For those of you who have any familiarity with AA, you know that AA is famous for its pithy adages and one-liners.
AA groups are home to many sacreligious, or at least “less than pious types”, and would-be stand up comics, even if they have accepted a higher power into their lives.
Expressions abound, such as the rather benign:
- “One day at a time”,
- “Easy does it”,
- To the wittily self-deprecating: “I was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex”, “…
To some that are overtly vulgar, (and hilarious): ….
- “When I finally got it (the program), I heard a loud pop, and saw a bright flash of light…That was my head coming out of my a–”…
Adages for Non-Problem Drinkers Who Move To Tropics
Well, there should be an apt expression of what life is like for semi-problem drinkers, or even moderate drinkers, from mainstream north american society, when they suddenly find themselves retired, living in a relaxed, tropical culture, with no schedule, no work, enough money to do pretty much whatever they want, and lots of time to drink.
Surely some AA sage has said something like:
“If you don’t have a drinking problem yet, just wait until you retire to Panama.”
Lots of Time To Drink
Many find, whether they retire in the US, Canada, or Panama, the transition from working life, which was hopefully meaningful, and satisfying, as well as being very busy, to a life of ease and comfort, with no fixed schedule, and very possibly a little boredom, can be a tough one.
Added to this abrupt structural change to the status quo, a move to Panama means that one will be living in a society with a much higher tolerance of excessive drinking, for public drunkenness. And for what we would consider socially unacceptable behavior while under the influence of alcohol. No one would look twice if you whistle at a cute girl passing on a bicycle.
Heavy Drinking Is Acceptable In Panama (for men)
In short, primarily for men, it is not really frowned upon to drink pretty hard every day.
While any day of the week is an acceptable day to drink, Sundays are really a day that is dedicated to drinking. Panamain men drink hard either at a family picnic, a softball game, a fishing trip, or just hanging out on the patio with friends.
In short, drinking, and drinking to excess is accepted in Panama.
Unfortunately, you will run into more than the occasional expat who appears to have chosen drinking as his “second career”. Ex-pat drinkers have favorite beer cozies in Panama the way dog mushers have favorite mittens in Alaska.
Drinking apparatus can be like “tools of the trade” here.
AA In Panama
In spite of this widespread acceptance of heavy drinking, or perhaps because of it, there is a well developed, and growing AA community in Panama.
According to AA in Panama website, there are:
- 71 AA meetings in Panama in Spanish.
- 20 meetings in English.
Of the English speaking meetings,
- 10 are in Panama City
- 4 in Panama province
- 4 in Chiriqui,
- 1 in Cocle,
- 1 in Bocas del Toro
If you are familiar with AA from your personal experience in a major north american city, obviously, you will find that the choice of meeting groups and times is somewhat limited. However, due to the large number of expat retirees in Panama, very likely, the number of meetings will grow quickly.
More meetings than on AA Panama website
In fact this website, mentions several in Boquete as well as one in Volcan.
AA in Puerto Armuelles
We know of a few AA members from north america who live in Puerto Armuelles.
So far, there is not an English speaking meeting in Puerto.
One of the AA members drives to Boquete to a meeting there, saying that they prefer it to the meeting in David.
There is a Spanish-speaking meeting in Puerto Armuelles. It is next to the Boy Scout office downtown. So far, we have no other information about it.
Alcoholics Anonymous is alive and well in Panama.
If you are looking for a meeting, you will certainly be able to meet other grateful alcoholics, and to share the practical, and spiritual program with them.
If you know about the meetings in Chiriqui, please comment below.
That info would be of interest to those in Puerto Armuelles.