The Kindness of Strangers

It surprises me how kind and giving the people are here. It happens every day. Strangers on the street help me find things, sometimes taking a fair amount of time to personally walk me to the location and speak to someone else on my behalf. Our neighbor took a morning to help us fix our car and refused anything in return. When I told my teacher about it, she asked – “don’t people do this in your country?” No, they do not. Of course people are helpful when asked, and someone who has been a friend and neighbor for years will stop his work and help you with your car but in general, it’s different. People here help you like they have been friends and neighbors for years, even when they have known you for only moments.

We made friends with a man in the tennis group. He took us to the best store to buy a bicycle, and yesterday he enlisted another friend of his to come with us to Pedregal to find the best fish seller. Then he took us to his house to meet his family.

Our friend at the fruit and vegetable market picks out the best pineapples for us, and tosses in a few free bananas every time we visit.

A stranger at the bus terminal walked me to the bus I needed and handed me off to the bus assistant to be sure I got where I needed to go.

I can site example after example, but last night was one of the most touching. It was Friday night, the night before Mother’s Day, a very big and important day in Panama. The neighbors had friends over and they were celebrating with fireworks in the street. We don’t know these people, but we have said hello a few times as we pass by their house. Last night after the fireworks they come over with a plate of sweets for us, and to wish us happy mother’s day.

So, today I am thinking about the people here. Anytime you pass someone, there is always a smile and greeting. Anytime I talk to someone, there is always patience for my limited Spanish and help offered if needed, help given with a smile and no apparent thought to the time it may take. There is a different sense of community here, a much more open attitude and I like it a lot. I know we are very much in the honeymoon phase of this journey so I wonder how I will feel in a year. From here though, I can’t imagine feeling much differently about smiling, friendly people.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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15 Responses to The Kindness of Strangers

  1. A Dog With Fleas says:

    It is wonderful how warm, welcoming and helpful the people of Panama are. How reassuring it must be as you are in the early months of your journey there.

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  2. It is truly educating how people in countries we label third world, can teach us how to be rich in what matters most, the acts of compassion, helpfulness, friendship and laughter.

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    • kristc99 says:

      This is so true! Even in the US, in my experience, it is the people with the least material wealth who are often the richest in what really matters. Thanks for the visit and the comment 🙂

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  3. you will most likely love them even more a year from now! i loved this post! thank you! z

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    • kristc99 says:

      Everyone, or I should say many other gringos warn me about the frustrations and problems of living here (maybe another post one day). I think too many of them forget the frustrations back in the US and don’t appreciate what we do have here. I’m so happy to hear your perspective because I think I will feel the same too, and still be very happy to be here.

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  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons | The Panama Adventure

  5. oldsalt1942 says:

    It’s great to see a new blog from people who have decided to live among the “Happiest People In The World.” It’s also nice to see you’ve peeped MY blog, too. I do have one thing I need to impart, though. I see in your tags that you use the word “expatriot.” I don’t know about you, but I’m an EXPATRIATE. It comes from the Latin word “Patria” or homeland, and an “expatriate” is someone who has left their homeland to live elsewhere. A “Patriot” is a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion. An “EXpatriot” would, then, be someone who was once a patriot but no longer loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion. While we have chosen to live here in Panama I’m sure that you, like myself, still loves, supports, and defends the United States and its interests with devotion. I am a Yankee born and bred and by Yankee I not only refer to the U.S. but the New England region. Both sides of my family were settled there by the mid 1630s. And while I love the U.S.A. I intend to live out my last days right here in La Republica de Panama.

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    • kristc99 says:

      Ahh I see. Thank you so much for straightening me out. I guess it’s one of those things that isn’t fixed by spell check and when you look at the difference in meaning, it really needs to be corrected! How is everything in your neighborhood? we’re all doing fine here. We decided to get bicycles instead of motorcycles, much safer for me, and much needed exercise too. I barely peeped your blog so I will be back to spend some more time there. Feliz Navidad 🙂

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      • oldsalt1942 says:

        The “expatriate” / “expatriot” mix up is VERY common.As a former editor there are a few things that I just can’t let ride and that’s one of them.Two other things that set my back teeth on edge are when people use the word “jealous” when they actually mean “envy,” and when people “surround”: things on three sides. You can ‘border’ something on three sides but ALL SIDES have to be enclosed to surround something.
        Otherwise thing are just fine here in Boqueron.

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  6. kristc99 says:

    If you catch me making any other language errors, let me know! I also admire good writing and aspire to that. I’m glad to hear all is well 🙂

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  7. Livonne says:

    It sounds like a place we should all visit and take lessons from.. 🙂

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