkout, and there was the driver who led me in his car to my destination all the way across David when I had simply asked for directions. The incident I recall most fondly is the young man who sprinted across the street from Melo, unbidden, to bodily remove my husband from our car and carry him into Dr. Chen's clinic when I was unable to do so. I don't doubt that expats and their financial resources have engendered a degree of resentment, but I have never seen it manifested in the behavior of Panamanians.

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43 minutes ago, Bonnie said:

One could argue that the homes of indigenous residents here are on par with those of the homeless in Hawaii. In that sense, homelessness is Panama is widespread.

Agree.   In Hawaii, it's lack of space.  Homeless are forced into the public arena and common public bathrooms and showers at beaches.   Those facilities are plentiful there....but so are bad attitudes from those folks and it could well be drug related.

There is no comparison when it comes to just basic kindness and regard for others here among Panamanian citizens of all economic classes.  It is immediately noticeable.  That said, we are seeing a growth of gang-punk mentality that goes along with drugs and crime here. 

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1 hour ago, Bonnie said:

Returning for a moment to the original post, the one that initiated this discussion, I have never experienced what Marcelyn described. I'm sure there are isolated incidents of discourtesy, but I have found Panamanians to be almost universally polite and helpful in a way rarely experienced back home. There was the woman who chased me down in the parking lot of a grocery store in David to return the cedula I had left at checkout, and there was the driver who led me in his car to my destination all the way across David when I had simply asked for directions. The incident I recall most fondly is the young man who sprinted across the street from Melo, unbidden, to bodily remove my husband from our car and carry him into Dr. Chen's clinic when I was unable to do so. I don't doubt that expats and their financial resources have engendered a degree of resentment, but I have never seen it manifested in the behavior of Panamanians.

We agree. In general, the Panamanian people are very courteous.  ( Except for many drivers!!) Marcelyn may have as you say, experienced an incident or two that is not of the norm!

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Bud here.

It seems to me that the underlying message of Marcelyn's initial posting in this topic is being lost. In the incidents originally mentioned I was the driver. Marcelyn has her license but prefers not to drive if it can be avoided.  (Maybe it is a kind of "Driving Miss Daisy" thing? :$)

Note that I have been in Panama for 17+ years. I have many (as in MANY) stories I could tell about unsolicited acts of kindness on the part of the Panamanians. To me, it was very noticeable from the git-go because of the contrast between the US and Panama in this regard. Those acts of kindness continue to this day.

Along the same line of thought is how many Panamanians will recall a person's name, without aid of a database lookup or accessing their cell phone address book. That is a characteristic that I find almost uniquely Panamanian. Only one example here for instance: many years ago while at MultiPlaza in PC I purchased a vacuum packing machine at a kitchen utensil store. I still have and use that machine on a frequent basis. Well, about a year later I went back to the same store in PC to purchase more supplies for that machine. As I walked in the store -- one year later, and having been in the store only one prior time -- the same lady behind behind the cash register saw me, smiled, and then immediately said, "Good afternoon Mr. Huber. How is your machine working and how can I help you?" I was stunned. That is not the only time that I have experienced such.

Well, back now to the main reason for posting here. I have had only a few incidents as originally written about in Marcelyn's posting. And never before the finger treatment. I/we could be wrong, but the underlying issue is that we sense that the attitudes are changing, albeit slowly, but they are changing. We are not suggesting that this is a thoroughly documented and well-analyzed trend, but only that we sense things are slowly beginning to change. None of us individually cause this or can turn it around. We are simply putting on the table the thought that maybe we are witnessing the beginning of a "mega-trend", and in this case an undesirable one.

Just my thoughts here about what we perceive as "something may be changing in the attitude towards expats". Look at the title that Marcelyn used for her posting.

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24 minutes ago, Bud said:

 “something may be changing in the attitude towards expats".

You will notice it a lot more if Zulay Rodriguez and her xenophobic followers form the next government.

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1 hour ago, Bud said:

Well, back now to the main reason for posting here. I have had only a few incidents as originally written about in Marcelyn's posting. And never before the finger treatment. I/we could be wrong, but the underlying issue is that we sense that the attitudes are changing, albeit slowly, but they are changing. We are not suggesting that this is a thoroughly documented and well-analyzed trend, but only that we sense things are slowly beginning to change. None of us individually cause this or can turn it around. We are simply putting on the table the thought that maybe we are witnessing the beginning of a "mega-trend", and in this case an undesirable one.

Just my thoughts here about what we perceive as "something may be changing in the attitude towards expats". Look at the title that Marcelyn used for her posting.

And my reason for posting was to share that I have not experienced any "changing in the attitude toward expats" by Panamanians. I think your experience was an isolated one.

