I have encountered negative comments online about being married to a Panamanian.  Has anyone experienced problems with having a spouse who is not the same nationality as you are?  The comments are generally from women (at least that is the profile they have online) so I am interested to know if we should avoid social situations that could be awkward. We generally visit to see extended family all over Panama but part of our time is spent in Boquete because that is Nena's hometown.

How very curious that wives are not welcome in their own country by expats by virtue of being married to a foreigner (of the same country as the expats).


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I am Latina and can give you an honest opinion of how some of the Panamanians see this situation, again, this is not my opinion and is only based on what I have heard and experienced. Remember, I was married to and have a daughter with a Panamanian.

For some, marrying a Gringo is like hitting the lotto. It is perceived as the ultimate goal for some  females, to score a Gringo who will take care of them, not cheat, not beat them up, not waste all the money in gambling or drinks, etc., besides will give them a better lifestyle and a VISA for the USA..... goooool (soccer terms), so obviously those Panamanian females that do not have a Gringo feel envy therefore become haters to those who are indeed married to expats.

Some are perceived as gold diggers but again is some envy behind those feelings, some are truly gold diggers who find older men just to take care of them, often abuse that or have their side Panamanian lover, but it is not the norm.

With men is the same. Panamanian men see us as someone who is with them because of love and not necessarily because we need to be taken care of financially and for sure they know that our culture does not allow us to tolerate cheating, beatings, etc., we are not submissive and therefore they know that to be with a foreigner is more demanding on them as far as expectations of a reciprocal relationship and not a machista one. Not many Panamanians marry foreigners because of this, we are looked at as too independent and open minded.

Ah I forgot there is also the stigma or how many partners have you had in your life. To sum it up, a Panamanian that has had multiple lovers, a wife and a mistress, kids with different women, multiple relationships is viewed as the ultimate macho and praised, on the opposite, women who admit to having had more than two partners or have kids by different men are viewed as "easy" and are not marriage material in a Panamanian's eyes. This was basis for many arguments I had in the past, women lie to these men and they rather live in a lie thinking their women are close to being St. Theresa than knowing that their women have a past. Now, if this past is known in a town such as Boquete where everyone knows everyone's business, and this women have different kids by different fathers of have had multiple relationships, the men in town will not take them serious and thereby they look for an expat who will not ask nor judge their past.

I hope this helps

Hello Olga,

Thank you! It is a well written truth,

You have explained what an expat could not without backlash. It is such a shame that

we are all Gods children and are to be equal, Yes! there are many golddiggers but some

are good souls just trying to have a better life and for their future babies. Age is just a number

and if an older person finds joy and feels love for and from another, they should be together.

If one does not like your life choices, it is their issue, Life is too short to live the way people want you to, thats it! God Bless you !

I think that Jim was talking about expat women, Olga.

And I can see his point - have seen it in quite a few other countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Estonia...):

More often than not, expats find and marry (or partner with) local women half their age. This can prompt other expats  (who generally are married to or live with partners about their own age give or take a couple of years) to conclude that it is a marriage for "convenience" - great sex with "something fresh"  for the guy and financial security for the women and her offspring.  and sometimes even for her extended family.

I've seen several of my work mates in Indonesia ditch their first (or second!) wife and elope with a much (several decades) younger Indonesian girl. The biggest difference was a Finnish fellow who was 62 and his new (third) bride was 28. But the relationship seemed to work because I was with them in Germany on another job until 7 years after their marriage, socialized with them often and they even had a child (at her insistence) back in Canada when he was almost 70. And the guy looked worn out and 100 years old when he was in his 60s! :-)

I think you are misreading Jim's post, Olga. He is referring to gringos making comments derogatory to and about gringo men who have Panamanian wives.

Thank you all for replies.

I will try to clarify a bit. Nena and I have been married 40+ years. She is from Boquete, her family has lived there since almost before it became Boquete. She was a sales lady in a woman's clothing store in Panama City when I met her at a dance (she was with several cousins and friends). All that I know about Panama is through her and 40 years of visiting Panama, mainly Chiriquí.

