Old Post from Old Blog: Panama Ex-pats.

So I forgot that back in the day, when I was just a young girl in my early twenties, I had a blogspot blog. It was, very creatively, called Jisel’s Travel Blog. I was shocked to see that my old blog is still getting about 30-50 hits a day despite the fact I haven’t updated in nearly three years. And I have to admit my wordpress blog feels a little jealous. Anyway, I copied and pasted most of my Colombia posts into this blog, but I have dozens of blogs about Panama that had, until now, been lost to me. So I will try to re-post some of those here just in case anyone thinking of moving to Panama is looking for Panama related-information.

So here it goes, all the way back to 2008/2009.

I was thinking about it, and the whole ex-pat thing is kind of strange. More so when you have people from stable, modern world countries moving to developing countries with less infrastructure and social benefits and more corruption and complications. I did this and I couldn’t tell you exactly why. All I know is that when I was in D.C., I knew I didn’t want to be there. I just can’t articulate the reasons why not. There are several types of ex-pats in Panama.

I think the worst kind are the non-Spanish speaking middle-aged “paradise-seeker” couples who come here to take advantage of all the “benefits” of living in a so-called third world country, but are more or less repulsed by the local people, culture and way of life. I think people who are tired of Midwestern, Canadian or European winters should just move to Florida if they can’t deal with what they view as the “negative” aspects of living in the tropics. They live in their own little world where they only interact with other foreigners and never get to know Panama at anything more than a superficial level. And the thing is, these are probably the same people who look at non-English Mexican immigrants with disdain saying that if they don’t speak English, they should go back to Mexico.

Then there are the white guys with longish, whitish hair and prostitute girlfriends. Who still try to party like they’re 25 and think people are looking at them with envy when they go somewhere with their 20-year-old surgically enhanced “girlfriend.” They usually have potbellies, wear Hawaiian shirts and have at least one divorce behind them. These are slightly more respectable than the above category because they at least make an effort to speak Spanish and partake in the local culture. Which makes sense, because they came here to enjoy what they can’t enjoy (at least without judgment) in the United States.

There are the entrepreneurs, usually men in their twenties and thirties, who come here to make it big. Some of them are perfectly nice, normal men; others are Miami-style flashy/ridiculous. Sometimes they make more money than they know what to do with and sometimes they realized that Panama isn’t the Disneyworld of money-making and end up going back to wherever they came from.

 There are also the party people, who don’t seem to have an actual job of any kind (or a very vague occupation at best), but who spend most weekends and weekdays at some various club or another. There are actually quite a bit of women in this category, and they are the kind I would never be friends with.

 There are also the do-gooder peace core volunteers who stayed on to work on various projects or because they just loved Panama so much. They are usually very nice, decent people, but the kind with no kind of malicious intent of any sort, so it’s hard to connect with them unless you’re one of them. There are the nature people,(generally Smithsonian or other U.S. or international organization) workers, the Colombian prostitutes, embassy workers, older gay man demographic and the outliers, who can’t really be put in anyone category, and you’re not really sure why they’re here in Panama. I think I’m part of that category, but I’m not completely sure.



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