So, last week or maybe last month my mother asked me, “Do people in Panama think you are strange because you bring your dog to the bar?” I had to think about it for a minute and decided, it was not normal behavior. I have seen a dog or two with their human have a drink, but it is by far not an every day occurrence, especially because most dogs in Panama are dogs, not highly regarded members of their family.
The question did give me pause, and then I thought about all the strange things I have seen in Panamanian bars. For example, there was the day a man parked his horse in the bar. You had to give him credit, it was hot out and there was not a lot of shade, so why not bring him in? The horse was a little big and did make it hard for customers to squeeze past, but at least the gentleman didn’t park his car in the bar.
Then there was the day someone stopped for a cold beer with his rooster. Now, the rooster wasn’t there for a beer, but he had to go somewhere, so why not on the corner of the bar? I have to admit, it was the first time I drank with a rooster. Fortunately, he was a quiet rooster and seemed to be house broken. I haven’t seen him come back, but maybe it was a special occasion.
It is not always animals that make for interesting sights in drinking establishments. For example, I am pretty sure if you walked into a bar in the States and handed the barkeep a machete there would be some confusion and possibly some police intervention. Here in Panama, that is just common sense. Everyone, including this gringa has a machete and no one, including me, wants a drunk bar brawl with a machete involved. That could get messy pretty quickly.
Surely, I would be remiss not to mentions bicycles. Even the bars that I would consider not appropriate for my dog to enter are open to bikes. Everyone has one, no one wants to lose one and so yes, you are likely to see many customers stroll in with a bike. They generally stand them up in the corner, or let it fall over, depending on their owners sobriety. Some places have designated bike corners while other places are not as organized. You won’t see a placard or a sign, but go with the locals and leave your bike with theirs.
So,in general, taking Gringer to the bar might not be average Panama style, but it is by no means the strangest thing you are likely to see while enjoying a cold Balboa.