Coffee people have NO time from September - February, between the coffee harvest, heavy rain and festivals and parades nothing else will get done. Factor in that Project Management is as yet an unheard of art up here in the mountains and this means big trouble for any piece of work bigger than a small task.
Insight: Instead of spending the summer months January - July on the beach; This is the time to get things done. Project management will have to be done by yours truly (concepts of sequence, capacity limitations and deadlines are not relished by locals). It will start with a project plan that I will manage like a terrier.
Same thing on a micro daily basis. Most of the year it rains. It starts raining around lunch time. Rain is a show stopper. Workers go home or hide in the greenhouse, streets get all muddy making shopping an unattractive proposition. Sometimes, it rains so hard it is dangerous to go out at all.
Insight: No drinking or partying that will result in lying in bed in the morning with a headache. Get up when it gets light, get moving, do everything and make sure everyone else does everything before lunch.
In Panama there is no such thing as a fixed price on anything. Everything is up for negotiation. Not a problem per se if you do the negotiating yourself. Although you start from a huge disadvantage as a Gringa female - you can always say no. I am OK with that.
However, it becomes an unmanageable problem to let anyone else in on the negotiating . You think you are paying them for doing their piece of work and they are also making money on all the raw materials and probably other people's work the sides. Sometimes big $$$ involved sometimes very very small.
Insight: Unfortunately micro-management is the name of the game here and the need to acquire an appetite for auditing $s from your purse to final destination. Beware of gasoline and horse feed levels dropping too quickly. So, although I was never one to draw lines on the whisky bottle or count the candies in the candy jar...........that may need to change.
Deals and life in general in the jungle is about 'life eating life' - think what you see going on around a bird table. No gentlemanly approach can be assumed. There is a culture in this young country of chasing the short term win vs aspiring to a longer term business relationship or partnership. Nothing to be ashamed of in winning that way here in Panama. Those who are too generous, too trusting well they are seen as a little stupid.
Insight: Remember you have to live with yourself and for those of us that are not Catholic through and through, we can not get absolved in confession every Sunday.
Happy New Year.