Now when I post on line I am seeing comments saying people are tired of hearing comments from someone married to a Panamanian. It seems to be resentment from folks who have not assimilated into the pueblo and are having a hard time learning the language and therefore, the culture.

If Nena is a gold digger, she has the worst luck or the worst judgement of anyone I know.

Olga, the descriptions you offered are spot on and they are exactly why Nena was not looking for a partner when I met her. I proposed THREE times before she allowed me to ask her father for her hand in marriage. He was a tougher sell than she was!


I guess we'd have to have a specific example of someone who had said they are tired of hearing comments from someone married to a Panamanian. Strange, because I rarely read comments in which I could extrapolate that the commentator is married to a Panamanian. And even if I had, it would be a stretch to then know that any reply comes from someone who had not assimilated, learned the language or culture.
I was married to a Bolivian for 18 years, and the only "strange" COMMENT I ever heard was from my step-grandmother who said, in a very exasperated voice "Why do you have to marry a FOREIGNER, and a CATHOLIC on top of that?".
My father and sibling just winked at me and smiled. She was a very simple woman...

Jim, what makes you say that the persons responding in a manner that you find offensive seem to do so from "resentment from folks who have not assimilated into the pueblo and are having a hard time learning the language and therefore, the culture"? In my view, this is an unsupported assumption. My own opinion--and it's just that as I cannot know the motives of the responders--is that they view you as looking down on expats and discrediting their views at every opportunity on the basis of you being married to a Panamanian. You certainly may know more about Boquete in some ways by virtue of Nena, but since you don't live here and therefore don't share in our experiences on a daily basis, it is unfair for you to attempt to criticize the comments of expats at every opportunity.

Love and understanding what counts. MOST important speak the language of your partner. Better speak, read and write fluent Spanish and English.

Mostly it is from what the comment said. The poster was tired of people married to Panamanians and having a better command of Spanish than other expats. The comment was on another Boquete forum but the same sort of comment showed up here on ning a week later. Both comments were deleted and I did not respond to either at that time.

One tip about the forums, make a screen snap of anything you find of value because the guilty will deny every saying anything.

I do not agree with your assessment of me criticizing expats at every opportunity.  Lots of expats don't post on any blogs and they are happily enjoying their time in Panama. Some aren't so happy and want to blame the whole problem on Panama. I do take exceptions to those views.  Panama is what it is, changing it is up to the Panamanians. Some folks found the changes too slow and moved on to more convenient locations.


I didn't see anything on the Ning forum as you describe.  But, I did see the interchange on the other forum that referred to you being married to a Panamanian woman.  It hasn't been deleted, and in my opinion you have twisted it into something other than what it was.

In a discussion of road safety issues in Panama, you made a comment implying that non-Panamanians were trying to change the culture if they didn't accept unsafe drivers and unsafe vehicles.  You even acknowledged that your comment wouldn't be popular. The reply to you was snarky, but there wasn't any denigration concerning your spouse.  The denigration was that you think that you have a better understanding of the culture than other people do because you are married to a Panamanian. That may or may not be true.

I'm attaching the conversations because I think you need your memory refreshed.


Thank you for finding that example, Bill. That was another of the comments that I did see. 

I do believe that I have a bit more insight to Chiriquí than many expats who have lived there for a few years. I have nearly 50 years of history with the place and I can tell you that very little of the culture of the farmers has changed. What has changed is that 10 to 15% of the population are not farmers nor do they understand the area in which they are living.

Am I smarter than the average bear? No. Do I live in Chiriquí? No. Do I know several dozen people personally who live there? Yes, and they are all Panamanian and several are family.

I have no problem with where anyone lives, but I don't want someone moving into my neighborhood telling me we have been doing things wrong and we need to change. Remember that Boquete was largely built by expats who have been there forever and the culture is one they have accepted for decades.



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