Two Panama Bus Stories

Why Panama Is Saner Than The U.S.

This morning I boarded the bus to go pay my February electric bill ($15.73 by the way). These aren’t “chicken buses,” either. They’re nice, air-conditioned 32-seat Toyota Coaster, like this:

I happened to get the last empty seat.

Across the aisle from me was a very attractive 20-something yacking away with her seat mate while unselfconsciously breast feeding her young infant. NO ONE was upset by this or paying the least attention.  Unlike in the States where you get headlines like: “Video of Man Harassing Breast-feeding Mother at Target Goes Viral…”  or: “Breastfeeding Mom Claims An Officer Threatened To Arrest Her…”

How to deal with uptight America…

breast feed

There Are Assholes In Every Country

After going over to Bugaba to pay my light bill and pick up a couple of things I’d forgotten in yesterday’s marketing foray, I hoped on a bus from Frontera to get home. As we were getting close to El Cruce, where I get off to take another bus three kilometers up the hill to my house I gave the guy at the door a one Balboa coin… (These were originally called “Martinellis” after President Ricardo Martinelli who introduced the coins. He is now on the run and living in Miami due to corruption charges against him. Several of his cabinet members are sitting in prison as I write this, awaiting trial. Most people no longer call the coins “Martinellis” but instead refer to them as “Fugitivos.” You don’t even need to speak Spanish to figure out what THAT means.)

The “Pavo” it literally means “turkey” but that’s what the guys manning the door and taking care of the fares are called, gave me 35¢ in change. I said, “The fare is 50¢.”

“¿Que?” (What?)

English translation: “The fare from Bugaba to El Cruce with the jubilado discount is 50¢, not 65¢”

“Mumble, mumble, ¡Americano!” as he swapped out the dime with a quarter.

By now people around me were looking at us and I said, “Yes, I’m a gringo, but I’m also a resident in Panama. Would you like to see my cédula?” (A cédula is the national identification card all Panamanians an permanent resident aliens are issued.)

He declined, but as I was passing him as I got off the bus he muttered the word “Gringo.”

I said, “Hasta luego, pendejo.” (Pendejo literally means pubic hair but it’s the Spanish equivalent of “asshole.”

I’ve been in the country for over seven years and he’s only the fourth Panamanian in all that time I don’t like.


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4 responses to “Two Panama Bus Stories

  1. I saw a woman walking down the street near Cervantes park, baby at her breast and nobody paid her the slightest attention. It happens all the time here. I saw what my breastfeeding daughters in the US had to go through so as not to offend.
    What’s with the anti gringo guy on the bus? That’s very unusual. Maybe he encountered one of the a**hole gringos and is taking it out on the rest of us.

  2. Unfortunately, it is probably more than one a**hole gringo that the “Pavo” may have encountered in his life!

    Considering you being in Panama that long, and only encountering 4 Panamanians that you did not like is typical.
    It would probably be at least 4 rude gringos back in the US, in the course of a week, that one would encounter!


    Well, that’s how it goes when a gringo runs off with your best girlfriend and takes her back to the states on his fancy sailboat. 🙂 Takes a while to get over it. One shouldn’t expect too much from a “turkey” anyway.

    Having a “best girlfriend” implies that he has more than one…who knows?

  4. I enjoy your posts about life in Panama. Are your plans still on to come back the the states?

    Yep. Aiming for end of April…