* Visiting to the U.S.- a Wee bit of Culture/Sticker Shock*

“I’m in a hurry to get things done, I work and work until life’s no fun

All I really gotta do is live and die but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”      From the album American Pride “I’m in a Hurry” the American band Alabama 1992-

From Wikipedia: The song is an up-tempo, in which the narrator discusses the rather fast pace of the current society. He states that he is always in a hurry, but has no explanation as to why he is rushing.


(Kris and I DO rush a bit here in Panama, I think it’s a work ethic thing but we’re trying to get over it!)

As Ma and I walked toward the customs area in Miami hoards of people walked past us. We were not going very fast but not super slow either. It seemed like all the people REALLY needed to get somewhere IMMEDIATELY. Maybe they had connections to make or just wanted to get home, I don’t know. All I know is here in Panama I’m not sure that anyone not involved in a sport moves that quickly! Everything here seems to be done at a more leisurely pace. Ma and I looked at each other, she said “I’m experiencing culture shock!” I had to agree.Welcome to the jungle.

Thankfully, Portland, Maine is more similar to David, Panama. The pace there us more relaxed overall but the wait staff in the restaurants do hustle, the service was great at Gilbert’s Chowder House (Ma had fish chowder and I had fish and chips, FABULOUS!) And 75 State Street has a nice feel, no one rushing (duh, the folks there aren’t spring chickens!) and the staff is calm and cheery.

Now about the food prices….Well, I drove to get some food and had two distinct experiences. The first was at a discount grocery store where you put your purchases in boxes that littered the floor. The temperature outside was near freezing, I stood behind a woman bundled in a floor length black coat and stocking cap. She didn’t appear to be American, maybe a Somali  since many came to Maine to escape the violence of Somalia.  She produced a card for her purchase, a single jar of peanut butter.  She may not have had enough money to afford anything more, it remains a mystery to me. The prices were higher than in Panama but much better than in the next store I went to.M2840001Above is yesterdays haul from the local legumbreria. Weight-49lbs, cost $21.35 which breaks down to about 44 cents a pound. Yum, yum, yummy!

The second food price experience was at the Whole Foods store, If you are not familiar, WF is a high-end organic food chain. The food looks very nice and there is a good variety but the prices were nothing like here in Panama. I can get rib eye steak (granted not as tasty) for $4 lb, I saw rib eye for $29 lb. An apple sized chayote squash was $1.15 (large ones are 4/$1 in Panama). Watermelon was .99 lb vs .20 here. It was obvious that buying fresh fruit/veggies would be out of the range of many people’s budget. Our daughter in Santa Rosa calls Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck”!

Bottom line: Eating good, fresh food is MUCH cheaper in Panama.

These are just a few of the examples of the many differences I noticed. Maine does look like a nice place to live if one can afford it, it’s beautiful, safe, and the people are nice. It should work well for Ma and Panama should work for us.




6 thoughts on “* Visiting to the U.S.- a Wee bit of Culture/Sticker Shock*

  1. Maybe now we can work on mixing more leisure time with our activities. And as for produce, I really feel that it’s better and healthier than anything from Whole Foods. No wonder we see the produce guys so often!

    • Our food is picked at the height of ripeness, it doesn’t need to be picked green to withstand the time to travel thousands of miles. That travel time is reflected in the cost and taste for sure. This food here tastes so darn good!

  2. I have to agree with the prices in Norte America. As long as we shop in season here it is very inexpensive. It’s when we start buying apples at .45 each that our budget is blown. Luckily we’re quite happy with the occasional treat and all the fresh stuff that’s in season. I’ll usually spend $8.00 to $25.00 a week on fresh fruit and veg here from the vegetable truck that comes from Chiriqui. 🙂

  3. There are 2 reasons I live in Panama and not Maine. 1) cost of living there 2) snow. Now if I could just convince the rest of my Yankee family to move down here I would be happy. Yep, I stand a snowball’s chance in Florida of that happening. 🙂

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