After more than 6 weeks of getting acquainted with Panama, one of the things most of us have discovered is that time in Latin America is viewed much differently from in the U.S. Americans lead fast-paced lives, always hurrying from school to work to events and more. Food is fast, service is fast, everything is fast. Latin America moves to a much different rhythm. Nothing is done on time. People move at a leisurely pace whether at work or elsewhere.
This is often hard for us Americans to get used to. We are accustomed to quick service and punctuality. We have to really try hard not to get annoyed while waiting. In business and in social settings meeting times are loose suggestions. If you’re host tells you to arrive at 8, better make it 9 to risk not arriving too early and finding them just hopping out of the shower. If you’re going out for dinner, make sure you’re not starving. Have a snack before you go because you will most likely have to wait a bit for your food. If you are prepared for this difference in time mentality, your time in Panama and across Latin America will be much more enjoyable and you will save yourself a lot of frustration.
Every cultural experience teaches us something about life. If you’re a traveler you probably already have an open mind. Here in Panama we are all learning to view and value time differently. Embrace the slow pace and learn to enjoy life a little slower. A sign I recently saw said it best; Relax. Don’t rush. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. Enjoy this wonderful place.