Starting with the fact that Panama is one the most interesting countries one can visit, Panama is a mélange of old and new – of beautiful skyscrapers and that feeling of old town blues. Escapeartist invites you to experience Panama as it is – as an incredible Latin America country, with spectacular landscapes and history lessons like those that you never heard before. We want to help you with your Escape Plan by introducing you to the local environment, to ensure that you are indeed aware of what awaits you in Panama and that you are fully prepared for your trip. Whenever you radically change your environment there is a certain degree of culture shock, which you can diminish by assimilating as much as possible beforehand. This helps to smooth the transition and ensures that you as a traveler will have a chance to consider your residence in Panama a home, rather than a temporary arrangement.
The moment you arrive in Panama, you will feel a sense of surprise and security – an interesting combination, no doubt. Given the fact that in recent years, Panama has managed to rebuild its economy and compensate for the effects of military warfare that have created strong upheavals throughout its history, it has a more modern look nowadays. Most first-time visitors are astonished by the glass architecture that can be found and admired in larger cities like Panama City, which bring a U.S.-kind of feel to the Latin capital. Like many other developing countries, Panama will constantly surprise you with contrasts – therefore, in order to enjoy it at its fullest, you will have to employ a certain degree of mental discipline. The contrasts will show up more often the longer you stay and understanding that the country is under constant development will reduce that homesick feeling of “Things used to be different back home”.
Living in Panama can easily be compared to an incredible adventure and it often has more compensations than nuisances. In terms of weather, you should know that it has one of the best climates on the globe – making it comfortable in terms of humidity and heat. The occasional showers are daylong sometimes; however, the sun shines over Panama most of the time making it a great experience in terms of boosting your morale. Furthermore, if you dream of sandy, tropical beaches close to your home then Panama will offer you precisely this – waking up to sun kissed beaches and calmly walking on the shore with a cup of coffee in your hand and your loved one at your side. The landscape is beautiful at all times regardless if you are waiting for the sun to come out of the water early in the morning or see it sink again in the sea at dusk. One important note about Panama is that its climatic regions are not divided based on temperature levels but on rainfall – meaning that certain regions have a higher amount of rainfall than others – on a range that starts at 1,100 millimeters to about 3,000 millimeters per year. The Pacific side of Panama is somewhat drier than the Caribbean side.
In terms of culture, Panama has some very interesting influences and it includes people from all continents – people from Europe, Asia and Australia live here, although in small percentages. If you are looking for similarities, the closest in terms of culture and customs are the Caribbean and Spanish people with Spanish also being the official and most prevalent language throughout the country. You can also find the native language of Ngabere occasionally. A small percentage of Panamanians speak English although this is on the rise as many recognize the economic advantages to be gained by being able to communicate in English. An interesting fact about Panama’s culture is that it is obviously a result of its reliance on commerce throughout the centuries – making it quite an interesting ethnic salad bowl (with influences from numerous other cultures). The Chinese built the Panama Railroad in the 19th century and Afro-Panamanians have heavily contributed to the development of the country.
Getting along with people in Panama is the easiest thing you have ever tried since most Panamanians are quite friendly and incredibly easy-going. Kindness and respect are the passport to any foreigner’s heart but you will see an actual response to it here – you will love the people in Panama as soon as you arrive and start spending some time with them. In terms of grooming, you will be surprised to find that even if Panama is a hot country, people tend to dress-up even on weekends. This might be an odd habit to get accustomed however, remember the old saying “When in Rome… Dress like the Romans do”. Thoughtfulness and generosity will also make you a model citizen – remember that Panama is after all a third world country therefore maintain a generous attitude when paying people or when leaving tips. It will change your status in the blink of an eye.