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I moved back to Panama in June 2012 and I write this blog to keep my sanity and sense of humor as a Native in a strange land. More Info

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January 2013
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Laura’s Life in Panama

Dancing Queens and Men with Hats

January 16, 2013

Hi AngloInfo Community!  I am delighted to be a new blogger for this site.  My name is Laura and I moved to Panama from San Francisco, California in June 2012.  I was born here but grew up in the United States.  A desire to be closer to my aging parents and to have a new life experience led me to create a new life for myself here.  

I have been blogging about my adventure since I arrived.  You can find past articles at  Going forward, I will post them here as well. 

It’s a good life, Panama!

Dancing Queens, Men with Hats and the Monkey

 One goal Mom and I have for 2013 is to see more of Panama.  We’ve been to a number of popular beach and mountain towns in the distant past; since so much is changing here, we decide it’s time to visit them again.

Our first stop: Las Tablas to catch El Desfile de Mil Polleras  — The Parade of 1000 Polleras.  We leave Panama City on Friday morning and arrive 5 hours later in Pedasi, a coastal town about 30 minutes from Las Tablas.  We check into the quaint and inexpensive Casa Margarita and spend the late afternoon visiting nearby beaches and new home construction, which is booming.  For dinner we head to Pedasito Hotel’s cute restaurant for comida tipica; Mom orders white wine and sancocho and I just stick to the white wine  – part of my new diet.

We sleep soundly and wake up early Saturday morning to attend the festival.  Mom’s friend, a Las Tablas native, advises us to arrive there by 9:00 am in order to get a good parade route spot.  This seems like good advice before we park ourselves in the hot, hot sun at 8:30 am and then realize the event will not start until 2:30 pm.   After 6 hours of waiting and perspiring, the fun begins.

President Martineli kicks off the parade, I see my favorite TVN cooking show host in his company’s float and dance along with others to the festive live music.  I also see more polleras than I thought possible.  No, they are not exaggerating when they promise 1000 of them; there really were like 1000 women dressed in this frilly, mostly white yet colorful national costume.  Problem is that about after the 350th, I am good.  I don’t  really need to see 650 more.  I get picture.  But we’re trapped on the parade route with Mom’s scooter and no key (totally my fault for leaving it back at the hotel) and have to wait until the very end of the 3 hour parade to leave.

Here’s a short video of dancing queens and men with hats.

Once back in Pedasi, we head to Restaurante El Patio for dinner.  We arrive around 6:30 pm and are the only customers there.  The Spanish menu looks tasty until we learn that many of the items we’d like to order are unavailable.  Mom chuckles. Once food arrives to our table, it is delicious.  Mom orders grilled fish and I order a salad with sauteed vegetables.  Both of order and thoroughly enjoy our dessert — homemade flan and pears in wine sauce.

On the way back to Panama City on Sunday, we stop at a friend’s house to visit her pet monkey.  I’m super excited since I would love to own a monkey myself someday.  Picolino does not disappoint!  He is so cute in his smallness and old-man appearance and becomes even more interesting after a tiny sip of Balboa beer.  A true Panamanian monkey!  I also enjoy meeting Picolino’s brothers and sisters — 4 dogs, 2 parrots and a cat.

All in all, it was a fun weekend.  I look forward to reporting back about more adventures exploring Panama this year with Mom.  It’s a good life!


by Laura. Find out more about Laura here.

Categories: Panama, Travel

4 Responses to “Dancing Queens and Men with Hats”

  1. Your blog is interesting and I loook forward to enjoying some of these same events within a couple years. At this time I am wondering if you have any information about credit unions in Panama. I have heard that some Panama banks offer high (8%) interest rates for CDs. However, I am unable to locate the specific banks that do offer good rates and then somebody told me that Credit Unions offer an even BETTER interest rate? Any information you can offer would be greatly appreciated.



  2. Hi Betty. Thanks for your message. I don’t have experience with credit unions myself so I asked Mom. She says there are co-ops here that offer higher rates of returns than regular banks. One co-op that she’s aware of specifically services doctors and other professionals and seems to have a good reputation. She does not know the rate of return they offer.

    That said, it is important to realize that we do not have the equivalent of FDIC here in Panama as we do in the United States. So you might want to research the amount of reserves held by the co-op or even bank you choose; should they experience a financial crisis, they would be in a better position to take care of their clients.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Dear Laura!

    First of all, I really like your blog, thank you for sharing your experiences. What I would like to know: what is your oppinion, is there any chance for two freshly graduated guy to make a living over there? Me and my friend both have BA degrees (finance & accounting ; international business studies;marketing) just felt in-love with Panama, and we decided to travel there this autumn. Currently we are not able to speak spanish, but our english is fluent, and we are planning to learn the basic spanish before arriving. Moreover one of us is fluent italian, which is really similar to spanish, if I’m not mistaken. So what I would like to know; do we have any chance over there ? :)
    Many thanks for your kind reply! have a nice day.


  4. Hi Viktor. Great to hear from you and thank you for reading my blog.

    Yes, I do think there is a great likelihood of success for you and your friend here in Panama. If you want to work for someone else, super! The unemployment rate is about 4% so chances are good that, at a minimum, you will be able to find a job.

    If you’d like to work for yourself, even better. Panama es El Pais de Posibilidades. There are so many opportunities here to do something you love, to pursue your passion, to be first in time, to grow a business, to fill a niche. There are enough people here with money who seek reputable, professional services. Find out what people want, do an excellent job and give it to them on time and you will be successful.

    Oh, and be SURE to learn Spanish. Knowing the language — which is similar to Italian, but definitely NOT Italian — is really important in terms of separating people to do well from those who really thrive. For example, the hotel industry, which is huge here, needs bilingual speakers. Knowing Spanish would be a great way to get your foot in the door.

    If I can support you in any way, please let me know. In the meantime, it’s a good life!