Expat social life in Panama

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Expats make a significant segment of people living in Panamá. Multinationals like Procter & Gamble or Philips have regional offices here, but there are also a lot of construction companies building up the country’s canal, bridges over it and its skyscrapers. There are lots of brazilian engineers from Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, french engineers from Vinci or spaniards from Sacyr or FCC.

Last friday we watched the France-Germany FIFA worldcup match at “Le Petit Paris” with the mexican wives of some french engineers from Vinci working on a bridge construction project near Colón. As one would expect, delicious croissants, tartines, quiches and other french pastries. Unfortunately France lost to Germany… In the afternoon we went to watch the Brazil-Colombia match at Rémi and Ana’s, friends of friends of friends that were introduced to us by email. Rémi’s is the son of a flemish who worked in France and got the US citizenship (or something like that…) and married Ana Cecilia who is a Brazilian born in Perú. We also met some brazilians working at Procter & Gamble but also other “products of genetic globalization” such as a franco-spaniard married to a sri-lankan refugee family who settled in France, a norwegian-chilean girl married to a french guy… Suddenly I feel like a fish in the water :p The Brazilian victory was followed by a traditional brazilian style barbecue orchestrated by Rémi (with caipirinhas, picanha and lingüiça…).

We have an apartment… finally!

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After some back and forth at times tough negotiation, we finally got the lease for the price we wanted and for 2 years. Tomorrow we are going there with Maria, from Nicaragua, who’s our best candidate so far to become our nanny and cleaning/cooking lady. We’re buying cleaning products in order to prepare our moving in… The apartment was recently painted but the painter was not the cleanest person in the world…
We’re exhausted because of the heat, the pressure in getting an apartment soon (our B plan was to move to a Trump Ocean Club furnished apartment… At least no need to buy furniture immediately and it’s a fully serviced option until we find something for the longer term. But we are tired of moving so we wanted to get something nice and long term. I guess it was worth it. For those who are curious about the place we’v found, click here to check it out 😉 It was the tallest Latin American building in 2010 (70 floors). It’s a luxury place but prices here are way more affordable than in Europe 🙂

3 good news today :)

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Today I had three good news:

1. The offer we made for that great apartment appears to have been accepted. After some some hardball negotiations in which we got the price that we wanted, the landlord will install curtains and paint the apartment, we should be signing the contract in the next few days and moving in next saturday! This IS SO GOOD news!!!! 🙂 More on the apartment on a future post (when we have the keys) and key lessons about real estate agents that I already knew but rediscovered first hand…

2. Leia didn’t cry when leaving nursery school today. We were told she is starting to make friends, having some fun and eating well (she was eating very little lately). She is now sleeping like a rock: there is some sort of celebration with insane fireworks next door, and she did not even move…

3. One of the “local” products I thought I would miss the most from Barcelona is… Vichy Catalan sparkling water! When I have stomach acidity problems, this is my best remedy. Look at what I’ve found at Riba Smith (a “posh” supermarket around here) today (See picture)

We also rented a car temporarily (up to now we were renting a car with a driver, a nice guy called Rodolfo – although it was a little expensive…). Now that we more or less know the city, I feel more confident driving by myself.

 

Still no answer to our rental offer

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Tomorrow the newly elected president of Panama Mr. Varela will replace outgoing president Mr. Martinelli. It’s a holiday and many festivities are programmed. I guess our to-be-landlord took a long week-end and that might be the reason we didn’t receive (so far) any answer to our offer to rent an apartment. The only thing I can do after a day crawling through furniture shops is to sit down and enjoy a cold beer…

Third Culture Kids…

Seeing all these expats with their wives and kids reminds me of my school years in São Paulo at the French “Lycée”: most of my friends were either expat kids, jewish or franco/belgo-brazilian kids…

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parent’s culture.
The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.
Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.

The following 31 signs you are a TCK are SOOO true 🙂

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/31-signs-youre-a-third-culture-kid

I wonder how my daughter Leia will be a Multi Third Cultural Kid… Mexican mother, Belgo-Brazilian from polish descendants father, born in Spain, will grow up in Panama. For now she has 4 passports… (BRA, BEL, MEX, ESP)

Shame on you Robben: it was not a Penalty!

Today we’ve watched Mexico vs. The Netherlands with our first acquaintances around here. Olivier and Adara are respectively french and mexican. We met them queueing (priority lane for families with children) for our Air France flight to Panama in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. They invited us to join and watch the match with some friends and we have started getting to know the franco-mexican mafia of Panamá (actually a few french engineers working on a bridge over the Panama canal near Colón for Vinci, with latin american wives – actually all but one were mexican). We had a great time if it were not for the penalty that gave The Netherlands a 2-1 victory – that was pretty unfair! 🙁

Let’s hope the landlord accepts our offer!!!

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Today we found THE appartment of our dreams! It doesn’t matter the rent is a little bit above our initial search range… it is soooo worth it!
Pictures: Leia “driving” the car on Edith’s (one of our Real Estate Agents) knees. Don’t worry, the car was stopped.
Mexican restaurant “Ora le” where we had a fast lunch before Leia’s first appointment with her pediatrician at the Nursery. She got the Hepathitis A and Influenza shots, not mandatory in Spain but highly recommended here.