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|Tipping: Tipping is not really expected here but you should
leave a few coins just to acknowledge the service.
Shopping: Shop opening varies but they are usually open from 8:30 am until 6 pm with a closed period for lunch lasting about one an a half hours. Among the handicrafts to buy are clothing, ceramics and wood carvings. There is a woman's dress called the "pollera" which is a lacy and frilly creation which is as colorful as it is expensive. The cost usually hovers around a thousand dollars. There are lots of imported goods here. If you venture into the Colon Free Zone be mindful that the merchants are looking for buyers in mass not individual items. Panama is not a place for bargaining. What you see for a price is almost always what the price will be.
Food and Drink: The most popular dish here is called the "sancocho" which is a spicy concoction of vegetables and chicken in the form of a stew. There are a number of good restaurants which serve an array of specialties. You will not go hungry here. Seafood is plentiful, but on the Caribbean side you can have a lot of Caribbean King Crab, lobster and shrimp. In Panama there is not a real concern about the water. Soft drinks are plentiful. Rum and beer are abundant in Panama but wine is not except for expensive imports.
Social: In general people are very hospitable. The makeup of the population varies as the ethnic diversities of Boston, New York City or Chicago. Included in the population are large sections of Chinese, Croatians, Germans, Swiss and mestizos and a number of Middle Eastern peoples. Do not surprised if you hear languages other than Spanish or English (which is widely understood). There is an indigenous people called the "Kunz" which are quite photogenic. Do ask beforehand when taking their picture. They will usually allow it - but give them something for the favor. The picture that you will get will be one of your favorite.
Business: Business standards are somewhat the same as the US. Speaking Spanish would be a good idea. Be punctual and not pushy in you dealings. They are most concerned with someone who will listen carefully and they will respect you all the more.
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