Edited by Bonnie

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Bud, I'm going to use your incident to make even more sure not to become the "ugly American", and have no problem asking a gringo to cut it out when they are being disrespectful to Panamanians.  I think it just takes a few idiots to quickly make it bad for all of us here.   The people who flipped you off may have just had dealings with a gringo that made mad at all of us.  Not fair, but I know it can happen.    Arguing with clerks, demanding someone "hurry up", bad road manners (even though locals can do that, I think we cannot), etc. are things that give us a bad name.  We all need more patience here when dealing with individuals, it IS an asset in Panama.  I think the Panamanians are very sweet, accepting people, in general.  But, just like us, they have a few stinkers.

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Bonnie said

" And my reason for posting was to share that I have not experienced any "changing in the attitude toward expats" by Panamanians. I think your experience was an isolated one."

I agree with both Bud and as well Palo Alto Jo.  I do believe there's a slow change occurring as Bud mentioned.  We had an attorney that we really liked (...even gave a pretty nice wedding gift to that person).  Anyway...at the last gasp when our E Cedula was getting completed, the fee was more than doubled.   We of course asked why.  The answer was "expenses incurred in Panama City".  OK so we asked for an itemized invoice.   The response we received was beyond rude but was very much directed at us as being Gringos  stated very specifically and extremely negatively.  We were astounded and as well hurt to say the least ( did I mention angry as well?) .    This attorney must have had negative experiences with foreigners.  As well this attorney felt it AOK to double a fee on the Gringo client then react when we balked.  OK so that attorney lost a client.  This is an experience that's hard to forget...and as well explain.   I realize that we can't generalize....and won't.  Panamanians are still very special in the eyes of my husband and myself.

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3 hours ago, Brundageba said:

Bonnie said

" And my reason for posting was to share that I have not experienced any "changing in the attitude toward expats" by Panamanians. I think your experience was an isolated one."

I agree with both Bud and as well Palo Alto Jo.  I do believe there's a slow change occurring as Bud mentioned.  We had an attorney that we really liked (...even gave a pretty nice wedding gift to that person).  Anyway...at the last gasp when our E Cedula was getting completed, the fee was more than doubled.   We of course asked why.  The answer was "expenses incurred in Panama City".  OK so we asked for an itemized invoice.   The response we received was beyond rude but was very much directed at us as being Gringos  stated very specifically and extremely negatively.  We were astounded and as well hurt to say the least ( did I mention angry as well?) .    This attorney must have had negative experiences with foreigners.  As well this attorney felt it AOK to double a fee on the Gringo client then react when we balked.  OK so that attorney lost a client.  This is an experience that's hard to forget...and as well explain.   I realize that we can't generalize....and won't.  Panamanians are still very special in the eyes of my husband and myself.

Sorry, but I just don't see a change. Panamanians have been taking advantage of gringos at least since I arrived 11 years ago. They love having us here to take advantage of economically. Boquete now enjoys the same minimum wage as Panama City and David, so the locals clearly have benefited in this regard, as well as with increased employment opportunities. Panamanians I have spoken with are grateful for this.  I'm inclined to attribute the isolated incidents of rudeness to bad apples and to expat misbehavior. And if the Panamanians are, in fact, becoming xenophobic, they certainly are not alone. At this moment it's a worldwide trend.

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14 hours ago, Bonnie said:

Sorry, but I just don't see a change. Panamanians have been taking advantage of gringos at least since I arrived 11 years ago. They love having us here to take advantage of economically. Boquete now enjoys the same minimum wage as Panama City and David, so the locals clearly have benefited in this regard, as well as with increased employment opportunities. Panamanians I have spoken with are grateful for this.  I'm inclined to attribute the isolated incidents of rudeness to bad apples and to expat misbehavior. And if the Panamanians are, in fact, becoming xenophobic, they certainly are not alone. At this moment it's a worldwide trend.

True that!

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I am a newcomer to this forum, but I felt the need to respond. I lived in Chiriqui for more than ten years. I have been back in the US for two years. I've lived in other countries and traveled the world extensively. Like Bonnie, above, I never saw much of a change over the years. I found the Panamanians to be duplicit, mostly indifferent and sometimes hostile. Perhaps because I came to expect rude behavior early on, it was a self perpetuating thing. For the record, I do speak Spanish, and I lived in David in a regular Panamanian neighborhood. Later I moved 'up' (literally and figuratively) to Boquete.

Many attribute it to a 'lack of service mentality'. And this certainly impacts people who dine out or frequent the economy. But I honestly felt less resentment and coldness when I lived in the Middle East. And, again, having spent so much of my life in other cultures, I am well acquainted with adjusting to them. It was not about my protected little white hiney being all over sensitive.

