Sometimes, ol’Jack has a problem with having to listen to the complaints of his fellow expats, who don’t seem to remember how congested traffic actually is back wherever home used to be. Yes, most appointments here on the isthmus are scheduled for mañana, but what’s the hurry. Most of us moved away from more northern climes so we could experience eternal summer, so of course it gets hot in tropical Panama. It’s different down here where most people speak Spanish and that can be stimulating if sometimes frustrating and to be quite frank, no place is perfect.
That doesn’t mean there are no valid complaints however. There is at least one thing that can drive expats back to the country from whence they came—the proverbial straw that breaks the retired camel’s back—a single phenomena that can turn a charming old couple into a raging duo wielding a golf club and a frying pan. Especially lately, it has become the single most repeated complaint uttered to ol’Jack over a Seco and lime or thru cigar smoke escaping through gritted teeth. The number one complaint is extremely loud music.
For some reason, many Panamanian partiers don’t think they’re having a good time unless the music is turned up to Spinal Tap shattering 12 or 13 on the volume knob. Every weekend, hombres drive their pickup trucks onto the beach at Gorgona or Playa Blanca with speakers the size of sanijohns loaded up in back. DJs up on rooftop terraces of trendy hotels act as if they’re broadcasting to the moon. Squatters in Casco Viejo can’t afford to pay rent but manage to own brutal hi-fi systems that make living next door an aural nightmare. Sleep is not an option when the house across the mountain valley has the boom box set at intercontinental. Nobody sleeps in Bocas Town on a Saturday night.
The other test of letting the good times roll is how late the music lasts. Apparently turning off the tunes before 3 a.m. signifies that the party is a flop, so sunrise is deemed about right. Not only is the music so loud it drowns out the boom of the fireworks it is accompanying, but the wall of sound never ends. This all leaves some bleary-eyed neighbors, who enjoy a quiet sunset and the sound of breezes in the trees, banging their knuckles raw on doors behind which movers and shakers can’t hear the knocking.