In The City

We’ve booked a very nice hotel for a two night stay for an extremely good rate in the middle of Panama City.  I never found a deal this good in my neck of the woods nor in Ca. when I visited there!  There are so many hotels here that there is great competition for customers and you can always find a deal somewhere in the city.  We did some shopping yesterday and today we meet the realtor for an initial discussion about properties.

We were greeted by a wonderfully helpful and personable doorman at our hotel when we got dropped off midmorning after our ferry ride from Taboga yesterday.  We figured we would just drag our small amount of luggage around the city with us until we could check in at the hotel at 3pm.  Our plan was to eat a meal and do some shopping.  Then the doorman told us we could leave our luggage with them (for free!) until check in and gave us a ticket to retrieve it when we returned.  So, we happily did that and left.  Around 1:30, we got so hot we gave up shopping and decided to go to the hotel lobby to cool down and relax while we waited.  The doorman (we really have to find out his name!) came and checked on us and told us he gone to the desk and asked and that we could check in early.  Really?  Wow!  So we got in our room an hour early thanks to him.  No charge.  The doorman then hauled our luggage upstairs, too.  Yes we did tip him, but I tell ya, for service like that, it’s well worth it.  So pleasant.  Plus though he didn’t speak perfect English, he was really happy to help us understand.  I have rarely seen this kind of service in the States.  At least not in my part of the country.  Mostly, it’s no smiles and a “here, take your shit, now go, I got more important stuff to do and you’re holding me up, you idiot” type of impression you get from people in stores and hotels, especially if you dare to ask questions or make requests.  So this man impressed me.  We also had a young man come to the room later to help us connect to the internet after we experienced some issues.  He came to our room to do this!  And did it smilingly.

But I have seen that a lot here.  Taxi drivers go out of their way to help with luggage, store clerks always ask if you need help, drivers stop to let you cross roads.  Restaurant workers are extremely attentive.  Expats are always willing to offer insight from their own experiences.  Strangers become friends and offer to help us out even when we don’t ask.  These are genuine people willing to offer kind service.

That’s not to say there are not folks who will take advantage of you here, especially gringos/gringas like us.  That kind of stuff is everywhere though, even where we come from.  So we’re currently learning to distinguish the difference in this culture, but I take this all as an expansion of my life experiences and actually, it’s quite stimulating.

My friend and I had a discussion along those lines last night as we waited in the grocery store check out line for half an hour watching someone ahead of us with an enormous amount of groceries get checked out.  We looked around at people and how things were set up and done and speculated.  Occasionally we will find ourselves suddenly wondering what the hell we are doing, having tossed our lives upside down and moved to a foreign country.  Then we remember what we left behind and what there is to return to if we succumb to fear.  Brains stuck on pause, no new learning, feeling dulled and bored and stagnant, feeling like our minds are shrinking daily as we go about the same routine day after day in our small worlds, and unfulfilling relationships.  So, though this is all brand new, uncertain, and not easy, it’s also very stimulating.  I can’t help but feel we will be living longer and healthier as a result.

Time to go to start the day.  Hasta luego!

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