Back in the USA, I am blown away. The politeness of my fellow citizens is an incredible change for me. Reverse culture shock. "After you." "No, please, after you." I live in a moderately large city and I can leave things like bikes and gas cans and hoses just right outside--there for the picking. Days go by without hearing someone blow a horn. I renewed my driver's license and people at the DMV smiled at me. They went out of their way to make it easy.

I am that one who calls a spade a spade. I spent a decade in Panama being told by one and all that it was all 'cultural'. I call horse pucky. Bureaucracy is one thing. I have spent hours and hours of my life elsewhere on this planet sipping tea and waiting. But there was tea. And idle conversation. And lots of smiles.

In Panama, the delight I could read as I was sent hither and yon for yet another piece of 'proof' was astounding. The times I was simply told something, however incorrect, just to get me out of the way are beyond counting. Exchanging a bed spread at Conway's took an army of supervisors. I became accustomed to fetching my own condiments, to chasing the joven for a glass of water and tissue paper for napkins in all but the priciest of restaurants. Perhaps I define a culture in a far different way than most, but stubbornness and willful ignorance are a sad thing to have to 'accept' because that's just the way it is. 

And so I left. So, y'all don't even have to go there. I gave it a good try. Spent the time and saw the breathtaking beauty. Made some friends I will keep. I could even envision living there again, only with no illusions.

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1 hour ago, Lilly said:

I am a newcomer to this forum, but I felt the need to respond. I lived in Chiriqui for more than ten years. I have been back in the US for two years. I've lived in other countries and traveled the world extensively. Like Bonnie, above, I never saw much of a change over the years. I found the Panamanians to be duplicit, mostly indifferent and sometimes hostile. Perhaps because I came to expect rude behavior early on, it was a self perpetuating thing. For the record, I do speak Spanish, and I lived in David in a regular Panamanian neighborhood. Later I moved 'up' (literally and figuratively) to Boquete.

Many attribute it to a 'lack of service mentality'. And this certainly impacts people who dine out or frequent the economy. But I honestly felt less resentment and coldness when I lived in the Middle East. And, again, having spent so much of my life in other cultures, I am well acquainted with adjusting to them. It was not about my protected little white hiney being all over sensitive.

Back in the USA, I am blown away. The politeness of my fellow citizens is an incredible change for me. Reverse culture shock. "After you." "No, please, after you." I live in a moderately large city and I can leave things like bikes and gas cans and hoses just right outside--there for the picking. Days go by without hearing someone blow a horn. I renewed my driver's license and people at the DMV smiled at me. They went out of their way to make it easy.

I am that one who calls a spade a spade. I spent a decade in Panama being told by one and all that it was all 'cultural'. I call horse pucky. Bureaucracy is one thing. I have spent hours and hours of my life elsewhere on this planet sipping tea and waiting. But there was tea. And idle conversation. And lots of smiles.

In Panama, the delight I could read as I was sent hither and yon for yet another piece of 'proof' was astounding. The times I was simply told something, however incorrect, just to get me out of the way are beyond counting. Exchanging a bed spread at Conway's took an army of supervisors. I became accustomed to fetching my own condiments, to chasing the joven for a glass of water and tissue paper for napkins in all but the priciest of restaurants. Perhaps I define a culture in a far different way than most, but stubbornness and willful ignorance are a sad thing to have to 'accept' because that's just the way it is. 

And so I left. So, y'all don't even have to go there. I gave it a good try. Spent the time and saw the breathtaking beauty. Made some friends I will keep. I could even envision living there again, only with no illusions.

 

Lilly,

 

The poor service in Panama used to irritate me until I realized that it keeps the cost of living low.  If you want good service go to Costa Rica and pay a lot more.  Costa Rica has ten times the tourism than Panama.

 

 

 

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something may be changing in the attitude towards expats".

It's also pretty obvious from reading comments here, and on other social media, that there's certainly a lot of disdain by some extranjeros of the local population, the services they provide, and the decisions they make.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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37 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

It's also pretty obvious from reading comments here, and on other social media, that there's certainly a lot of disdain by some extranjeros of the local population, the services they provide, and the decisions they make.

 

You're 100% correct Keith, some people make the assumption that Panama will be like their homeland or any other place.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Keith Woolford said:

It's also pretty obvious from reading comments here, and on other social media, that there's certainly a lot of disdain by some extranjeros of the local population, the services they provide, and the decisions they make.

I have written earlier that, on the whole, I find Panamanians to be polite and helpful. I rarely have been treated badly on a personal level and most times have been treated extraordinarily well by individual Panamanians. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have “disdain” for many of the country's “decisions,” if I understand what you mean by this. Poor infrastructure planning, atrocious customer service, inadequate inventory control, a laughable criminal justice system, and the like may be cultural, but they should not be found acceptable—here, in Canada, in the United States, or anywhere else in the world. A mark of development for nations is advances in these areas. There are countries with a history similar to Panama’s that  have made great strides when Panama has not.

