Trading One Star For Two (Panama)

Panama City, Panama 2013

I recently moved from Chile (one star on flag) to Panama (two stars on flag) and been in Panamá for 1 month now. My first week was spent here with the Universidad de Chile and a group of MBAs all getting to know Panamá´s culture and economy. During that week I made contacts through the partner university here, other random people I met and some contacts I´d recieved before arriving. It was a busy week and a great introduction to the country and City of Panamá but I had no time to apply for jobs. The following weeks I spent in the house revising resumes, meeting with people, applying for jobs, sending resumes via contacts, and getting to know the neighborhood where I moved. By the end of week two of my job search I had people calling and two interviews! One was very last minute, next morning from a call one hour after a contact sent my resume out! Things move quickly here.

The first interview offered me a job and asked for a response that day. I delayed, responding the next day. I accepted and am now working for Nike via the local distributor here. I got hired as Running Specialist in the marketing department and started October 14…Ta Da that concludes my month!

Besides that lovely news, I have also met more people, been running lots, started Portuguese class, went exploring in other parts of the city, and went to the USA v. Panamá fútbol (soccer) game.

A little more about where I am and life here.

Panamá is a tropical place between the Atlantic-Caribbean and Pacific oceans. It´s temperature is tropical…think humid and sunny…well right now is what they would consider winter…so it rains…like monsoon October and November and into December. I think it is still pool weather though and I am often in the pool….I am also running…or really sweating A LOT! I have been slowly getting used to running in this weather…key for now is slow and continuous! Panamá has a boom in running going on…seems like everywhere down South really.

I live about a block from the main thoroughfare of the city and another block to the water. I live with another American guy who I was put in contact with through the coordinator of the partner school (to UChile). I live in one of many tall buildings here, on the 15th floor. The Cinta Costera is where I run which is a park along the main thoroughfare and water. The pool I use is the one in the building or in one of the many hotels in town with cool pools. My neighborhood is Bella Vista which is decent, near 2 hospitals and a few smaller universities. I transport in taxi or Metrobus. Taxi is no more than $3 to nearly anywhere from here…except toward the airport of farther destinations. Buses cost 0.25 cents anywhere you go unless it says Costenera Norte or Sur (cost is 1.25 for those buses). To work is 20 minutes with bus and 12 in taxi ($2). Airport is $20 to $25…anything over $30…find another taxi!!! Taxis will try to charge more…around town they may ask for up to $10 – never pay more but know it was way less! 😀

Eric, my roommate, is younger, works at the partner university teaching English, like many internationals do here. Pay in general in Panamá is much lower…teachers with contracts actually do pretty well. Most get 1500 -1800 a month with housing and a car often…it is easier to find work if you are certified or with degree. Housing is around 500 to 1000 with roommates and buying a flat is anywhere from 150,000 and up. I know people who live in a nice area and in a nice building, two bed and two bath for 250,000…like WOW!

Panamá is quite a diverse city, looks big but is small. You run into people you have barely met quite often (like H.S. or a small town). Friday I went to lunch and ran into someone in the medical field who works by my house, whom I met Monday. Another, Wednesday I went for a run and ran into a friend biking and another I tried to cross the absurdly busy street to catch a bus to work and a coworker stopped and gave me a ride…on day 3 after starting…I did not even know them yet but they knew me! So if you live here, be aware everyone will know you and what you do….don´t be stupid!

Panamá has plenty of traffic and it gets worse on payday when people oddly use their car for the first time in 2 weeks! Payday is bimonthly for I think everyone! Many work Saturdays half day. Also the work year is 13 months. You get two months tax free! November is an important month, independence days all month…from both Colombia and Spain. Vacation is 1 month for most.

Going out here is great. Be aware that girls dress UP! Expect very high heels and short fancy dresses. Electronic, Reggeton, Salsa is the music. Casco Antiguo (Casco for short) is less dressy in feel but many are quite dressed up. It is a young population but I´ve been told many are taken…yet to figure that out. Other popular places are Calle Uruguay full of clubs but it is kind of trashy, hotels have nice clubs (Hard Rock is super popular and actually cool here), Casco for sure (don´t miss),  lastly Via Argentina has its share of bars and clubs.

Despite having a nice place to live, I may move to live with a Spanish speaker come December…and maybe at a lower price to save even more.

So this concludes this blog…just in time for it´s deadline…odd. I amazingly planned one trip before accepting my job so more on the Colombia trip here.

More blogs on Panama:

1 year living and working abroad (Panama)

Cycling Oceano a Oceano (Panama)

Pure Business (Panama)

Panama International Marathon 42k (Panama)

Panama, Will You Be My Valentine?

Central American blogs about Belize and Nicaragua.

6 thoughts on “Trading One Star For Two (Panama)

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