Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thinking of putting your backpack down and becoming an expat in Panama?

With apologies to guest writer Ezra Paskus

If your reasons are any of these two then STAY HOME!

1. I hate what’s happening in: America, Canada, Somalia, Darfur, Iraq, Barbados.

Granted there is probably nothing terrible happening in Barbados, but the point is that if you disagree with the current political/economic situation in your home country, this is probably not a good reason to leave. You cannot escape the effects of American politics nor its current shitstorm economy. Internet access is available from Rio Douche, Panama to Werthefuckamitenango, Guatemala. Unfortunately, so are CNN and even Fox News, although here it’s called Canal Comedia. And if you think your government is corrupt?

2. I hate: my job, my girlfriend/boyfriend, my drinking problem, black presidents, the fact that I’m a giant douchebag.

The problem is a douchebag in Panama smells much the same as a douchebag back home (unless you are French – quite nice there actually). If you don’t fit in where you live now, you wont fit in here either. You’ll be the raving lunatic that everyone calls “Gringo Loco”, trust me; I am still trying to shrug this off. Your drinking problem? Booze is considerably cheaper here.

Ok, so maybe neither of those apply to you, or you’re willing to overlook them, or that last line made up your mind to come to the land of cheap booze, or you have delusions of being a pirate, or you just want to see some funky Latina ‘gina. Read on.

I wanna be an ExPat and I’m willing to overlook the following in order to get to the funky Latina ‘ginas.

• Crazy ass drivers.

Anyone outside of USA/Canada is a crazy ass driver who uses the car horn like my 5 year old nephew honks his wee wee, and some of these drivers are honking their their wee wees and their horns at the same time. In Panama car horn is used to communicate any of the following, not in this order and sometimes all inclusive: you’re a hot chick, you’re in my way, I’m coming through the middle of your car, do you need a ride, my taxi is empty, my taxi is full, you’re not moving, you are moving, how are you, fuck you, you’re a fat chick, you’re a fat chick but if you get in my car I’ll sympathy hump you.

• Crazy ass Latina ‘ginas.

If you have blue eyes it’s easier to pick up here than taking money from the cup of a one eyed legless beggar. I know, I bought colored contacts.

• The combined smell of piss and campfire. This has apparently been bottled in Panama and is one hell of a hot seller especially for public transport.

• Lazy bastards.

There is a reason bribery is popular in developing countries. If you’ve ever tried to wade through ridiculous bureaucracy then you have wished that bribery was popular in the good ol USA. But it isn’t just bureaucracy, it’s on all levels, it’s a general air of undeserved entitlement, sorta like a country full of Kevin Federlines. As one Panamanian told me while we were looking out at the canal, his ancestors worked so hard on the canal he was born tired. You will run into this “manana” attitude everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

• Personal space.

It no longer exists in Panama. I cannot explain this thoroughly enough. Whether it’s the stinky assed armpit shoved in your face on the bus, or the stinky assed ass shoved in your face on the bus, something stinky assed will be shoved in your face… everyday.

• Cops and the disappearance of your “rights”.

Whereas in Britain cops will say “Stop, stop, dammit or I will have to say stop again,” in Panama they point an AK-47 at your head while you cash a check. If you call a cop and they can’t find someone to arrest they will arrest you. And while, “Hey, I got rights, and I’ll upchuck on your shoes if I wanna” might gain you a pity smile and a hardy chuckle, and possibly a phone call in the USA, here it will probably gain you a pistol whippin and laughter from the other 10 dudes loosening their belts in your 4ft by 4ft cell.

Still ready to come?

So sell all of your worldly possessions, which granted may not net you as much as it would in a bright shiny economy, but you won’t need much because you won’t be spending much. After all, loss of personal hygiene, cup ‘o noodles, and sleeping on the beach doesn’t cost that much and, you will be rich with experience and confident in your knowledge that you are a pioneer who will come back one day and write a best seller about all of your spiritual insights with your fellow man and how the girl with the hairy armpits dumped when you ran out of cash for 50 cent beers and had to sell your hemp necklaces and hardened Playdoh “water-pipes” to the unsuspecting tourists. Wait! What are all of these other trust fund hippies doing selling their “jewelry” (crap) on your street in paradise?

Still want to come? Good… I haven’t regretted a single day.

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