Living in the South, I haven’t opened my own door in over a decade. If my car breaks down on the side of the road, someone will soon stop to help. If I show up to an acquaintance’s home unannounced, I know I’ll be invited to stay for dinner. In my opinion chivalry has nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with being a decent human being.
I'm happy to say chivalry in Panama is alive and well. In fact, Panama takes the Texas version of chivalry and kicks it up a notch.
Several days ago, David and I toured the GrandTower at Pacific Village in Panama City, which is a new waterfront condo building that should be ready in March of 2013. A young guy literally appeared off the street and asked for a tour. Panamanian hospitality took over, and our guide—the president of the division—invited this young man from New York to join us. It didn’t matter that our guide was a high-level executive. It didn’t matter that the young man didn’t have an appointment. It didn’t matter that the young man was dressed poorly. It didn’t matter that the young man wasn’t even a serious buyer. The young man wanted to see the building, so an invitation to join our tour was extended.
Because the building isn’t finished, we were given hard hats, but no one batted an eye at my 4-inch, open-toe-sandals. (No such thing as OSHA here.) When the service elevator stopped at the desired floor, this young New Yorker pushed past me and got off first. I was shocked. I can’t remember the last time a man had not held the door of the elevator for me and allowed me to get off first. But the fact that we were walking through puddles and over construction debris made it even more flabbergasting.
Being used to chivalry, I was more and more offended with each passing non-chivalrous action from our new guest. In fact, David told me “waves of hate” were rolling off of me. Hate is probably too strong of a term, but he's definitely not going to make my Christmas card list. I have been to New York plenty of times, and although chivalry may not be as prevalent as in the South, it still exists.
The beautiful thing is that the locals I was with noticed the bad behavior, and went above and beyond to overcompensate for his rudeness. In the end, Latin chivalry overcame Western rudeness.
If you’re a woman who loves chivalry, get down to Panama as soon as possible. Will you run into Westerners who don’t have a clue? Sure. But that will pale in comparison to the beautifully chivalrous way you’ll be treated by the locals.