One of the many reasons I left the United States was to leave behind the judgmental ignorance of the American masses. When I left there was no Tea Party, but there was the artificial culture created by greed and consumption. The culture that wanted services from government but did not want to pay taxes to government. The culture that thinks the United States is the only country that has it right. The rest of the world is made of only those who want to storm the borders to work for Tyson and the meat packers.
The purpose of the masses in the United States is to buy, consume and buy more. The system of public education in the United States has declined to the level where people cannot separate facts from opinions; opinions like this very editorial post and FOX news. Despite many who have religious beliefs in the United States, the real god is money and the sacrament is the things money can buy. When I see that culture, the one I left, starting to express itself here, I recoil in fear. I discovered in Panama, a refreshing breath of fresh air, both from the expats and local people. A different view of life, a respect for families and a respect for the elderly not seen in mainstream US culture.
Currently I am seeing a very different group of immigrants arriving in Boquete. Many are fleeing for political reasons, some for economic reasons, some for fear of their artificial world changing. Most of these people are good people who, if they can survive the culture shock, will enjoy their lives here and add to the community. Mixed in with the good there are the thieves, the pedophiles, the con men and some pompous arrogant fools.
I am addressing this to the gentry fleeing to move their country club mentality to Panama. If you come here with all the values and culture that made you the social gentry of the US you actually are in the right town, you will find others like you here. If you can rise above your prejudices you can enjoy a better life in Panama, if not you can still find a coven of people like you. These people usually stick to themselves and shun the unwashed masses.
If you can find the understanding that not everyone here, Panamanian or expat has your view of the world, you will do better. Some people here come to invest and earn, many of them lose their shirts because they have no understanding of culture, language or law. Others come here to divest and relax. Some people driving Prados cannot make the payments on them and others riding rusty sedans, or riding horses, can buy and sell you several times over. Learn not to make judgments based on appearance and you will have a first step toward understanding you are not in Kansas anymore, despite the fact the same applies in Kansas.
One of the virtues of this young country is the ability to be who you wish to be, unmolested. Although Panama has a law for everything, generally the government leaves people alone. One of the virtues of being an expat here is that Panamanians are a warm, compassionate and by necessity, self relient people. Treat them with respect and warmth and you will receive dividends, treat them as inferior and you will loose both honor and opportunity. They are not inferior, this is their country and you, unless you are a citizen, are a guest here.
The same goes for your fellow expats, there are people here with great wealth and people struggling to survive on Social Security. All of them had the courage to relocate to a new land and start a new life. Whether they choose to drink beer at Baru or the club house in Valle Escondido does not speak to their intelligence, virtue or character. Venue is irrelevant unless you make it relevant, if you do believe it relevant, stay where you are comfortable but do not libel those who do not match your chosen lifestyle.
I gave up the Jaguar, the Mercedes and the suburban home in the US for a better lifestyle of less consumption and less pressure. I gave away my suits, my dress shoes and my high pressure, high spending, high living lifestyle for something different. I have grown younger each year I have lived in Panama, ask my doctor.
Do yourself a favor and try to understand the country, the culture and the people. Then consider what opportunity you have to have a better, longer, healthier life by relaxing and abandoning the things that you fled; what ever your reasons might have been. This is a land of milk and honey please leave the bitters behind.