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Mad Dogs and Englishmen…

by Sandra Snyder

El Cangrego is one of my favorite neighborhoods and it pains me to see how it is changing. First, there are too many new buildings and no new infrastructure to support them. Whether you are concerned about adequate water, sewage treatment, trash removal, cell phone coverage, Internet connection speed or electricity, the new buildings and the people they will attract, will tax the existing systems. Next, the addition of casinos in the neighborhood brings more traffic of all kinds filling the streets with more cars passing through the area, looking for parking places, and blocking traffic.

Today I had a number of errands to do in El Cangrego –a visit to the printer, the Chamber of Commerce, the bank and lastly to get my car washed. Dry season, summer, has finally arrived and a good wash is in order. So I find myself sitting in the shade in a pink lawn chair while the car has a bath.

Everyone else seems to be out today doing errands as well. Local business people, students, neighborhood people all dressed conservatively for the city, in work uniform, slacks and shirts, casual skirts or jeans. However, this season there certainly are more tourists than in past years and they also pass in review before my chair. Frightening! A couple in shorts and Birkenstocks amble past. A young couple in their twenties, pass in matching shades of ratty looking gray t-shirts un-tucked, gray shorts, flip flops and his-and-her pony tails. Another young man passes displaying an incredible array of tattoos on his bare arms. He is accompanied by a young woman who has the words “Trust” tattooed around her neck. I can only wonder, trust whom? A middle-aged couple in shorts and tennis shoes each have on a funny hat. He has on a soft well-worn golf hat and she a crochet floppy hat covering her head and shading her eyes. A young couple, pushing a baby carriage over the narrow sidewalk, is clad in exercise shorts and shirts reminiscent of a racquetball court. They are followed by yet another elderly couple who are almost beyond belief.

Remember the cartoon of the elderly Playgirl, about 80, with long thin boobs hanging to her waist, and a nose almost as long? The woman passing before me was not as thin as that character in the funny papers but the rest of the description was accurate. Neither her blouse nor her red bikini top under the blouse covered, supported or hid her appendages- long bouncy appendages. Her short shorts likewise exposed her knobby-knees. She was accompanied by what appeared to be her husband in his best Nike nylon bathing suit, short length also, with dime-store rubber sandals. They seemed headed in the direction of the closest casino, a block and a half away. This is a current popular destination for viejo verdes and other tourists, providing still more local color and entertainment for us locals to observe from a distance.

After all it is nearly noon, summer in the city and for those from cold climates it probably seems like swim suit weather regardless of the fact they are in a city, no pool in the area, and they are actually headed out to lunch.

The car washing goes slowly. More or less slowly than elsewhere I am not sure, but with each passing spectacle the muchacho’s attention is drawn away from the job, a smile appears, sometimes even an out loud laugh. I may not know what these tourists are thinking to go out in public in such attire but it is clear what the car wash boy thinks – crazy gringos.

© Sandra T. Snyder
Relocation Specialist and Author of Living in Panama and other books. January 29, 2007

Published in The Panama Eagle – February 2007


The International Book Fair 2009
Sandra will be available to autograph books and answer questions
August 19
through August 23, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Info

Gran Morrison will inaugurate Book Week with Panama Authors: Sandra Snyder, Rose Marie Tapia, Rafael Candanedo and Rosita Cordoba.
September 19, 2008, 4:00 p.m. at Gran Morrison El Dorado, El Dorado Mall.

Tuesday Morning Meeting
Sandra will share some of her experiences and provide some helpful hints for better living in Panama. Info
March 11, 2008

P.B.C. Person2Person
Sandra & David on the radio. Podcast
January, 2008



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