I shared my thoughts on live-in domestic help with a friend from South Africa before I came to Panama. He said, "Melissa you will love you maid in Panama, and when you have to come back to the States, you will miss her most of all." I had no idea how right he would be!
I had a wonderful cleaning service in Dallas that vacuumed, dusted and mopped... but nothing compares to domestic help in Panama. My maid currently comes once per week, which I thought would be adequate for just me and my two little dogs, but I am already yearning for a full-time maid. You see, maids here do more than sweep the floors and clean the bathrooms.
Aside from general cleaning, my maid strips my bed every week and washes every piece of clothing in the laundry room. She washes my dishes, and if I'm going to be perfectly honest, I'll admit that I stop washing my own dishes on Thursday, knowing she'll wash them on Saturday. She cleans my balcony from top to bottom, and polishes the windows to a sparkling shine. She even cooks my food.
This week, I was unfortunate enough to step in doggie doo-doo and left my yucky sandals in the utility sink. She scrubbed them to sparkling perfection. She spends 7-8 hours every Saturday in my apartment, and I pay her $35 per day.
My friends who have full-time maids tell me their maids go grocery shopping, prepare all of the meals, walk the dogs, get the kids ready for school, and do all of the miscellaneous errands of running a house. My friend Tracy even took her maid to her beauty salon so the maid could learn to blow dry Tracy's hair. Tracy works out at lunch, washes her hair after work, and then has her maid blow dry her hair to perfection. In the evening when Tracy goes out, she sparkles with that salon-beautiful perfection that most of us get only once a month from our stylist.
Domestic help in Panama is so inexpensive that many families with one child have two maids, and families with multiple kids have an entourage of help. I always find it amusing when a perfectly coiffed woman is walking in the mall, trailed by a nanny who is taking care of the child and a maid who is carrying the packages.
No matter how you feel about domestic help in the U.S. or Canada, your feelings will change once you get here. Inexpensive and all-inclusive domestic help is on every Westerner's "Top 3" reasons to love Panama.