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An Expat Talks about Living in
El Valle de Anton, Panama
El Valle, Panama
An expat in El Valle, Panama suggested that anyone moving to Central America read up on what to expect so that you are prepared for the good and bad. He's been most bothered by the fact that many Panamanians litter. To help with the issue, he and other expats are doing litter pickup in order to keep Panama beautiful.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
El Valle de Anton
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
I expected caring, helpful, active expats and peaceful, friendly locals.
I expected an incredibly beautiful spot on earth.
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Yes, for the most part.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
I guess I expected that the locals would be more environmentally minded but many Panamanians litter. That is my #1 pet peeve and the second is poor customer service.
There is no point for me to make it wrong-it's a cultural thing. We (the expats) are currently doing litter pickup in order to keep this beautiful place that way and we have plans underway to educate the populace and shift the culture, so we'll see.
I have received no outward hostility from the locals but sometimes some quiet hostility? Not that I blame them, we have invaded their country figuratively and literally. I suppose they have a love/hate thing with us. Plus many extraneros are cold, and some are outright arrogant.
I go out of my way to be friendly towards everyone and consider myself a diplomat for the extranero population.
But El Valle is still paradise for me. Please adjust your attitude before you move to Central America. In some ways it's better, some not. Please don't expect it to be the way it's not. Read up on what to expect.
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We are grateful that Jon, an Expat Exchange member living in Panama, took the time during the pandemic to submit an article about the the pros and cons of living in El Valle. Thanks, Jon!
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Comments about this Report
Panamamanians liter is a understatement! In such a beautiful country, to see garbage and trash along every road even as you indicate up in El Valle, is just shame! We have a home in Playa Coronado. They do not by the way, have a love/hate thing with us because we are expats. They do because many of them were fond of that scoundrel Noreiga and we took their hero away.
As for customer service, it is indeed a cultural thing! As little as it takes to get by is ALL the central Americans (not just Panamanians) will do to get by! It is true in every phase of dealing with them, from a manicure to having a room added to your home!
Oh, by the way, I LOVE living in Panama. If you know what to expect, and are flexible, it is a great place to live! We've been in country for just about 18 months now.
I totally agree. We should exercise cultural competence. If we take few minutes of our lives to understand other cultures, our days would be much happier. Understand and embrace the culture you are dealing with. We will find many good things about it and this will reflect on us as foreigners. A big applause for your initiative on littering. That is probably the only complain I have about Panama. Keeping the country clean is not the priority when in fact, it should be. I have visited other countries and I was amazed by how clean the streets in the city and roads in the country are free of trash. Government of Panama: please start a program to alleviate this burden to the eyes of the foreigners, and to provide a better place for Panamanians. US drunk drivers who have been placed in jail for the night are ordered to pick up trash along the roads as a punishment, of course under supervision. People who throw trash on the streets can be fined as well. Panama can start many programs such as this. Believe me, it would make a huge difference for the locals and foreigners.
100% agree about the trash/litter. Also agree with making sure you one educates themselves about the good & bad &'being able to live with it. My two top issues are the garbage & the 'free range' (some unhealthy) dogs. I understand how the litter doesn't get taken care of. There needs to be an organized, affordable trash collection. I do not know the 'workings' of Panamanian gov't but I would think it would behoove them to take it under consideration. A beautiful country needs to be kept clean & it takes, at the very least, trash cans, & someplace to send it. The animal issue? A tough one. But again it is a country problem & something should be done, humanely .