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3 hours ago, Lilly said:

I am a newcomer to this forum, but I felt the need to respond. I lived in Chiriqui for more than ten years. I have been back in the US for two years. I've lived in other countries and traveled the world extensively. Like Bonnie, above, I never saw much of a change over the years. I found the Panamanians to be duplicit, mostly indifferent and sometimes hostile. Perhaps because I came to expect rude behavior early on, it was a self perpetuating thing. For the record, I do speak Spanish, and I lived in David in a regular Panamanian neighborhood. Later I moved 'up' (literally and figuratively) to Boquete.

Many attribute it to a 'lack of service mentality'. And this certainly impacts people who dine out or frequent the economy. But I honestly felt less resentment and coldness when I lived in the Middle East. And, again, having spent so much of my life in other cultures, I am well acquainted with adjusting to them. It was not about my protected little white hiney being all over sensitive.

Back in the USA, I am blown away. The politeness of my fellow citizens is an incredible change for me. Reverse culture shock. "After you." "No, please, after you." I live in a moderately large city and I can leave things like bikes and gas cans and hoses just right outside--there for the picking. Days go by without hearing someone blow a horn. I renewed my driver's license and people at the DMV smiled at me. They went out of their way to make it easy.

I am that one who calls a spade a spade. I spent a decade in Panama being told by one and all that it was all 'cultural'. I call horse pucky. Bureaucracy is one thing. I have spent hours and hours of my life elsewhere on this planet sipping tea and waiting. But there was tea. And idle conversation. And lots of smiles.

In Panama, the delight I could read as I was sent hither and yon for yet another piece of 'proof' was astounding. The times I was simply told something, however incorrect, just to get me out of the way are beyond counting. Exchanging a bed spread at Conway's took an army of supervisors. I became accustomed to fetching my own condiments, to chasing the joven for a glass of water and tissue paper for napkins in all but the priciest of restaurants. Perhaps I define a culture in a far different way than most, but stubbornness and willful ignorance are a sad thing to have to 'accept' because that's just the way it is. 

And so I left. So, y'all don't even have to go there. I gave it a good try. Spent the time and saw the breathtaking beauty. Made some friends I will keep. I could even envision living there again, only with no illusions.

Interesting feedback.

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It does not work for everybody to live in another country.  If you can not adapt to differences then it's real easy to find fault with almost everything and develop a chip on your shoulder. 

Edited by Brundageba

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23 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

My point is simply that there’s some ‘attitude’ on both sides of the fence.

I certainly don't disagree with that. Sorry if I misunderstood.

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22 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

My point is simply that there’s some ‘attitude’ on both sides of the fence.

...well always Keith..  From the local perspective the "have's"  that have settled here are the cause of all the problems with cost of living issues that they suffer.  If a Gringo shows an " attitude " and couples that with rude behavior then that does not sit well .   Panamanians are very tolerant and patient  for the most part...   If they witness intolerance and impatience from a Gringo what kind of a response can you expect?

Adaptation I feel is in the court of the visitor and guest......us.   It seems Lilly expects the royal treatment at all times.  If the restaurant server does not provide the condiments desired,...then get up and get them yourself.  No big deal...blow it off. ( BUT what happens is this person sits and stews and gets irritated over what I consider nothing)  The ability to "blow off" what strikes you as not the treatment you are used to can be what makes or breaks your happiness as a foreigner residing here. 

The door opens both ways and she has left and is happy doing so...but for some reason needs to harp here. So what's up with that?

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My apologies for 'harping'. I still check in to see what's happening in the place I called home for a decade. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. However, I will defend my right to salt, pepper and hot sauce. I don't consider condiments part of the 'royal treatment'.  I did not spend my years in Panama with a chip on my shoulder. As I explained, different cultures and countries are not new to me. My first stint overseas was at the ripe old age of 27. Adjustment is not a novelty in my experience; in fact it has been my way of life.  The original post asked for comments and feedback. So I chimed in. I knew as soon as I hit publish that I would take flack for my 'attitude'. I suppose I simply wanted to express exactly 'what' I found hardest to adjust to in Panama. It sucked that I couldn't drive in Saudi Arabia. It was pretty scary to live in the benevolent dictatorship of Singapore. Mexico was a breeze after Panama. And so it goes. Every place is not for everybody. And sometimes the adjustments we make as expatriates are unanticipated because no one wants to say: "Hey, this is what it's going to look like and these are the challenges you will face". And sometimes people need to hear that there is no actual paradise on this earth. What purpose does it serve to paint a picture of rainbows and unicorns? I'm done harping now. Lesson learned.

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