Before Panama, whenever I saw a fat old guy with the hot young chick, I assumed the guy was filthy rich. In the dating world, money and beauty give you power, otherwise known as "dating equity." In Panama, being North American gives you a lot of equity in your normal everyday life, and you don't have to be single to use it.
Being a Gringo in Panama means that people are nicer to you. Do they expect something in return? Sometimes. But not always. Let me give you a few examples.
- In yesterday's post, I told the story of being rescued by two local fisherman when we had ventured too far out in a kayak. The fishermen told my fiancé that they stopped to help us because I was an American, which in this case meant I was non-threatening.
- On a recent trip to El Valle, we had lunch at a restaurant called Taverna Firenze. After ordering a bottle of wine and entrees, we realized the restaurant didn't take credit cards. We didn't have any cash on us, and the nearest ATM was 30 minutes away. The owner told us to relax and enjoy our lunch. He said, "Don't worry about it. Just bring me the money next time you come by. You're an American. I know you'll pay me eventually."
- When we got a flat tire recently, five different local men came to our rescue within two minutes. They changed the flat tire for the spare, and then led my us to the nearest repair shop. Even though we tipped them, they didn't ask for anything in advance before helping us.
- When I go through a security screening or checkpoint, I am typically whisked through quickly. The Panamanians know that Americans aren't in Panama to cause trouble, but rather to spend their dollars.
The "American equity" that I enjoy is thanks to the Americans who have been in Panama before me. Typically Americans pay well and tip often, which means I get a few more equity points in my favor just for being a Gringa.
Using my equity as an American, not only was I able to snag my own personal Joe Boxer model, but my everyday life is a little easier as well.