I've always been a social butterfly, so it surprised me that the girl-bonding process took so long. In hindsight, I made the move as a twenty-something woman who didn't have kids. If you've ever lived in a neighborhood of twenty-something women, you know that they are so overwhelmed by their own lives that they can't see beyond the next play date.
During my second visit to Panama, I had 15 people at my "farewell-come-back-soon" party. In a few short weeks, I'd made enough friends to make me feel like I had a support system in Panama. Is it that people in Panama are friendlier than they are in Texas? Nope, not a chance. The real reason has more to do with the season of life when people make the move to Panama.
Although there are all ages of expats living in Panama, many expats come here when they're more settled in life. For some people, this means that they're retired and looking for a cheaper place to live while. For others, a move to Panama means that they've got a revenue stream that can pay the bills and want a more appealing climate. Some have kids and others have grandkids, but they're all typically ready to put some quality time in their lives.
I had a client last week confide in me that she was worried about making friends. She asked me quite seriously, "If I throw a dinner party, will you come?"
I didn't mean to offend her, but I couldn't help laughing out loud. It was the kind of belly laugh that made tears stream down my face. She blinked at me like an owl. What was so darned funny?
Here is a Panama-ism that was very hard to explain to my new friend. Within a few weeks of her move, she'll have more friends than she wants. In fact, she will probably stop taking applications for friendship. She'll go to so many cocktail parties, cookouts and dinner parties that she'll long for a free night to stay home with cucumbers on her eyelids. I know she didn't believe me when I told her this, but trust me, it will happen.
Making friends in Panama is much easier than it is at home. If you're an inquiring mind, you'll scratch your head and wonder why. After a lot of analysis, here are my five reasons on why it's easier to make friends in Panama.
- People who move to Panama tend to have an adventurous spirit, which means the selection process of being around other people you have something in common with happens naturally.
- If you speak English, you immediately have something in common.
- Expats in Panama tend to have more free time for socializing.
- The "it's five o'clock somewhere" mentality is alive and well among expats.
- It's hard to be grumpy when you wake up to a beautiful jungle or ocean view every day, and happy people make friends easily.
If you're worried about making friends in Panama, don't be. You have a much better chance of being hit by a crazy bus than going friendless in Panama.