On the streets (las calles), in the shops (las tiendas), on the beaches (las playas), in the clubs (discotecas) and at the grocery store (el supermercado), knowing at least some steet talk will pay big dividends.
Instead of being seen as some soul-less gringo tourist, the locals will hold you in higher regard. As a result you may make new friends, and as a bonus, perhaps get a better hotel room or lower prices while shopping in the market.
Unlike most foreign language books, with their sterile lists of words (yawn), this one includes cultural references (food, dance, sex) that make the words come alive, more relevant to your life and experience, and therefore, more easily remembered.
Panamanians will be the first to proclaim the fact that they speak Castellano (Castilian), the purest form of the Spanish language. Or do they?
Over the past 500-odd years the Panamanian dialect has absorbed a significant part of its vocabulary from other languages. For example, American English from the Panama Canal Zone. Panamanian Spanish has also borrowed words from the languages of its many immigrants to the Isthmus, most notably: Africans, French, Italians, Greeks, Chinese (Hakka and Cantonese) and both Hindi and Gujarati East Indians.
Important to note: Contemporary Panamanian Spanish coexists with 19 other languages including indigenous Bugle, Ngabere, Embera, Wounaan, Kuna, Naso Tjerdi, Bribri and English Creole.
1. Drop the letter-S on word endings. Vamos becomes Vamo.
2. Substitute the word ending ado with ao. Cuidado becomes Cuidao.
In the U.S. Army, the author attended the Department of Defense Language Institute (Spanish) at Fort Gulick, Panama, continuing Spanish at the University of Iowa. He lived in Sabanitas, Republica de Panama, transited the Panama Canal twice on a sailboat and once on a powerboat, treked the Camino de Real, once from Balboa to Colon, and also from Fort Gulick to Balboa.